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SwRI ECTO-Lab quickly, cost-effectively qualifies catalysts, emission control products

Dec. 12, 2017 — Southwest Research Institute recently opened a new fully automated, multi-fuel burner facility designed to rapidly and cost-effectively age and evaluate exhaust catalyst equipment for a wide range of engines. The Exhaust Component Transient Operation Laboratory™ — ECTO-Lab™ — uses SwRI-developed modular technology that is also available for purchase and installation at client facilities.  

“SwRI’s ECTO-Lab provides the ultimate flexibility for catalyst and aftertreatment testing, accommodating full-sized catalysts from light-duty gasoline engines to large, heavy-duty diesel and natural gas engines,” said Assistant Director Dr. Cary Henry, who oversees SwRI’s catalyst and aftertreatment research and development activities. “Our newest ECTO-Lab technology offers an expanded flow range of up to 3,250 kg/hr allowing us to simulate exhaust from large stationary engines.” 

Aftertreatment equipment processes exhaust emissions to remove potentially harmful gases and particulates to help engines meet increasingly strict regulations. These include catalytic converters common on gasoline vehicles as well as diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, selective catalytic reduction catalysts and ammonia slip components. The ECTO-Lab facility assesses the performance and durability of these products in service.

Traditionally, these tests have been conducted on engine test stands, but increasingly complex emission control systems compound design and evaluation efforts. SwRI’s burner-based approach can safely and efficiently simulate the exhaust gas conditions for a variety of internal combustion engines, streamlining the evaluation of catalyst components and emission control systems and saving clients time and money. SwRI has also improved system controls, allowing precise control of low exhaust flow rates. This increased capability enables the ECTO-Lab technology to simulate engines as small as 1.5 L. This results in a system capable of replicating the exhaust gas profiles for engines from 1.5 L to 30 L.

“Burner systems use less fuel, making them a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative,” Henry said. “The modular structure allows components to be added to the base combustor and water-to-air-heat exchanger to simulate stoichiometric or lean-burn multi-fuel engines. We can also replicate full transient exhaust traces for these engine applications. SwRI’s modular ECTO technology can assess aftertreatment equipment for ‘Any Engine, Anytime, Anywhere™.’”

For more information, contact Rob Leibold, (210) 522-2258, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.