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SwRI develops improved catalyst screener

San Antonio -- June 29, 2004 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has developed an improved screening tool to evaluate emission catalyst formulations. Designated as the Universal Synthetic Gas Reactor® (USGR®), the second-generation system can monitor overall catalyst performance in automotive emissions systems under a wide range of operating conditions.

"The Institute has used a synthetic gas reactor for several years to simulate real-world exhaust gas streams, allowing us to evaluate the performance of catalyst core samples rapidly and cost-effectively," said Dr. Gordon Bartley, a senior research scientist in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division. " We recently designed and built the USGR to provide significantly more comprehensive and flexible testing capabilities."

The USGR evaluates the performance of catalyst technologies in a variety of applications, including three-way catalysts, diesel oxidation catalysts, lean oxides of nitrogen (NOx) catalysts/traps and sulfur traps. Additional applications include selective reduction catalysts, reforming catalysts for hydrogen production and other catalytic applications. In addition to testing exhaust gas catalysts, relative durability testing can also be addressed using aged, small-core catalysts.

"Industry has traditionally used engine- and vehicle-based testing to evaluate aftertreatment catalyst candidates. The high cost of these individual test setups, coupled with the long lead time, greatly restricts the ability to evaluate a large matrix of likely catalyst candidates cost-effectively and in a reasonable time frame," explained Bartley.

"Using the USGR, we can blend synthetic gas mixtures, control a wide range of catalyst inlet temperatures and flow rates, and test a variety of catalysts with different operating modes," said Martin Heimrich, manager of SwRI's aftertreatment research and development section. "We can provide our clients with a rapid, cost-effective and flexible service, enabling them to select only the most promising candidates from numerous catalyst formulations to evaluate by engine or vehicle testing."

The Institute-developed, patent-pending device can simulate engine exhaust conditions for nearly all liquid and gaseous fuels including gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas and liquid petroleum gas. The apparatus can also simulate exhaust emissions from future high-tech vehicle concepts that do not always have hardware available for testing, such as hybrid vehicles, lean-burn engines and homogeneous charge compression ignition engines.

The USGR uses several analyzers to provide real-time, second-by-second data for gas components such as O2, CO, CO2, H2O, total hydrocarbon, selected hydrocarbons, total NOX, NO, NO2, N2O, NH3 and SO2.

Using the USGR and other analytical tests, SwRI provides a comprehensive catalyst screening and testing service for its clients. For additional information, click on

For more information contact Deborah Deffenbaugh, Communications Department, (210) 522-2046, Fax (210) 522-3547.

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