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SwRI-led particle sensor consortium to add durability research in its second year

For immediate release

San Antonio — March 28, 2013 — After a successful first year in which it demonstrated the potential of operating real-time particle sensors in engine exhaust systems, the Particle Sensor Performance and Durability (PSPD) consortium will focus its second year of research on improving the sensors' durability and reliability.

First year research focused on investigating the performance of the spark plug-sized exhaust particle sensors at different levels of engine exhaust velocity, temperature, particle concentration, electric charge and size distribution. Short-term sensor survivability also was measured during operating conditions including high ammonia concentration, high and low pressures, and exhaust temperatures up to 700 degrees Celsius. Transient testing was performed using the highway FTP transient cycle and the nonroad transient cycle.

"The consortium's goal is to develop particulate matter sensors for production engine emission systems that will provide value similar to that being provided by NOX sensors," said consortium Principal Investigator Dr. Imad Khalek, a senior program manager in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division.

First year research focused on investigating the performance of the spark plug-sized exhaust particle sensors at different levels of engine exhaust velocity, temperature, particle concentration, electric charge and size distribution. Short-term sensor survivability also was measured during operating conditions including high ammonia concentration, high and low pressures, and exhaust temperatures up to 700 degrees Celsius. Transient testing was performed using the highway FTP transient cycle and the nonroad transient cycle.

In all, 12 sensors were mounted in engine exhaust systems and used simultaneously during the first year.

"This opens up the possibility of using real-time, onboard particle sensing for numerous engine and instrument applications such as onboard diagnostics for exhaust particle filters, retrofit technology, engine control, inspection and maintenance, portable emissions, smoke meter replacement and others," Khalek said. "The applications of a real-time particle sensor are limitless."

While the first year of the PSPD consortium demonstrated high promise for real-time particle sensing, Khalek said it is important now to demonstrate that the sensors are durable and will perform equally well after long-term engine operation and exhaust exposure. Research goals in the second year will include both improved sensor performance and durability.

"However, the best value for consortium members will require cooperation and contributions from engine and sensor manufacturers, as well as other stakeholders. More thorough evaluation can be performed if participation in the consortium expands," Khalek said. "The objective is not to identify one 'winner,' but rather to clearly identify unique characteristics that may be more beneficial for specific applications. The PSPD consortium can save manufacturers money by avoiding the duplicated effort and costs of conducting independent research," he said.

The start date for Year 2 is June 1, 2013. The annual membership fee is $55,000. To join, or for more information, contact Khalek at (210) 522-2536 or ikhalek@swri.org.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.