Title:
Exhaust gas control apparatus for internal combustion engine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A SOx trap catalyst, an oxidation catalyst, a particulate filter, an aqueous urea supply valve, and a NOx selective reduction catalyst are arranged in order from upstream to downstream in an engine exhaust passage. It is determined whether a discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide H2S will become equal to or greater than a preset maximum concentration when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst. If it is estimated that the discharge concentration of the hydrogen sulfide H2S will become equal to or greater than the maximum concentration when SOx is released, an adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is reduced before SOx is released so that the discharge concentration of the hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the maximum concentration when SOx is released.



Inventors:
Yoshida, Kohei (Gotenba-shi, JP)
Asanuma, Takamitsu (Mishima-shi, JP)
Nishioka, Hiromasa (Susono-shi, JP)
Otsuki, Hiroshi (Susono-shi, JP)
Nakata, Yuka (Susono-shi, JP)
Application Number:
12/289239
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/23/2008
Assignee:
TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA (TOYOTA-SHI, JP)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
60/299
International Classes:
F01N9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ELNOUBI, ABDELRAHMAN SAID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OLIFF PLC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An exhaust gas control apparatus for an internal combustion engine, comprising: a NOx selective reduction catalyst which is arranged in an engine exhaust passage and selectively reduces NOx in exhaust gas using ammonia when an air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas is lean; a SOx trap catalyst which is arranged in the engine exhaust passage upstream of the NOx selective reduction catalyst and traps SOx in the exhaust gas; and a control apparatus that controls the state of the exhaust gas, wherein the control apparatus i) reduces an adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst before SOx is released or ii) reduces the amount of SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst when SOx is released, such that a discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide is less than a preset maximum concentration when SOx is released.

2. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: an estimating apparatus that estimates whether the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide will be equal to or greater than the maximum concentration when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst, wherein when it is estimated that the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide will be equal to or greater than the maximum concentration when SOx is released, the control apparatus i) reduces the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst before SOx is released or ii) reduces the amount of SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst when SOx is released, such that the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide is less than the maximum concentration when SOx is released.

3. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 1, wherein when releasing SOx from the SOx trap catalyst, the control apparatus reduces the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst before SOx is released until the adsorbed ammonia amount is less than a preset maximum adsorption amount.

4. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 3, further comprising: a determining apparatus that determines whether the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is equal to or greater than the maximum adsorption amount when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst, wherein when it is determined that the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is equal to or greater than the maximum adsorption amount, the control apparatus reduces the adsorbed ammonia amount until the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is less than the maximum adsorption amount before releasing SOx.

5. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 1, wherein when releasing SOx from the SOx trap catalyst, the control apparatus sets an air-fuel ratio to a first target air-fuel ratio when the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is less than a preset maximum adsorption amount; and the control apparatus sets the air-fuel ratio to a second target air-fuel ratio which is greater than the first target air-fuel ratio when the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is equal to or greater than a maximum adsorption amount and a concentration of released SOx is larger than a threshold value.

6. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 5, wherein if the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is less than the maximum adsorption amount, the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide is less than the maximum concentration regardless of the concentration of released SOx; and if the concentration of released SOx is equal to or less than the threshold value, the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide is less than the maximum concentration regardless of the adsorbed ammonia amount.

7. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 1, wherein when SOx is to be released from the SOx trap catalyst, the control apparatus makes the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas flowing into the SOx trap catalyst rich.

8. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: an aqueous urea supply valve arranged in the engine exhaust passage upstream of the NOx selective reduction catalyst, wherein when it is estimated that the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide will be equal to or greater than the maximum concentration when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst, the control apparatus i) reduces the amount of aqueous urea supplied before releasing SOx or ii) stops the supply of aqueous urea before releasing SOx before releasing SOx, such that the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide is less than the maximum concentration when SOx is released.

9. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 8, wherein when reducing the amount of aqueous urea supplied or stopping the supply of aqueous urea, the control apparatus increases the amount of NOx discharged from the engine.

10. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 8, wherein when reducing the amount of aqueous urea supplied or stopping the supply of aqueous urea, the control apparatus raises the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst.

11. The exhaust gas control apparatus according to claim 8, wherein when it is determined that the adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst is equal to or greater than the maximum adsorption amount when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst, the control apparatus reduces the amount of supplied aqueous urea before releasing SOx or stops the supply of aqueous urea before releasing SOx.

Description:

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The disclosure of Japanese Patent Application No. 2007-277724 filed on Oct. 25, 2007, including the specification, drawings and abstract is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to an exhaust gas control apparatus for an internal combustion engine.

2. Description of the Related Art

Japanese Patent Application Publication No. 2006-512529 (JP-A-2006-512529) describes an internal combustion engine which has a NOx storage catalyst provided in an engine exhaust passage and a NOx selective reduction catalyst provided downstream of the NOx storage catalyst in the engine exhaust passage. The NOx storage catalyst stores NOx in the exhaust gas when the air-fuel ratio of the inflowing exhaust gas is lean, and releases the stored NOx when the air-fuel ratio of the inflowing exhaust gas becomes equal to the stoichiometric air-fuel ratio or rich. The NOx selective reduction catalyst is able to selectively reduce NOx in the exhaust gas using ammonia when the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas is lean. When stored NOx needs to be released from the NOx storage catalyst, the internal combustion engine makes the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx storage catalyst rich.

In this internal combustion engine, a large portion of NOx produced during combustion with a lean air-fuel ratio is stored in the NOx storage catalyst. The NOx that is not stored in the NOx storage catalyst flows into the NOx selective reduction catalyst located downstream. In this internal combustion engine, however, the NOx released from the NOx storage catalyst when the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx storage catalyst is rich reacts with large amounts of HC in the exhaust gas, producing ammonia NH3 which is adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst. Accordingly, when combustion is performed with a lean air-fuel ratio, the NOx that passes through the NOx storage catalyst is reduced by this adsorbed ammonia in the NOx selective reduction catalyst such that NOx is able to be successfully purified.

Exhaust gas also contains SOx which also gets stored in the NOx storage catalyst. As the amount of SOx stored in the NOx storage catalyst increases, less NOx is able to be stored so when a NOx storage catalyst is used, SOx needs to occasionally be released from the NOx storage catalyst. In this case, SOx can be released from the NOx storage catalyst by making the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx storage catalyst is rich when the temperature of the NOx storage catalyst is increased to 600° C. or more.

When SOx is released from the NOx storage catalyst, it reacts with the adsorbed ammonia in the NOx selective reduction catalyst, producing hydrogen sulfide. In this case, however, not much SOx is released from the NOx storage catalyst so not much hydrogen sulfide is produced.

SOx in the exhaust gas substantially reduces the durability and performance of post-processing apparatuses such as exhaust gas control catalysts so it is necessary to remove it from the exhaust gas. To do this, it is preferable to provide a SOx trap catalyst capable of trapping the SOx in the exhaust gas. However, even when such a SOx trap catalyst is used, the SOx must be released from the SOx trap catalyst before the SOx trap catalyst becomes saturated with SOx. However, unlike the NOx storage catalyst, the SOx trap catalyst is designed to trap SOx so large amounts of SOx are trapped in the SOx trap catalyst.

Therefore, when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst, it is released in large amounts. Accordingly, when a SOx trap catalyst is used, large amounts of hydrogen sulfide are produced in the NOx selective reduction catalyst In this case, when high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide are discharged into the atmosphere, a very irritating odor is produced. Thus there is a need to keep the concentration of hydrogen sulfide that is discharged down to an allowable concentration at which the irritating odor is almost unnoticeable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore one aspect of this invention relates to an exhaust gas control apparatus for an internal combustion engine, which includes a NOx selective reduction catalyst which is arranged in an engine exhaust passage and selectively reduces NOx in exhaust gas using ammonia when an air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas is lean, a SOx trap catalyst which is arranged in the engine exhaust passage upstream of the NOx selective reduction catalyst and traps SOx in the exhaust gas, and a control apparatus that controls the state of the exhaust gas. The control apparatus i) reduces an adsorbed ammonia amount adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst before SOx is released or ii) reduces the amount of SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst when SOx is released, such that a discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide will be less than a preset maximum concentration when SOx is released.

This aspect makes it possible to make the irritating odor from hydrogen sulfide almost unnoticeable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features, advantages, and technical and industrial significance of this invention will be described in the following detailed description of example embodiments of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which like numerals denote like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an overall view of a compression ignition internal combustion engine;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a surface portion of a substrate of a SOx trap catalyst;

FIG. 3A is a graph showing the release rate of SOx from the SOx trap catalyst and the like;

FIG. 3B is a graph showing the release rate of SOx from the SOx trap catalyst;

FIG. 4A is a graph showing an adsorbed ammonia amount and the like;

FIG. 4B is a chart showing the relationship between the adsorbed ammonia amount and the supply timing of aqueous urea;

FIG. 4C is a map for calculating the amount of NOx discharged per unit of time from the engine;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a routine used to control the supply of aqueous urea;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a routine for releasing SOx;

FIG. 7 is a graph showing the discharge concentration and the allowable concentration of hydrogen sulfide H2S;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of a routine for executing a second example embodiment of SOx release control;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart of a routine for executing a third example embodiment of SOx release control;

FIG. 10A is a chart illustrating control to increase the amount of NOx discharged from the engine;

FIG. 10B is a map for calculating the amount of NOx amount discharged per unit of time from the engine;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of a routine for executing a fourth example embodiment of SOx release control;

FIGS. 12A and 12B are graphs showing the desorption rate of adsorbed ammonia;

FIG. 13 is a graph showing the allowable concentration of the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide H2S;

FIG. 14 is a flowchart of a routine for executing a fifth example embodiment of SOx release control;

FIG. 15 is a graph showing the allowable concentration of the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide H2S; and

FIG. 16 is a flowchart of a routine for executing a sixth example embodiment of SOx release control.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is an overall view of a compression ignition internal combustion engine. This internal combustion engine includes the engine 1 itself, a combustion chamber 2 in each cylinder, electronically controlled fuel injection valves 3 for injecting fuel into the combustion chambers 2, an intake manifold 4, and an exhaust manifold 5. The intake manifold 4 is connected to an outlet port of a compressor 7a of an exhaust turbocharger 7 via an intake duct 6, and an inlet port of the compressor 7a is connected to an air cleaner 9 via an intake air amount detector 8. A throttle valve 10 which is driven by a step motor is arranged inside the intake duct 6. Further, a cooling apparatus 11 for cooling the intake air that flows through the intake duct 6 is arranged around the intake duct 6. In the first example embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the intake air is cooled by engine coolant that is introduced into the cooling apparatus 11.

Meanwhile, the exhaust manifold 5 is connected to an inlet port of an exhaust turbine 7b of the exhaust turbocharger 7. An outlet port of the exhaust turbine 7b is connected to an inlet port of a SOx trap catalyst 12, and an outlet port of the SOx trap catalyst 12 is connected to an inlet port of an oxidation catalyst 13. Further, an outlet port of the oxidation catalyst 13 is connected to an inlet port of a particulate filter 14, and an outlet port of the particulate filter 14 is connected via an exhaust pipe 15 to a NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 which is capable of selectively reducing NOx in the exhaust gas using ammonia when the exhaust gas air-fuel ratio is lean. This NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is made from Fe zeolite, for example.

An aqueous urea supply valve 17 is arranged in the exhaust pipe 15 upstream of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16. This aqueous urea supply valve 17 is connected via a supply pipe 18 and a supply pump 19 to an aqueous urea tank 20. When aqueous urea is to be supplied, aqueous urea stored in the aqueous urea tank 20 is injected by the supply pump 19 from the aqueous urea supply valve 17 into the exhaust gas flowing through the exhaust pipe 15. At this time, the NOx in the exhaust gas is reduced in the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 by ammonia ((NH2)2CO+H2O→2NH3+CO2) produced by the urea.

The exhaust manifold 5 and the intake manifold 4 are connected together via an exhaust gas recirculation (hereinafter simply referred to as “EGR”) passage 21 in which an electronically controlled EGR control valve 22 is arranged. Also, a cooling apparatus 23 for cooling EGR gas flowing through the EGR passage 21 is arranged around the EGR passage 21 In the first example embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the EGR gas is cooled by engine coolant that is introduced into the cooling apparatus 23. Meanwhile, the fuel injection valves 3 are connected to a common rail 25 via fuel supply pipes 24. This common rail 25 is connected to a fuel tank 27 via an electronically controlled variable discharge fuel pump 26 which supplies fuel stored in the fuel tank 27 to the common rail 25. The fuel in the common rail 25 is then supplied to the fuel injection valves 3 via the fuel supply pipes 24.

An electronic control unit (ECU) 30 is formed of a digital computer and includes ROM (read only memory) 32, RAM (random access memory) 33, a CPU (a microprocessor) 34, an input port 35, and an output port 36, all of which are connected together via a bidirectional bus 31. A temperature sensor 28 for detecting the bed temperature of the SOx trap catalyst 12 is mounted to the SOx trap catalyst 12, and a temperature sensor 29 for detecting the bed temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is mounted to the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16. Output signals from these temperature sensors 28 and 29 and the intake air amount detector 8 are input to the input port 35 via corresponding AD converters 37. Also, a load sensor 41 that generates an output voltage proportional to a depression amount L of an accelerator pedal 40 is connected to the accelerator pedal 40, and the output voltage of this load sensor 41 is input to the input port 35 via a corresponding AD converter 37. Further, a crank angle sensor 42 that generates an output pulse every time a crankshaft rotates 15°, for example, is connected to the input port 35. Meanwhile, the output port 36 is connected to the fuel injection valves 3, the step motor for driving the throttle valve 10, the aqueous urea supply valve 17, the supply pump 19, the EGR control valve 22, and the fuel pump 26 via corresponding drive circuits 38. The ECU 30 controls, for example, the exhaust gas temperature or the exhaust gas air-fuel ratio via the fuel injection valves 3, the aqueous urea supply valve 17 and the like.

First the SOx trap catalyst 12 will be described. This SOx trap catalyst 12 is a monolith catalyst having, for example, a honeycomb structure with multiple exhaust gas holes extending in straight lines in the axial direction of the SOx trap catalyst 12. FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-section of a surface portion of a substrate 50 of the SOX trap catalyst 12. As shown in the drawing, a coat layer 51 is formed on the surface of the substrate 50, and a precious metal catalyst 52 is carried dispersed on the surface of this coat layer 51.

In the first example embodiment shown in FIG. 2, platinum Pt is used as the precious metal catalyst 52. The component forming the coat layer 51 may be at least one selected from the group consisting of an alkali metal, an alkali earth, and a rare earth. The alkali metal is, for example, kalium K, natrium Na, or cesium Cs. The alkali earth is, for example, barium Ba or calcium Ca. The rare earth is, for example, lanthanum La or yttrium Y That is, the coat layer 51 of the SOx trap catalyst 12 is strongly basic.

The SOx in the exhaust gas, i.e., SO2, oxidizes on the platinum Pt, as shown in FIG. 2, and then becomes trapped in the coat layer 51. That is, the SO2 diffuses in the coat layer 51 in the form of sulfate ions SO42−, thus forming hydrosulfate. Incidentally, as described above, the coat layer 51 is strongly basic so some of the SO2 in the exhaust gas becomes trapped directly in the coat layer 51, as shown in FIG. 2.

The shading in the coat layer 51 in FIG. 2 indicates the concentration of trapped SOx. As shown in FIG. 2, the SOx concentration in the coat layer 51 is highest * in the area near the surface of the coat layer 51 and becomes gradually lower deeper down. When the SOx concentration near the surface of the coat layer 51 becomes high, the surface of the coat layer 51 becomes less basic and its ability to trap SOx diminishes. However, even if its ability to trap SOx diminishes in this way, the SOx trapping ability is restored when the temperature of the SOx trap catalyst 12 rises when combustion is performed with a lean air-fuel ratio.

That is, when the temperature of the SOx trap catalyst rises, the SOx that is concentrated near the surface of the coat layer 51 diffuses inward in the coat layer 51 so that the SOx concentration in the coat layer 51 evens out. That is, the hydrosulfate produced in the coat layer 51 changes from an unstable state in which it is concentrated near the surface of the coat layer 51 to a stable state in which it is evenly dispersed throughout the entire coat layer 51. When the SOx near the surface of the coat layer 51 diffuses inward in the coat layer 51, the SOx concentration near the surface of the coat layer 51 drops so the SOx trapping ability is restored

In this way, the SOx trap catalyst 12 continues to trap SOx while repeating this process to restore the SOx trapping ability. However, as the SOx trap catalyst 12 becomes saturated with SOx (i.e., as the SOx trap catalyst 12 nears the point where it is no longer able to trap any more SOx), the ability of the SOx trap catalyst 12 to trap SOx no longer able to be restored. At this time, the temperature of the SOx trap catalyst 12 is raised to 600° C. or more and the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas flowing into the SOx trap catalyst 12 is made rich. As a result, trapped SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12, thereby restoring the ability of the SOx trap catalyst 12 to trap SOx.

FIG. 3A is a graph showing the relationship between i) the amount of SOx released per unit of time from the SOx trap catalyst 12, i.e., the SOx release rate W (g/sec), when the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas is a reference rich air-fuel ratio such as 135 and ii) the bed temperature TC of the SOx trap catalyst 12. FIG. 3B is a graph showing the relationship between the SOx release rate K from the SOx trap catalyst 12 and the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas. The amount (g/sec) of SOx that is released per unit of time from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is expressed by the product of the SOx release rate W and the SOx release rate K.

Therefore, the amount (g/sec) of SOx that is released per unit of time from the SOx trap catalyst 12 rapidly increases when the catalyst bed temperature TC reaches 600° C. or higher, as shown in FIG. 3A, and also increases when the air-fuel ratio of exhaust gas is reduced, i.e., when the degree of richness of the exhaust gas air-fuel ratio increases, as shown in FIG. 3B. Incidentally, the temperature of the SOx trap catalyst 12 is increased by, for example, retarding the fuel injection timing or injecting supplemental fuel during the exhaust stroke. Also, the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas that flows into the SOx trap catalyst 12 is made rich by supplying additional fuel during the exhaust stroke, for example.

Next, the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 will be described. The NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 adsorbs ammonia NH3. In FIG. 4A, reference character Qmax indicates the maximum amount of ammonia able to be adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 (hereinafter simply referred to as the “maximum adsorbable ammonia amount Qmax”). As is evident from the drawing, the maximum adsorbable ammonia amount Qmax decreases as the bed temperature TS of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 increases. The NOx in the exhaust gas is reduced by the ammonia NH3 that is adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 so it is necessary to make sure that a sufficient amount of ammonia NH3 is always adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16.

Therefore in the first example embodiment of the invention, an adsorbed ammonia amount Qt that is only slightly less than the maximum adsorbable ammonia amount Qmax is set beforehand as a reference adsorbed ammonia amount, as shown in FIG. 4A. The amount of aqueous urea that is supplied is controlled so that the adsorbed ammonia amount Q comes to match this reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt. For example, when the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is less than the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt, aqueous urea is supplied intermittently, and when the adsorbed ammonia amount Q exceeds the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt, the supply of aqueous urea is stopped, as shown in FIG. 4B.

In the first example embodiment of the invention, the amount Q adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 (i.e., the adsorbed ammonia amount Q) is calculated from the amount of aqueous urea supplied from the aqueous urea supply valve 17 and the amount of NOx discharged from the engine. That is, generally speaking, the amount of ammonia newly adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is proportional to the amount of aqueous urea supplied, and the amount of adsorbed ammonia that is consumed is proportional to the amount of NOx that is discharges Therefore, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is calculated from the amount of aqueous urea supplied and the amount of NOx discharged. Incidentally, the amount NOXA of NOx discharged per unit of time from the engine (hereinafter also simply referred to as the “discharged NOx amount NOXA”) is stored in the ROM 32 in advance in the form of a map shown in FIG. 4C as a function of the required torque TQ and the engine speed N.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a routine to control the supply of aqueous urea, i.e., an aqueous urea supply control routine, which is an interrupt processing routine executed at fixed intervals of time. Referring to FIG. 5, first in step 60, the amount NOXA of NOx discharged per unit of time from the engine is calculated from the map shown in FIG. 4C. Next in step 61, of the ammonia NH3 that is adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16, the amount ΔQ of ammonia NH3 consumed per unit of time by the NOx (hereinafter also simply referred to as the “consumed ammonia amount ΔQ”) is calculated based on the discharged NOx amount NOXA. Then in step 62, the consumed ammonia amount ΔQ is subtracted from the adsorbed ammonia amount Q.

Next in step 63, it is determined whether a command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is being output. Normally this command is not being output so the process proceeds on to step 64 where it is determined whether the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is less than the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt. If the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is less than the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt, i.e., Q<Qt, the process proceeds on to step 65 where aqueous urea continues to be intermittently supplied. Then in step 66, an ammonia amount Qd that is newly adsorbed is added to the adsorbed ammonia amount Q. If, on the other hand, it is determined in step 64 that the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is equal to or greater than the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt, i.e., Q≧Qt, the process proceeds on to step 67 where the supply of aqueous urea is stopped.

In this way, if a command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is not being output, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is maintained at the reference adsorbed ammonia amount Qt. If, on the other hand, a command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is being output, the process proceeds on to step 67 where the supply of aqueous urea is stopped.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a routine to release SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12. This routine is also an interrupt processing routine executed at fixed intervals of time. Referring to FIG. 6, first in step 70, the amount ΔSOX of SOx trapped per unit of time in the SOx trap catalyst 16 (hereinafter also simply referred to as the “trapped SOx amount ΔSOX”) is calculated. The fuel contains a fixed percentage of sulfur so in step 70 the trapped SOx amount ΔSOX per unit of time is calculated by multiplying the fuel injection quantity Qf per unit of time by a constant C. Then in step 71, an integrated value ΣSOX of the trapped SOx amount is calculated by adding ΣSOX to ΔSOX.

Next in step 72, it is determined whether the integrated value ΣSOX of the trapped SOx amount is more than an allowable value MAX at which the SOx trapping ability starts to decrease. If ΣSOX is equal to or less than MAX, i.e., ΣSOX≧MAX, then the process jumps ahead to step 74. If, on the other hand, ΣSOX is greater than MAX, i.e., ΣSOX>MAX, then the process proceeds on to step 73 where a SOx release flag indicating that SOx should be released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is set, after which the process proceeds on to step 74.

In step 74, it is determined whether a command to allow SOx to be released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is being output. If this command is not being output, this cycle of the routine ends. If, on the other hand, this command is being output, the process proceeds on to step 75 where a SOx release process is executed to release trapped SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12 by raising the temperature of the SOx trap catalyst 12 to 600° C. or more and making the air-fuel ratio of the exhaust gas that flows into the SOx trap catalyst 12 rich. Then in step 76, the SOx release flag is reset and in step 77, ΣSOX is cleared.

When SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12, this SOx reacts with the ammonia NH3 adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16, producing hydrogen sulfide H2S as a result. Generally speaking, the concentration of the hydrogen sulfide H2S produced at this time is proportional to the adsorbed ammonia amount Q, and proportional to the concentration of SOx in the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16, i.e., the concentration DS of the SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst 12. FIG. 17 shows a graph with equal concentration curves a, b, c, d, and e of hydrogen sulfide H2S in the exhaust gas that flows out from the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 and is discharged into the atmosphere. The concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S gradually increases from curve a toward curve e in FIG. 7.

When the concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S discharged into the atmosphere becomes high, a very irritating odor is produced. Therefore it is necessary to keep the discharged concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S at an allowable concentration or lower where the irritating odor is almost unnoticeable. The allowable concentration where the irritating odor is almost unnoticeable is indicated by the broken line DNO in the drawing. Thus in this example embodiment of the invention, the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is kept to the allowable concentration DNO or lower.

In this case, the discharge concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S will decrease even if the adsorbed ammonia amount Q adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is simply reduced or the SOx release concentration DS from the SOx trap catalyst 12, i.e., the amount of SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst 12, is simply reduced. Accordingly, in this example embodiment of the invention, when releasing SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is either reduced before SOx is released or, when SOx is released, the amount of SOx that is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is reduced so that the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S becomes less than the preset allowable concentration DNO when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12.

Next, various example embodiments will be described with reference to FIGS. 8 to 15. In a second example embodiment of the invention, an electronic control unit (ECU) 30 that functions as an estimating apparatus is provided which estimates whether the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S will become equal to or greater than the allowable concentration DNO when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12. If it is estimated that the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S will become equal to or greater than the allowable concentration DNO when SOx is released, the ECU 30 reduces the adsorbed ammonia amount Q adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 before SOx is released so that the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S will be less than the allowable concentration DNO when SOx is released.

Incidentally, in this case, when aqueous urea stops being supplied, the ammonia NH3 that is adsorbed is gradually consumed by the NOx in the exhaust gas so the adsorbed ammonia amount Q gradually decreases. Therefore, in this second example embodiment, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is reduced by stopping the supply of aqueous urea. Incidentally, in this case, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q can still be reduced even if the amount of aqueous urea supplied is simply reduced. Therefore, the amount of aqueous urea supplied can also just be reduced instead of being stopped entirely.

When the discharge concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO, the irritating odor becomes almost unnoticeable. Therefore in the second example embodiment, SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst when the discharge concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of a SOx release control routine that is executed in addition to the routines in FIGS. 5 and 6 to carry out this second example embodiment. This routine is also an interrupt processing routine executed at fixed intervals of time. Referring to FIG. 8, first it is determined in step 80 whether the SOx release flag is set. If the SOx release flag is not set, this cycle of the routine ends. If, on the other hand, the SOx release flag is set, then the process proceeds on to step 81 where the adsorbed ammonia amount Q calculated in the routine shown in FIG. 5 is read.

Next in step 82, the concentration DS of released SOx (hereinafter also simply referred to as the “released SOx concentration DS”) when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is estimated. That is, the amount of SOx released (g/sec) per unit of time when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is expressed by the product W×K of the SOx release rate W (g/sec) shown in FIG. 3A multiplied by the SOx release rate K shown in FIG. 3B. Therefore, the concentration DS of SOx released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 can be estimated by dividing the amount of released SOx (i.e., W×K) by the volumetric flow rate G (l/sec) of exhaust gas per unit of time (i.e., DS=(W×K)/G). Incidentally, the volumetric flow rate G of the exhaust gas is stored in the ROM 32 in advance as a function of the required torque TQ and the engine speed N.

Next in step 83, the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is estimated from the relationship shown in FIG. 7 based on the adsorbed ammonia amount Q read in step 81 and the released SOx concentration DS estimated in step 82. Then in step 84, it is estimated whether the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO shown in FIG. 7. If the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is equal to or greater than the allowable concentration DNO, i.e., DN≧DNO, then the process proceeds on to step 87.

In step 87 a command to allow the release of SOx is cancelled. That is, the command to allow the release of SOx is not output. Accordingly, as is shown in the routine for releasing SOx shown in FIG. 6, the SOx is not released at this time. Instead, the SOx release process is placed on standby. Next in step 88, a command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is output such that the supply of aqueous urea is stopped at this time, as is shown in the routine to control the supply of aqueous urea shown in FIG. 5. When the SOx release process is placed on standby and the supply of aqueous urea is stopped in this way, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q gradually decreases. As a result, the estimated value of the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S also gradually decreases.

If, on the other hand, it is determined in step 84 that the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO, i.e., DN<DNO, then the process proceeds on to step 85 where the command to allow the release of SOx is output. As a result, the process to release SOx is executed, as is shown in the routine in FIG. 6. At this time, the discharge concentration of hydrogen sulfide H2S drops below the allowable concentration DNO. Then in step 86, the command to stop supply aqueous urea is cancelled, and the supply of aqueous urea is now restarted. The supply of aqueous urea is preferably restarted after the amount of released SOx has dropped somewhat after the command to allow the release of SOx is output.

FIGS. 9 and 10 show a third example embodiment of the invention. Step 89 is the only step of the SOx release control routine shown in FIG. 9 for carrying out this third example embodiment that differs from the routine shown in FIG. 8. All of the other steps, i.e., steps 80 to 88, are the same as they are in the routine shown in FIG. 8. Therefore, only step 89 in the SOx release control routine shown in FIG. 9 will be described. Descriptions of the other steps, i.e., steps 80 to 88, will be omitted.

In this third example embodiment, the amount of NOx discharged from the engine is increased in order to rapidly reduce the adsorbed ammonia amount Q when the process to release SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is on standby. That is, in this third example embodiment, control to increase the amount of NOx that is discharged is performed in step 89 in FIG. 9.

The control to increase the amount of NOx that is discharged is performed by, for example, advancing the fuel injection timing of fuel from the fuel injection valves 3 or reducing the EGR efficiency. Also in this third example embodiment, when the amount of discharged NOx is increased, the NOx amount NOXA that is discharged per unit of time from the engine is stored in the ROM 32 in advance in the form of a map shown in FIG. 10B as a function of the required torque TQ and the engine speed N. When the control to increase the amount of NOx that is discharged is being performed, the NOx amount NOXA is calculated from the map shown in FIG. 10B in step 60 shown in FIG. 5.

When the SOx release process has been on standby for an extended period of time after the SOx release flag has been set, the SOx trap catalyst 12 may become saturated with SOx, such that SOx may flow out of the SOx trap catalyst 12 when the air-fuel ratio is lean. In this case, if the amount of NOx discharged is increased as in the third example embodiment, the adsorbed ammonia amount will rapidly decrease so the amount of time that the SOx release process is on standby can be reduced. As a result, it is possible to prevent SOx from flowing out of the SOx trap catalyst 12 when the air-fuel ratio is lean.

FIGS. 11 and 12 show a fourth example embodiment of the invention Steps 99 to 101 are the only steps of the SOx release control routine shown in FIG. 11 for carrying out this fourth example embodiment that differ from the routine shown in FIG. 8. All of the other steps, i.e., steps 80 to 88, are the same as they are in the routine shown in FIG. 8. Therefore, only steps 99 to 101 in the SOx release control routine shown in FIG. 11 will be described. Descriptions of the other steps, i.e., steps 80 to 88, will be omitted.

In this fourth example embodiment, the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is increased in order to rapidly reduce the adsorbed ammonia amount Q when the process to release SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is on standby. That is, in this fourth example embodiment, control to raise the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is performed in step 99 of FIG. 11. This control to raise the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is performed by, for example, retarding the fuel injection timing which raises the temperature of the exhaust gas with a lean air-fuel ratio.

FIGS. 12A and 12B both show desorption rates K1 and K2 of adsorbed ammonia NH3 from the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16. As shown in FIG. 12A, the desorption rate K1 of the adsorbed ammonia NH3 raises rapidly when the bed temperature TS of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 becomes high. Therefore, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q can be rapidly reduced by raising the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16. Also, as shown in FIG. 12B, the desorption rate K2 increases as the volumetric flow rate G of the exhaust gas increases.

The desorption amount of the adsorbed ammonia can be obtained by multiplying the desorption rates K1 and K2 by the adsorbed ammonia amount Q. Therefore, in the fourth example embodiment, the desorption rates K1 and K2 are calculated from FIGS. 12A and 12B in step 100 when the control to raise the temperature of the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is performed in step 99 as shown in FIG. 11. Then the desorption amount (K1×K2×Q) is subtracted from the adsorbed ammonia amount Q in step 101. Accordingly, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q gradually decreases.

FIGS. 13 and 14 show a fifth example embodiment of the invention. In this fifth example embodiment, the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO in order to release SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12 using a simple method. The allowable adsorption amount QX with respect to only the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is set irrespective of the released SOx concentration DS, as shown in FIG. 13.

That is, in the fifth example embodiment, when SOx is to be released from the SOx trap catalyst 12, the supply of aqueous urea is stopped before SOx is released when it is determined by the ECU 30 that the adsorbed ammonia amount Q that is adsorbed on the NOx selective reduction catalyst 16 is equal to or greater than the allowable adsorption amount QX which is set beforehand. In this case as well, the amount of aqueous urea supplied may also be reduced instead of completely stopping the supply of aqueous urea.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart illustrating a SOx release control routine that is executed in addition to the routines shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 in order to carry out the fifth example embodiment. This routine is also an interrupt processing routine executed at fixed intervals of time. Referring to FIG. 14, first in step 200, it is determined whether the SOx release flag is set. If the SOx release flag is not set, this cycle of the routine ends. If, however, the SOx release flag is set, the process proceeds on to step 201 where the adsorbed ammonia amount Q calculated in the routine shown in FIG. 5 is read.

Next in step 202, it is determined whether the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is less than the allowable adsorption amount QX. If the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is equal to or greater than the allowable adsorption amount QX, i.e., Q≧QX, then the process proceeds on to step 205 where a command to allow the release of SOx is canceled. That is, a command to allow SOx to be released is not output. Accordingly, the process to release SOx is not executed at this time, as is shown in the routine for releasing SOx in FIG. 6. Then in step 206, the command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is output so that the supply of aqueous urea is stopped at this time, as is shown in the routine to control the supply of aqueous urea shown in FIG. 5.

If, on the other hand, it is determined in step 202 that the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is less than the allowable adsorption amount QX, i.e., Q<QX, then the process proceeds on to step 203 where a command to allow the release of SOx is output. As a result, the process to release SOx is executed, as is shown in the routine in FIG. 6. Next in step 204, a command to atop supply of aqueous urea is cancelled so aqueous urea starts to be supplied again.

On the other hand, when the released SOx concentration DS when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is low, the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO or lower irrespective of the adsorbed ammonia amount Q, as shown in FIG. 7. Therefore, in a sixth example embodiment of the invention, when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12, the amount of SOx that is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is reduced so that the discharge concentration DN of the hydrogen sulfide H2S becomes less than the allowable concentration DNO.

That is, in the sixth example embodiment, as shown in FIG. 15, the allowable adsorption amount QX of the adsorbed ammonia amount Q at which the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than the allowable concentration DNO is set beforehand irrespective of the released SOx concentration DS when SOx is released, and the allowable concentration DX of the released NOx concentration SOx at which the discharge concentration DN of hydrogen sulfide H2S is less than allowable concentration DNO is set beforehand irrespective of the adsorbed ammonia amount Q when SOx is released. Then SOx release control is performed using the allowable absorption amount QX and the allowable concentration DX.

That is, in the region where Q is less than QX, i.e., Q<QX, in FIG. 15, DN is less than DNO, i.e., DN<DNO, regardless of the released SOx concentration DS. Therefore, in this sixth example embodiment, when Q is less than QX, the air-fuel ratio is made a target air-fuel ratio with a high degree of richness in order to release a large amount of SOx from the SOx trap catalyst 12. On the other hand, in the region where Q is equal to or greater than QX, i.e., Q≧QX, the degree of richness of the air-fuel ratio is reduced so that the released SOx concentration DS becomes equal to the allowable concentration DX. The air-fuel ratio at this time is calculated as follows.

That is, as described above, the amount of SOx released (g/sec) per unit of time when SOx is released from the SOx trap catalyst 12 is expressed by the product K×W of the SOx release rate W (g/sec) shown in FIG. 3A multiplied by the SOx release rate K shown in FIG. 3B. Accordingly, the released SOx concentration DS (=W×K/G) from the SOx trap catalyst 12 can be calculated by dividing that SOx release amount W×K by the volumetric flow rate G (l/sec) of the exhaust gas per unit of time. Therefore, to bring the released SOx concentration DS down to the allowable concentration DX, all that need be done is to make the SOx release rate K equal (DX×G/W), and the air-fuel ratio can be calculated using the relationship shown in FIG. 3B from this SOx release rate K

FIG. 16 is a flowchart illustrating a SOx release control routine that is executed in addition to the routines shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 for carrying out the sixth example embodiment. This routine is also an interrupt processing routine executed at fixed intervals of time. Referring to FIG. 16, first in step 210 it is determined whether the SOx release flag is set. If the SOx release flag is not set, this cycle of the routine ends. If, on the other hand, the SOx release flag is set, the process proceeds on to step 211 where the adsorbed ammonia amount Q calculated in the routine in FIG. 5 is read.

Next in step 212, it is determined whether the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is lower than the allowable adsorption amount QX. If the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is lower than the allowable adsorption amount QX, i.e., Q<QX, the process proceeds on to step 213 where the air-fuel ratio when the SOx is released is made the target air-fuel ratio with a high degree of richness, after which the process proceeds on to step 216. If, on the other hand, the adsorbed ammonia amount Q is equal to or greater than the allowable adsorption amount QX, i.e., Q≧QX, the process proceeds on to step 214 where the SOx release rate K (=KD×G/W) is calculated. Then in step 215 the air-fuel ratio when the SOx is released is calculated based on the relationship shown in FIG. 3B from this SOx release rate K, after which the process proceeds on to step 216.

In step 216, a command allowing the release of SOx is output. As a result, the process to release SOx is executed, as is shown in the routine in FIG. 6. Incidentally, in this sixth example embodiment, the command to stop the supply of aqueous urea is not output.