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Eaton Acquires Catalytica Energy Systems’ Diesel Fuel Processing Technology

Catalytica fuel processor + LNT. Click to enlarge.

Eaton Corporation has acquired the diesel fuel processing technology and associated business assets of Catalytica Energy Systems Inc. for US$2.4 million.

Catalytica’s Xonon diesel fuel processing (XFP) technology (earlier post) converts a portion of diesel fuel to reactive reductants that regenerate and desulfate a NOx trap at low temperatures, resulting in higher NOx conversion and less of a fuel-economy penalty on the system.

An OEM version of the system promised 90% reduction in NOx with approximately a 2%–3% fuel penalty in most engine conditions. A retrofit version delivered more than 50% reductions in earlier testing.

Under the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement, Eaton will receive the assignment and license of intellectual property relating to that diesel fuel processing system and the transfer of certain assets. Additionally, Eaton will take over Catalytica Energy Systems’ research and development facility in Mountain View, California.

This sale marks Catalytica Energy Systems’ exit from the diesel emissions control business.

Completing this sale further strengthens our balance sheet, reduces significantly our cash consumption, mitigates our technology risk, and positions us to become a stronger, self-sustaining company with our SCR catalyst and management services business serving as a solid foundation for growth. We concluded that the value of our diesel technology could be more successfully harvested by an organization with greater financial resources, integration and commercial experience in the diesel industry. This sale will enable us to redeploy our resources on commercial opportunities yielding greater near-term revenue streams and return on investment.

—Rob Zack, president and CEO of Catalytica Energy Systems


Rafael Seidl

Another big advantage here is that the additional fuel required to purge the NOx trap is injected directly into the exhaust gas. This decouples the intrinsic dynamics of the aftertreatment system from the engine map, radically reducing the application effort and enabling retrofit concepts.

Having a low-pressure fuel injector in the exhaust also decouples purges of the wall-flow DPF (if present) and lets any catalysts in the chain reach their light-off temperature much faster after a cold engine start (also relevant for HEV concepts).

The additional expense and safety issues of the injector will likely limit the potential market to low-volume models, e.g. HDVs, buses etc. In the US, manufacturers of such vehicle must find ways to reduce tailpipe NOx concentrations by >80% relative to 2005 levels by 2010. Many can ill afford a complete engine redesign or even extensive re-programming of the engine controller.


Basically, it provides for an alternative to specifically designed, tuned, and tuned vehicle powerplant and emission systems; a modular systems. Have a vehicle with a clean enough engine, and this will do the rest.
_As I recall, GM has something similar to this in the works. This may put them in position for a Tier2Bin5 diesel that is affordable, and more profitable.
_Faster lightoffs for emission control systems mean smoky starts are not as pervasive, or perhaps even nonexistent. This will be a boon for those in daily contact with lots of diesel vehicles. Retrofitting this in older vehicles may not be economical (for now), unless coupled with equipment that increases fuel economy, like Hy-Drive's H2 generation units. Further down the line, as more stringent emission regulations come online, this might be a good option, or at least a stopgap, for fleet operators.


Delphi announced its version 4/05; the technology probably came with the spinoff since Delphi took the cat business. They are pitching it as the more compliant alternative to SCR. In production for 2010 they say.


The core chemical reaction in three-way cat and during NOx absorber regeneration is NO/NO2 +HC = N2 + CO2 + H2O. Generally reaction is using produced H2 as reduction agent, and hence could take place only when there is no oxygen in the exhaust. Stoichiometric gasoline engines have virtually no O2 in the exhaust, so three-way cat is working for them as swisswork watch. In order to work on diesel, additional amount of fuel should be burned into exhaust stream to consume oxygen during regenerative event. All energy of this fuel is lost. From the point of view of untaxed fuel cost this process is more efficient than urea injection. The picture is different in Europe, where fuel is heavily taxed and extremely energy-heavy urea is not. But this is not my point: NOx absorbers is new and not yet mature technology, while urea injection works, well, like swisswork.

Described technology, and one developed in MIT and using plasma converter, are relying on generation of hydrogen-rich gas directly injected into exhaust stream and working on regeneration of NOx absorber. No need to burn-out all oxygen. It promises to be more energy efficient then traditional method.


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