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International Journal of Automotive Technology, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp.

723731 (2014) Copyright 2014 KSAE/ 07904


DOI 10.1007/s122390140075x pISSN 12299138/ eISSN 19763832

UREA-SCR SYSTEM OPTIMIZATION WITH VARIOUS COMBINATIONS


OF MIXER TYPES AND DECOMPOSITION PIPE LENGTHS

Y. S. CHO1), S. W. LEE1), W. C. CHOI1)* and Y. B. YOON2)


1)
Department of Automotive Engineering, Kookmin University, Seoul 136-702, Korea
2)
Graduate School of Automotive Engineering, Kookmin University, Seoul 136-702, Korea

(Received 10 May 2013; Revised 1 August 2013; Accepted 6 August 2013)

ABSTRACTThe demand for NOx after-treatment system has increased dramatically due to the stricter NOx emission
regulations for diesel vehicles. The urea-SCR system is one of the NOx after-treatment methods found to be quite effective to
meet the regulation requirement enforced by various authorities including the Euro-6. In order to develop an effective urea-
SCR system, it is critical to establish an even distribution of reductant over the catalyst surface since this favorable distribution
can increase reduction reaction and in turn, improve NOx conversion efficiencies. In the current study, a number of design
variations of the urea-SCR system which included two mixer types and three decomposition pipe lengths, were evaluated
systematically using CFD analysis and experimental measurements. The purpose of the CFD analysis was to estimate the
distribution of reductant within the urea-SCR system with a specific configuration and the purpose of the engine emission test
was to measure the amount of NOx reduction, respectively. The results from the systematic analysis revealed the relation
between the reductant distribution over the SCR and the performance of the NOx reduction.

KEY WORDS : Urea-SCR, After-treatment system, Blade mixer, Decomposition pipe, Reductant distribution, NOx
conversion efficiency

1. INTRODUCTION technique using gaseous reductant, typically anhydrous,


aqueous ammonia (NH3) or urea as a reducing agent. In
With rapidly depleting petroleum resource, thermally most cases, it is not practical to use anhydrous ammonia or
efficient diesel engines are attracting renewed attention aqueous ammonia mainly due to the toxicity. Especially in
over gasoline engines more than ever before. While diesel the automotive applications where the safety of passengers
engines are superior with its lower fuel consumption and is the utmost issue, urea is preferred over the others mainly
lower CO2 emission compared to those from gasoline for its ease of handling and the practicality of storing even
engines, they are inferior in the area of pollutant emission though urea requires extra reaction steps to become
with their NOx and particulate matters (PM). Over the last effective a reductant (Clark et al., 2012; Herner et al., 2011).
few decades, a number of advanced engine technologies Urea is fed through an injector in aqueous form and it goes
such as an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system and a through atomization, evaporation, thermal decomposition
high pressure fuel injection system, have been developed to and hydrolysis to become a final reducing agent, ammonia.
reduce the NOx and PM pollutions from the diesel engines. With these necessary conversion processes, involved with
Even with these technologies, yet further refinements and the use of urea as a reducing agent, it inevitably requires
additional technologies especially in the field of after- extra reaction time for urea to be converted into ammonia.
treatment of the emission gas have been continuously As a result, one of the critical design points of the urea-
developed to answer ever tightening regulations for SCR system becomes to ensure the enough reaction time
pollutant emissions. Thus, more recently, a diesel oxidation since the preparative reaction of the urea would strongly
catalyst (DOC) to control the hydrocarbon emission, a lean affect the final NOx conversion efficiency of the urea-SCR
NOx Trap (LNT) and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system (Oh et al., 2007). Another important design goal of
to reduce the NOx emission and a diesel particulate filter the urea-SCR system is to distribute the reductant as
(DPF) to filter the particulate matter are persistently uniformly as possible right in front of the SCR catalyst to
developed and utilized (Snow et al., 2007). One of the most maximize the contact between the ammonia and the
favorable NOx conversion technologies is the SCR catalyst. When the ammonia is properly distributed over
the whole area of the catalyst surface, it becomes possible
to maximize the use of urea over the whole surface of the
*Corresponding author. e-mail: danchoi@kookmin.ac.kr catalyst resulting into an improved NOx conversion

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724 Y. S. CHO, S. W. LEE, W. C. CHOI and Y. B. YOON

efficiency avoiding unnecessary waste of the urea. experimental measurements for the NOx conversion
Furthermore, the uniform distribution of the reductant efficiency are provided in Section 4 and Section 5,
would ensure the minimization of the ammonia slipping by respectively.
avoiding locally excessive amount of ammonia that might
slip without the proper reductant reactions (Zhang et al., 3. VARIOUS DESIGN CONFIGURATIONS OF
2006; Jeong and Lee, 2008; Zheng et al., 2009). Therefore, THE EXHAUST SYSTEM
in this research, in order to improve the NOx conversion
efficiency of the urea-SCR system, a decomposition pipe After the successful establishment of the base line results,
and a mixer is installed in front of the SCR to monitor the systematic investigations were prepared to evaluate the
effect to the reaction time and the reductant distribution. A effects from three design parameters, namely mixer design
number of combinations of three different lengths of changes (number of mixer blade changes), decomposition
decomposition pipes and two different types of mixers are pipe length variations and the mixer locations. Except for
systematically investigated to optimize the after-treatment these three design parameters, overall shape of the exhaust
system design. The distributions of the reductant for system was maintained as it should be. As illustrated in
various cases are estimated using a numerical simulation Figure 2 (a) and Figure 2 (b), two types of the mixer (one
technique. Also, the NOx conversion efficiencies for
corresponding cases are measured through experiments to
analyze the relation between the distribution of the
reductant and the NOx conversion efficiencies.

2. BASE DESIGN CONFIGURATION OF THE


EXHAUST SYSTEM

With the wealth of proofs from many other researches, it


has been well known that the velocity field and the
eventual mixing characteristics in the exhaust pipe are
affected by differences in the geometry of the exhaust
system (Jeong et al., 2005; Chen and Williams, 2005). For
the current study, a base geometry of the exhaust system
and a corresponding operating condition of a diesel engine
was fixed to establish a base velocity field of the exhaust
gas flow that entered into the urea-SCR system where a
decomposition pipe and a mixer were arranged. The base
geometry of the exhaust system consisted of a 150 mm of
the decomposition pipe without a mixer as shown in Figure
1. Just as in a typical exhaust system, a combination of a
DOC, an SCR and a DPF were installed appropriately for
the analysis of the distribution of the reductant and the NOx
conversion efficiency. A urea injector was positioned at the
curved area of the exhaust pipe as shown in Figure 1. Also,
the injector was mounted in line with the center of the
decomposition pipe. With a successful setup of the base
design configuration, the numerical analysis for the
distribution of the reductant and the experimental
measurement of the NOx conversion efficiency were
carried out to establish the base line performance of the
exhaust system. Detailed descriptions of the numerical
analysis for the distribution of the reductant and the

Figure 2. Design parameters of the exhaust system (a)


Figure 1. Geometry and size of urea-SCR for 2.7 L engine Number of mixer blades (b) Length of decomposition pipe
(not in scale). and location of mixer.