Reducing Cold-Start Emissions by Catalytic Converter Thermal Management
Vacuum insulation and phase-change thermal storage have been used to enhance the heat retention of a prototype catalytic converter. Storing heat in the converter between trips allows exhaust gases to be converted more quickly, significantly reducing cold-start emissions. Using a small metal hydride, the thermal conductance of the vacuum insulation can be varied continuously between 0.49 and 27 W/m2K (R-12 to R-0.2 insulation) to prevent overheating of the catalyst. A prototype was installed in a Dodge Neon with a 2.0-liter engine. Following a standard preconditioning and a 23-hour cold soak, an FTP (Federal Test Procedure) emissions test was performed. Although exhaust temperatures during the preconditioning were not hot enough to melt the phase-change material, the vacuum insulation performed well, resulting in a converter temperature of 146°C after the 23-hour cold soak at 27°C.