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.