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Emission Control

Emission Control

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Published by Harpreet Randhawa

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Published by: Harpreet Randhawa on Oct 06, 2010
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Pollutants Produced by a Car Engine
In order to reduce emissions, modern car engines carefully control the amount of fuel they burn.They try to keep the air-to-fuel ratio very close to thestoichiometricpoint, which is the ideal ratio of air to fuel. Theoretically, at this ratio, all of the fuel will be burned using all of the oxygen in the air.Forgasoline
 
, the stoichiometricratio is about 14.7:1, meaning that for each pound of gasoline, 14.7pounds of air will be burned. The fuel mixture actually varies from the ideal ratio quite a bit duringdriving. Sometimes the mixture can belean(an air-to-fuel ratio higher than 14.7), and other timesthe mixture can berich(an air-to-fuel ratio lower than 14.7).The main emissions of a car engine are:Nitrogen gas(N2) -Air is 78-percent nitrogen gas, and most of this passes right through the carengine.Carbon dioxide(CO2) -This is one product of combustion. The carbon in the fuel bonds with theoxygen in the air.Water vapor(H2O) -This is another product of combustion. The hydrogen in the fuel bonds with theoxygen in the air.These emissions are mostly benign, although carbon dioxide emissions are believed to contribute toglobal warming. Because the combustion process is never perfect, some smaller amounts of moreharmful emissions are also produced in car engines. Catalytic converters are designed to reduce allthree:Carbon monoxide(CO) is a poisonous gas that is colorless and odorless.Hydrocarbonsorvolatile organic compounds(VOCs) are a major component of smog producedmostly from evaporated, unburned .fuel.Nitrogen oxides(NO and NO2, together called NOx) are a contributor to smog and acid rain, whichalso causes irritation to human mucus membranes.
 
Four of the most important emission control systems used today are the catalyticconverter, pulse air injection system, EGR or Exhaust Gas Recirculation and PositiveCrankcase Ventilation.1. CATALYTIC CONVERTER
How Catalytic Converters Reduce Pollution
In chemistry, a
catalyst
is a substance that causes oraccelerates a chemical reaction without itself beingaffected. Catalysts participate in the reactions, but areneither reactants nor products of the reaction theycatalyze. In the catalytic converter, there are twodifferent types of catalyst at work, a
reductioncatalyst
and an
oxidation catalyst
. Both types consistof a ceramic structure coated with a metal catalyst,usually platinum, rhodium and/or palladium. The ideais to create a structure that exposes the maximumsurface area of catalyst to the exhaust stream, whilealso minimizing the amount of catalyst required, as thematerials are extremely expensive. Some of thenewest converters have even started to use gold mixedwith the more traditional catalysts. Gold is cheaperthan the other materials and could increase oxidation,the chemical reaction that reduces pollutants, by up to40 percent
.
 
M
ost modern cars are equipped with
three-way catalytic converters
. This refers to the threeregulated emissions it helps to reduce.The
reduction catalyst
is the first stage of the catalytic converter. It uses platinum and rhodiumto help reduce the NOx emissions. When an NO or NO2 molecule contacts the catalyst, thecatalyst rips the nitrogenatomout of the molecule and holds on to it, freeing the oxygen in theform of O2. The nitrogen atoms bond with other nitrogen atoms that are also stuck to thecatalyst, forming N2. For example:
2NO => N2+ O2
or
2NO2=> N2+ 2O2
The
oxidation catalyst
is the second stage of thecatalytic converter. It reduces the unburnedhydrocarbons and carbon monoxide by burning(oxidizing) them over a platinum and palladiumcatalyst. This catalyst aids the reaction of the COand hydrocarbons with the remaining oxygen in theexhaust gas. For example:
2CO + O2=> 2CO2
There are two main types of structures used incatalytic converters --
honeycomb
and
ceramicbeads
.
M
ost cars today use a honeycomb structure.
ceramic honeycomb structure

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