Reducing cold-start emission from internal combustion engines by means of a catalytic converter embedded in a phase-change material

E. Korin, R. Reshef, D. Tshernichovesky, E. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Under normal operating conditions, catalytic converters appear to be the most effective means of reducing air pollution from internal combustion (IC) engines. The conversion efficiency, however, declines very steeply for temperatures below about 350°C and is practically zero during the starting and warming-up period. Improving the conversion efficiency under these conditions is important, particularly in large cities, where the number of starlings per vehicle per day tends to be high. Among the more successful solutions are preheating of the catalyst electrically, warming up of the catalyst in an external combustion chamber, installation of an auxiliary small-capacity catalytic converter, and employment of an adsorbing unit between two catalysts. Although these methods are quite effective, their disadvantage lies in the fact that they require an external energy source, an additional component (a control unit) or a three-stage catalyst. In the present work an investigation was made of a solution based on the exploitation of thermal capacitance to keep the catalyst temperature high during off-operation periods. A phase-change material (PCM) with a transition temperature of 352.7°C, which is slightly above the light-off temperature of the metallic catalyst, was specially formulated, and a system comprising a catalytic converter embedded in the PCM was designed and tested. Under normal engine operating conditions, some of the thermal energy of the exhaust gases was stored in the PCM. During the time that the vehicle was not in use, the PCM underwent partial solidification, and the latent heat thus produced was exploited to maintain the catalyst temperature within the desired temperature range for maximum conversion efficiency. IMechE 1999.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-583
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Catalytic converters
  • Cold-start emission
  • Phase-change materials
  • Thermal energy storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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