A Destruction Mechanism of a Three-Way Catalyst Due to a Failure of Fuel Supply in a Spark Ignition Engine


Misfires and fuel shutdown have similar features and affect similarly on overheating the three-way catalyst (TWC). In practice, this similarity is an obstacle to determining whether the misfires or fuel shutdown cause failure of the TWC. Meanwhile, it is of great importance to distinguish fuel shutdown as an original reason from others because its consequences may be tremendous for both the environment and safety. The destruction mechanism of the TWC resulting from the shutdown of fuel supply is described in detail. The mechanism is confirmed by the experimental data obtained on a four-cylinder in-line engine tested on motor bench. The burning process is transferred from the cylinders into the TWC during the fuel shutdown event. The entire process is divided into several stages. Initially, the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders changes so that the air/fuel ratio increases, reaching the lean misfire limit and going beyond this limit, which makes the air-fuel mixture non-combustible. The remains of fuel and oxygen unreacted in the cylinders enter the TWC where combustion occurs in a combination of the catalytic mode, flame combustion in the porous medium and free flame. The destruction mechanism of the TWC due to the fuel shutdown is a sequence of rapid changes in combustion modes in the engine and in the TWC. It may seem strange, since the expected consequence should be a decrease in temperature, as the amount of fuel supplied is reduced. Contrary to the expectations, the fuel shutdown leads to an abrupt heating of the TWC and its complete destruction in an extreme case.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. A special thanks to Vladimir Pashchenko, Viktor Baldin and Taras Pekarskij for their help in conducting the experiments and discussing the results.

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Porsin, A.V., Bubnov, K.V., Moskalets, Y.A. et al. A Destruction Mechanism of a Three-Way Catalyst Due to a Failure of Fuel Supply in a Spark Ignition Engine. Emiss. Control Sci. Technol. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40825-021-00187-1

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  • TWC destruction mechanism
  • Spark ignition engine
  • Fuel shutdown