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.