Cold Start Emissions | Automotive Market | Environmental Technologies | Corning

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

Corning® FLORA® substrates eliminate harmful emissions when they’re highest – moments after starting the engine

In the time it takes you to turn on your ignition on a cold winter’s day, buckle your seatbelt, adjust your mirrors, and ease out of your parking spot, your car has probably emitted more harmful gases into the air than it would during 200 miles of highway driving.

It’s not your fault. It’s standard operating procedure for most vehicles on the road today.

But aren’t vehicles much cleaner than they used to be?

The answer, in part, is yes. Once an engine heats up, components like Corning’s clean-air substrates dramatically improve air quality coming out of vehicle tailpipes.

But cold-start emissions – the dangerous gases produced during the first 60 seconds or so after ignition – continue to represent the most toxic segment of the engine operating cycle. In fact, more than 70 percent of all the harmful gas emissions from a single average drive come during this cold-start immediately after start-up.

That’s because catalysts typically don’t reach full efficiency until the engine exhaust gas heats the catalyst up to the temperature at which catalytic reactions are initiated within a catalytic converter. So as regulators and citizens around the world continue their expectations for more vehicular emissions reduction, Corning innovators have intensified their focus on this critical first-minute window.

The result is the Corning® FLORA® substrate, specifically designed to allow the catalysts to heat faster and reduce harmful gases that occur just after an engine starts. FLORA substrates are one of Corning’s newest clean-air innovations, drawn from more than 40 years of development and manufacturing expertise in emissions control products.

FLORA substrates, like many of Corning’s clean-air products, begin with cordierite, a high temperature, lightweight, low-expansion ceramic material. FLORA substrates, however, using a unique compositional approach, achieve a much lower mass than standard substrates, up to 35%, while maintaining structural and thermal-mechanical integrity.

With a super-low mass and high durability, FLORA substrates can rapidly absorb the heat from a just-started engine, allowing the catalytic coating to heat up to full thermal efficiency more quickly – often many seconds sooner – than conventional substrates.

This can result in up to a 20% improvement in cold-start regulated emissions to bring overall emissions well into compliance with most upcoming regulations such as SULEV30 in the United States. In addition, with system optimization, it can also result in precious metal catalyst savings.

During the cold start, additional fuel needs to be consumed to increase the exhaust gas temperature. But with FLORA, this fuel consumption during cold start could be reduced, as FLORA requires less heat to reach the catalyst light-off temperature. Yet FLORA substrates feature the same great durability that customers have come to expect from other Corning substrates.

Other industry options to lower harmful cold-start emissions – like the use of more precious metals in catalytic coating – are costly and still require additional fuel during cold-start. That’s one reason automakers like Honda have found FLORA to be an ideal solution to the cold-start emissions challenge. Several key Honda platforms have featured FLORA in US models since 2016.

Both light-duty gasoline and diesel applications have the potential to benefit from FLORA.

While gaseous material represents the bulk of harmful emissions during cold-engine start-up, some carbon particulate is commonly part of the mix, too.  In Europe and China where more stringent particulate regulations are in effect for gasoline vehicles, automakers are turning to Corning DuraTrap® GC filters to efficiently eliminate particulate matter and result in even cleaner emissions.

And as it has done for decades, Corning works closely with customers to develop solutions to meet requirements while continuing to innovate to make the air you breathe cleaner and safer.