Mathematical modeling of catalytic converter lightoff: Single-pellet studies



A detailed mathematical model of a single catalyst pellet has been developed to describe its behavior under transient conditions encountered during the warmup period of automobile exhaust catalytic converters. In contrast to the converter models previously reported in the literature, this model is capable of describing the time-dependent behavior of a composite catalyst pellet, and thus provides a convenient means of examining the effects of poison penetration and various noble metal impregnation strategies in the activity-time (rather than activity-temperature) domain.

Extensive calculations were carried out to investigate the effects of various catalyst design parameters and converter operating conditions on the lightoff behavior of a spherical, platinum-alumina catalyst pellet. Due to the complex kinetics of the CO and hydrocarbon oxidation reactions, catalyst lightoff was found to exhibit interesting behavior with respect to variations of the system's design parameters and operating conditions. Graphs are presented to illustrate the parameteric sensitivity of these effects.