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Southwest Research Institute licenses FOCAS® technology for automotive exhaust catalyst aging

San Antonio — March 31, 2006 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has signed a licensing agreement with AGNI Test Systems (ATS) granting ATS exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute commercial FOCAS® technology systems in the United States. 

SwRI developed FOCAS as a more effective method to accelerate automotive exhaust catalyst aging. The licensing agreement grants ATS the right to manufacture, market, use and lease FOCAS systems commercially. 

When conducting emission testing of new vehicle models, manufacturers use catalysts that have been operated or "aged" for a time period that simulates the vehicle’s useful life. FOCAS offers a method of aging the catalysts much faster and more precisely than operating them on engines.

FOCAS uses a gasoline-fueled burner with an integrated, computerized control system to age catalytic converters. The flow of exhaust gas from an engine can be simulated under a variety of load conditions, allowing full-sized automotive catalyst systems to be rapidly aged. The system incorporates can provide exhaust gas at elevated temperatures for extended periods, with or without the introduction of engine lubricant oil to simulate engine oil consumption. 

"FOCAS can save automotive manufacturers millions of dollars a year in catalyst aging," said Bob Burrahm, a program manager in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division. "Our market research suggests that about $40 million per year is spent globally in performing catalyst-aging testing. The FOCAS burner-based catalyst-aging system can produce much higher exhaust temperatures than an engine, allowing aging time to be significantly reduced."

Catalytic converters became part of the vehicle exhaust system in the mid-1970s to meet emission regulations mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the introduction of the three-way catalyst, engineers and scientists have worked to optimize the performance and durability of these devices to meet increasingly stringent emissions and durability standards. 

Vehicle manufacturers are required to demonstrate that each catalyst system will meet emissions regulations for the useful life of the vehicle on which it is used. 

"AGNI Test Systems plans to market, promote and produce the FOCAS system for the U.S. automotive industry," said ATS President David Lapp. "Our goal is to exceed automotive industry expectations by providing high-value catalyst aging services and equipment.”

ATS plans to have commercial units available for customer use by early 2007. For more information about FOCAS, visit focas.swri.org

As an independent, multidisciplinary research and development organization, SwRI offers an unbiased, third-party perspective. The Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division has achieved certification to ISO 9001, an internationally recognized quality standard, and ISO 14001, an environmental management system standard. In addition, SwRI has the expertise to perform combustion visualization, detailed airflow analysis, combustion bomb evaluations, and competitive engine and vehicle benchmarking. The division also develops specialized instruments, control systems, test apparatus and data acquisition systems to help achieve engine and vehicle performance and emissions goals.

AGNI Test Systems, located in Brighton, Mich., has plans to add facilities wherever needed to meet client needs. For more information about ATS, contact David Lapp at (248) 431-4213.

For more information contact Tracey M.S. Whelan at (210) 522-2256, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

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