Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI launches Particle Sensor Performance and Durability consortium

For immediate release

San Antonio — April 2, 2012 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will launch a cooperative research consortium to investigate the performance and durability of particle sensors designed for onboard diagnostics and diesel engine emissions control.

Sensors that trigger engine malfunction illumination light (MIL) or a fault code when particle emissions exceed a certain threshold downstream of an exhaust diesel particle filter (DPF) will soon be required to meet California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency onboard diagnostics regulations. Particle sensors assess how well particle filters keep particulate matter from being emitted to the atmosphere, in compliance with emissions regulations.

While many potentially useable sensors available in the marketplace today target onboard diagnostics and engine-control applications, more knowledge is needed about how these particle sensors perform in engine-exhaust applications where temperature, flow and particle characteristics change under different engine operating conditions.

The Particle Sensor Performance and Durability (PSPD) consortium will investigate how particle sensors perform under different exhaust parameters, including temperature, velocity, size distribution, number and mass concentration. Particle sensors are expected to become a critical onboard diagnostic (OBD) component for detecting particle emissions failure from downstream of an exhaust DPF. However, it is equally critical that these sensors prove they can perform their tasks before they are launched on a commercial scale. SwRI will capitalize on its knowledge and expertise in the area of engine and particle science and technology to conduct this work.

"Before particle sensors are installed on vehicles in large numbers, we need to get a great deal more information on how effective they are in measuring particulate matter," said Dr. Imad A. Khalek, a senior program manager in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division who leads the newly formed consortium. "This consortium will help the industry determine whether certain particle sensors are sensitive to changes in particle size, number, surface area, volume, mass, charge and morphology. It will also help determine how durable and repeatable they are in the harsh exhaust environment."

Test data produced by the consortium will free resources of original equipment manufacturers, allowing them to concentrate on product development rather than performing particle-sensor assessments.

Five engine manufacturers and three sensor makers from the United States, Japan, Germany and France have joined the PSPD consortium to date. A kick-off meeting is scheduled April 3, 2012, at SwRI's headquarters in San Antonio. The annual membership fee is $55,000, with the first year beginning April 15, 2012. A second optional year with the same fee is planned for Year 2. Year 1 focuses on sensor performance and Year 2 focuses on sensor durability.

For more information or questions on the PSPD consortium, please contact Khalek by email at or by phone at (210) 522-2536.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, +1 210 522 2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.