“Zero-Impact” – Combustion Engine

6. May 2020 | Engineering Service

A further tightening of emission legislation with Euro7 is expected. FEV’s hypothesis for the key challenges of the next European emission legislation consist of the following major topics:

  • A general reduction of the gaseous emission limits CO: 500 mg/km . HC: 50 mg/km . NOX: 35 mg/km
  • Non-allowance of auxiliary emission strategies that can lead to high emissions
  • Particle number emissions measured down to 10 nm instead of 23 nm
  • Incorporation of further emission components limits for the lab tests
  • Extension of the RDE legislation framework to incorporate further emission components and short driving trips

FEV has investigated how ultimately even a zero-impact combustion engine could be achieved, causing less emissions than those contained in the ambient air. In particular the following targets have been set:

  • Emissions in WLTC
  • NOX: 40 µg/m³ (corresponds to approx. 0.03 mg/km)
  • PM (2.5): 25 µg/m³ (corresponds to approx. 0.02 mg/km)

Compared to today’s Euro 6d legislation, this means a reduction of NOX emissions by 99.9 percent and PM emissions by 99.2 percent.

Development methodologies

FEV has developed extensive patented and patent-pending development methods in the field of simulation, as well as testing and aging of emission-relevant components, which make it possible to demonstrate high robustness and forecast accuracy at an early stage of development.

RDE emission simulation and identification of worst case cycles

Emission simulation at FEV is an essential pillar in the frontloading of development. Presented
for the first time in 2016 at the Vienna Engine Symposium, and further refined since then, this modular FEV simulation toolchain based on the GT-Suite software environment is now an essential part of FEV development activities. Engine raw emissions are modeled based on stationary and transient measurement data from engine and roller test benches. The simulation models of the exhaust aftertreatment follow a map-based approach. Still, discretization of the catalyst monoliths allows a good description of the warm-up behavior to take into account individual, temperature-dependent conversion rates. Figure 1 depicts the all relevant variables which are included in the calculation of the conversion.

Knowledge of which vehicle- and powertrain-specific cycles can lead to the highest emissions is essential for reliable compliance with all emission limits under RDE conditions. FEV has realized an abstraction of such real driving conditions. The result is a derivation of a concise number of parameters. This parameterization allows machine learning techniques to be applied to identify the worst case RDE cycles based on an analysis of a few hundreds of simulated cycles. This methodology has meanwhile been successfully applied in many development projects.

Catalyst and gasoline particle filter characterization

In the course of the development of FEV’S RDE emission simulation methodology, it was identified that initially catalysts could hardly be modeled with sufficient precision. The reason for this lies in the mostly limited measurement data available from catalyst manufacturers and OEMs. However, for a precise prediction of the emissions under RDE boundary conditions, knowledge of the conversion rate at highest space velocities and in a wide temperature range is of high importance. FEV there-fore developed its own equipment that can be used to characterize catalysts under exactly these conditions. The system shown in Figure 2 is designed and proven for exhaust gas mass flows up to those produced by turbocharged V12 engines to measure the conversion efficiency at high mass flows and cold temperatures, such as they occur in a full load acceleration shortly after an engine start.

Catalyst and gasoline particle filter aging

FEV has established a method for rapid aging of catalysts and GPFs, as well. For GPF aging, the burner test bench is modified allowing oil to be burned in order to generate ash. Different methods have been investigated and finally oil injection was chosen. FEV generated a cycle and oil dosing strategy that is able to reproduce similar aging characteristics as they are found during vehicle durability testing.

Exhaust aftertreatment concept to achieve zero-impact emissions

Five building blocks form the exhaust aftertreatment concept for achieving zero-impact emissions.

  • Optimization of NOX raw emissions during cat heating
  • Exhaust aftertreatment with readiness immediately after engine start
  • HC emission adsorption
  • Increase of total catalyst volume
  • GPF with improved filtration efficiency

The individual building blocks are discussed below.

NOX optimized catalyst heating

NOX aw emissions can be optimized by an adaptation of cat heating calibration. For very retarded ignition timings, a high amount of fuel is required to generate an IMEP that matches the FMEP. This results in dethrottling and a lower rate of internal EGR. The cylinder peak temperature increases and remains on a high level over a longer period of time. As a result, the NOX emissions increase. To achieve a drastic reduction in NOX emissions, an optimized cat heating calibration would therefore use only a mild spark timing retardation. As a consequence, HC raw emissions would increase, and additional measures need to be implemented to address this.

Electrically heated catalysts

Two electrically heated catalysts are integrated upstream of the main catalyst (4 kW per disc, 8 kW in total). The metallic substrate heats up rapidly achieving light-off after a few seconds. However, an engine start followed by cold exhaust gas flowing across the electrically heated catalysts would drop their temperature below the level needed for sufficient conversion efficiency. Therefore, a secondary air pump is used to flow air across the electrically heated catalysts prior to the engine start in order to heat up the main catalyst as well. Figure 4 illustrates the heat up process of the final system configuration. The convective heat transfer can clearly be seen in the lower half of the diagram. As soon as the engine is started the higher exhaust mass flow leads to even better convective heat transfer but at the same time also a reduction in the temperatures.

Emissions can be further optimized by ensuring that the catalyst system maintains a high temperature level. In a hybrid engine, this can be supported by the operation strategy and re-activation of the electrically heated catalysts.

Emission adsorption before catalyst light-off

One way to achieve emission adsorption is by dedicated coatings. In order to achieve a high adsorption efficiency, low temperatures are necessary. This matches with the lower incoming exhaust gas temperatures due to advanced ignition timings during cat heating. A metal substrate is considered since this allows high thermal inertia and thus low temperature increase in the first seconds of engine operation and an even distribution of the secondary air mass flow to the inlet face of the electrically heated catalyst. With a temperature limit of 850 °C the adsorption catalyst dictates the position of the exhaust aftertreatment system to be not closed coupled which in turn has benefit regarding thermal aging. Figure 5 shows a comparison of cat heating with and without HC adsorption, in this case downstream of the catalyst.

For exhaust aftertreatment systems targeting at catalyst pre-heating with a burner instead of electrically heated catalysts, the adsorption of the burner emissions via a small carbon canister positioned downstream of the catalyst might be a good solu-tion as well.

Increased catalyst volume

The catalyst volume is increase by 30 percent compared to the Euro 6d-TEMP base-line which is already using a bigger catalyst volume compared to former Euro 6b/c levels. This includes the volume of electrically heated catalysts. As a consequence, the space velocity at rated power is reduced to values at which high conversion efficiency can be maintained even in aged conditions.

GPF with improved filtration efficiency

Best-in-class Euro 6c and Euro 6d-TEMP engines without GPF already achieve PM emissions in WLTC of only 0.12 – 0.28 mg/km. Compared to the zero-impact target of 25 µg/m³ (approx. 0.02 mg/km), there is the need for a further PM emission reduction by 83 – 93 percent. This can well be achieved with a second generation GPF.

Final results and outlook

The outlined exhaust aftertreatment system is finally assessed in combination with a 2.0 l 4-cyl. turbocharged GDI engine in a plug-in hybrid configuration. Figure 6 shows the final exhaust aftertreatment system.

Extensive DoE investigations have been performed in order to achieve the zero-impact emission level while minimizing the fuel consumption penalty that arises from the electric pre-heating of the catalysts. Figure 7 depicts the correlation between the electrical pre-heating energy and all resulting gaseous emissions. Valid points fulfill the zero-impact target of NOX emissions lower than 40 µg/m³ as well as a balanced SOC of the battery at the end of the cycle. The optimum for meeting the zero-impact target at best possible fuel consumption is found slightly below 0.4 kWh. HC and CO emissions remain well below FEV’s anticipated Euro 7 limits. But, due to the concept, those emissions are not as drastically reduced as the NOX emissions.

The final results for the optimal operation strategy are depicted in Figure 8. The remaining NOX emissions – although hardly visible – mainly result from the first seconds after engine start. The oxygen storage capacity of the catalyst is completely filled at that time and initial rich operation is required to purge the catalyst before full NOX conversion efficiency is achieved. In the remaining part of the WLTC, NOX emission slips remain minimal. The electrically heated catalysts are re-activated for short intervals during the cycle to ensure the temperatures stay on a sufficiently high level at all times. Fuel consumption increases by 4.3 percent compared to the Euro 6d-TEMP baseline.

The zero-impact emission concept presented here is extremely biased towards achieving minimal NOX emissions. For the fulfillment of “just” the Euro 7 emission limit, several conceptual adaptations are possible, e.g. reduction of the number of electrical heated catalysts from two to one. Moreover, the adsorption catalyst could be eliminated, allowing the entire catalyst system to be re-located back to a closed coupled position.