Clean soot particle filters

October 5, 2011
A researcher checks whether the soot particle filter is freed from soot even at exhaust temperatures of 140 degrees Celsius. (© Fraunhofer ISE)

The soot particle filters found on diesel vehicles are designed to ensure that no harmful particles make their way through the exhaust pipe. Often, though, the exhaust from newer-model engines is not hot enough to free the filters from soot particles on a regular basis. A new method removes impurities even at low exhaust temperatures.

Long gone are the days when spewed black clouds of exhaust into the air: Nowadays, there are filters in place that capture the largest of these soot particles. After a time, if too much soot accumulates in the filter, the soot is burned off and the filter is regenerated. The problem: only burn above temperatures of 500 to 600 degrees Celsius. Yet the temperature of truck exhaust is increasingly dropping as part of the effort to minimize of nitric oxides harmful to the environment.

There exist two approaches to removing soot from the filter: the first involves an oxidation that converts nitrogen monoxide in the exhaust into . If nitrogen dioxide is passed through the filter, the soot burns at lower temperatures. In some engine operating states – such as when the engine is still cold – this regeneration method does not suffice: In these cases, liquid fuel is added, that combusts with residual oxygen in the exhaust to heat the exhaust and filter. This cleansing method only works at exhaust temperatures in excess of 230 degrees Celsius, however. At lower temperatures, the fuel-exhaust mixture fails to ignite, damaging the catalytic converter. The problem: Exhaust from newer-model truck engines is only 160 to 180 degrees Celsius.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany, have come up with a method that reliably regenerates filters even at exhaust temperatures as low as 140 degrees. “We add a synthesis gas consisting of carbon monoxide and hydrogen to the exhaust,“ explains Dr. Thomas Aicher, group manager at ISE. “We introduce this gas mixture at the oxidation catalytic converter – lowering the ignition temperature to 140 degrees Celsius and freeing the filter from even at these low exhaust temperatures.“

But where does this synthesis gas come from? “We have two ways to generate this gas: One is to heat diesel fuel in the absence of air. This produces hydrogen and carbon. Then, the carbon is burned with the exhaust, creating carbon monoxide. Experts refer to this process as pyrolysis. The other way is to oxidize diesel with a very small amount of air so that the diesel combusts only partially. This is known as partial oxidation,“ explains Robert Szolak, a scientist at ISE. Researchers have already built and successfully tested prototypes for both approaches. The experts have now partnered with an industrial partner to investigate partial in greater detail.

Explore further: Efficient Particulate Filter Cuts Truck and Car Emissions

Related Stories

Efficient Particulate Filter Cuts Truck and Car Emissions

April 15, 2005

New filters from the Siemens company Emitec remove as much as 80 percent of particulates from the exhaust gases produced by trucks. This represents a significant reduction of the pollutant emissions from this source. In addition ...

Is it safe to breathe yet?

April 26, 2010

Anyone who has ridden behind a truck belching black exhaust knows the smell and discomfort caused by soot, the airborne carbon particles that result from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons such as diesel fuel. Those ...

Got NOx?

March 18, 2005

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers have developed a new cost effective and energy efficient method for reducing oxides of nitrogen, or NOx, in diesel engine emissions. Called the reformer assisted catalysis, ...

Five myths about diesel engines

June 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Diesel engines, long confined to trucks and ships, are garnering more interest for their fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, relative to gasoline engines. Argonne mechanical engineer Steve ...

Recommended for you

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

unknownorgin
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
It is very clear that the filter system for diesel trucks is not a practical system and was required on trucks just to get somthing on the exhust pipe even if it did not work. The idea to fix this failure requires another chamber and the burning of more fuel. This foolishness costs everyone more money because of higher shipping costs to pay for these crackpot inventions.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.