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 help 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 originate 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. Resulting in the opportunity to now offer two different emissions-control options for auto manufacturers:

First, Corning® FLORA® substrates, specifically designed to allow the catalysts to heat faster and reduce harmful gases that occur just after an engine starts. 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 compared to 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 than conventional substrates, often many seconds sooner.

This can result in an up to 20% improvement in cold-start regulated emissions, helping to bring overall emissions into compliance with most upcoming regulations such as SULEV30 in the United States. In addition, with system optimization, it can also help to reduce the amount of precious metal catalyst needed, lowering the cost of the catalyst.

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 energy 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.

A second option that Corning just introduced to the market, are Corning® Catalyst Heaters. Corning’s latest innovation in emissions-control technologies uses active electric heating to tackle the challenge of cold-start emissions.

The Corning Catalyst Heater is a thin, metallic disc with the same honeycomb structure that is known from Corning ceramic substrates and particulate filters. The heater disc is then packaged into a metal housing, resulting in a heater module.

An alternating slit pattern in the honeycomb structure of the disc creates a very well-defined electrical path. The resistance of this electrical path can be adjusted, by defining design parameters such as cell density, web thickness or the number of slits. Most commonly, the Catalyst Heater sits in the very first position of an exhaust system, so that once electrical power is applied to the disc, the downstream catalyst gets rapidly heated up. By quickly bringing the exhaust system up to operating temperatures, Catalyst Heaters can significantly reduce cold-start emissions. This is achieved with a minimum impact on backpressure which is a favorable factor as it impacts engine efficiency and therefore CO2 emissions levels.

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

As governments around the world keep tightening emissions standards, Corning continues to work closely with customers to develop solutions to meet new requirements. And to make the air you breathe cleaner and safer.