Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI wins R&D 100 Award for Catalyzed Diesel Exhaust Fluid technology

October 25, 2021 — Catalyzed Diesel Exhaust Fluid, or Cat-DEF™, a catalyst- and surfactant-modified diesel exhaust fluid solution developed by Southwest Research Institute, was named one of the 100 most significant innovations of 2021 by R&D World magazine.

The novel technology offers improvements in nitrous oxide (NOX) and carbon dioxide emissions for diesel engines by reducing undesirable deposit formation in exhaust systems. The SwRI-developed Cat-DEF technology has been shown to help automotive manufacturers meet new California Air Resources Board NOX regulations without negative implications.

“This is truly a revolutionary technology,” said Dr. Cary Henry, Cat-DEF principal investigator and a staff engineer in SwRI’s Powertrain Engineering Division. “We are addressing future environmental regulatory challenges while minimizing cost to the market. Our novel technology is also backward compatible, which allows it to be used on older as well as current applications. This technology offers a new way to improve existing fluids onboard diesel vehicles while reducing NOX emissions and fuel consumption without negatively impacting hardware costs or durability.”

Currently, selective catalytic reduction (SCR), an advanced emissions control technology system, is used to address NOX emissions abatement. SCR is an externally supplied solution designed to react with NOX in the exhaust. Diesel exhaust fluid is typically incorporated in mobile applications where the DEF is injected into the exhaust stream and ideally decomposes to form ammonia. Although this process is relatively efficient at temperatures greater than 250 °C, at temperatures below 250 °C, urea-derived deposits form within the aftertreatment system. Urea-derived deposits severely limit low-temperature NOX conversion and increase fuel consumption as high temperature operation of the engine is required to remove the deposits.

Cat-DEF laboratory results have confirmed a deposit reduction potential of up to 98% during low-load operation. With the reduction in deposit formation, the Cat-DEF system can support a 90% reduction in harmful NOX emissions and a 2% reduction in fuel consumption for heavy-duty diesel trucks. It has been shown in rigorous engine testing to help automotive manufacturers cost effectively meet future emission regulations for heavy-duty and off-highway mobile machinery.

Along with future emission regulations, the technology could further reduce NOX emissions and improve fuel economy for older diesel engines. Engine and truck manufacturers interested in  incorporating Cat-DEF technology can specify it on existing engines, providing a cost-effective method to meet emission regulations on existing fleets.

“We are committed to solving difficult technology challenges with innovative approaches,” said SwRI President and CEO Adam L. Hamilton, P.E. “I am honored that SwRI remains on the forefront of technological advancement. It is an incredible honor to be recognized for having three of the top 100 most significant innovations of the year.”

In addition to Cat-DEF, SwRI-developed technologies Floodlight™ Non-Targeted Analysis System and Eco-Mobility with Connected Powertrains were recognized at this year’s innovation awards competition. The R&D 100 Awards are among the most prestigious innovation awards programs, honoring the top 100 revolutionary technologies each year since 1963. Recipients hail from research institutions, academic and government laboratories, Fortune 500 companies and smaller organizations. Since 1971, SwRI has won 50 R&D 100 Awards.

For more information visit Aftertreatment Systems Technologies, or contact Tracey Whelan, +1 210 522 2256, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.