Engelhard Scientists Honored For Auto-Emission Technology Breakthrough

ISELIN, NJ, Novem­ber 11, 2004— Local Engel­hard sci­en­tists who invented a novel tech­nol­ogy that enables automak­ers to cost effec­tively com­ply with increas­ingly strin­gent engine-emission stan­dards, are recip­i­ents of a 2004 Thomas Alva Edi­son Patent Award.

The Research & Devel­op­ment Coun­cil of New Jer­sey pre­sented Harold Rabi­nowitz, Ron Heck and Zhicheng Hu with the award which rec­og­nizes ded­i­ca­tion to research and devel­op­ment that leads to truly inno­v­a­tive breakthroughs.

Rabi­nowitz, Heck and Hu were hon­ored at the R&D Council’s annual awards din­ner on Novem­ber 11, 2004 at New Jersey’s Lib­erty Sci­ence Center.

This inven­tion is one of the crit­i­cal enablers for a sub­stan­tial increase in the effi­ciency of cat­alytic emis­sion con­trol with­out a sig­nif­i­cant increase in cost,” said Mikhail Rod­kin, direc­tor of research and devel­op­ment, Envi­ron­men­tal Tech­nolo­gies. “It’s also a good exam­ple of the inge­nu­ity of Engel­hard sci­en­tists in the face of a for­mi­da­ble tech­ni­cal chal­lenge and mar­ket pressures.”

In the early 1990s, auto-emission sys­tems typ­i­cally con­tained two cat­a­lysts located under the vehi­cle floor away from the engine. Plac­ing the cat­a­lysts there pro­tected them from the extreme heat of engine exhaust gases, but led to a long warm-up time and high “cold-start” emis­sions (those dur­ing the first two min­utes fol­low­ing igni­tion). To com­pen­sate for low cat­alytic activ­ity at low tem­per­a­tures, the cat­a­lysts had to con­tain sig­nif­i­cant amounts of pre­cious met­als, typ­i­cally plat­inum and rhodium. The three Engel­hard sci­en­tists invented a close-coupled cat­a­lyst sys­tem that changed this paradigm.

The essence of the dis­cov­ery made by Rabi­nowitz, Heck and Hu was to employ a pal­la­dium cat­a­lyst with sub­stan­tially no addi­tional oxy­gen stor­age com­po­nent in the first close-coupled posi­tion, fol­lowed by down­stream cat­a­lyst that includes an oxy­gen stor­age com­po­nent. This enabled the use of the more ther­mally sta­ble and lower-cost pal­la­dium in the close-coupled cat­a­lyst with­out adversely affect­ing cat­alytic activity.

To date, close-coupled cat­a­lysts have been installed on an esti­mated 10 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide. Their use has enabled many SUVs to have emis­sions com­pa­ra­ble to those from automobiles.