Title:
EXHAUST EMISSION CONTROL APPARATUS FOR INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exhaust emission control apparatus that is used with an internal combustion engine to use both a NOx retention member and a catalyst while avoiding a decrease in the exhaust gas purification capacity. A NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is placed in an exhaust path of an internal combustion engine. The NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst includes a base material. The base material includes an exhaust inflow cell, which is closed at its downstream side; and an exhaust outflow cell, which is closed at its upstream side and is adjacent to the first cell with the partition wall positioned in between. The exhaust inflow cell is configured so that a NOx retention layer is formed on the inner surface thereof, and the exhaust outflow cell is configured so that a catalyst layer is formed on the inner surface thereof, respectively.



Inventors:
Hirata, Hirohito (Shizuoka-ken, JP)
Ibe, Masaya (Shizuoka-ken, JP)
Osaki, Mayuko (Shizuoka-ken, JP)
Kamada, Masaya (Aichi-ken, JP)
Application Number:
12/521380
Publication Date:
12/16/2010
Filing Date:
12/20/2007
Assignee:
TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA (Toyota-shi, JP)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
60/297, 60/301, 60/304
International Classes:
F01N9/00; F01N3/035; F01N3/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ELNOUBI, ABDELRAHMAN SAID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, L.L.P. (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
1. An exhaust emission control apparatus for an internal combustion engine, comprising: a NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst, which is positioned in an exhaust path of the internal combustion engine; and ozone supply means, which supplies ozone so that the ozone mixes with an exhaust gas flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst; wherein the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst includes two or more cells, which are partitioned by a partition wall that permits the passage of the exhaust gas, the two or more cells including a first cell configured so that a downstream side of the first cell is covered and a NOx retention layer containing a NOx retention member is formed on an inner surface of the first cell; and a second cell configured so that the second cell is adjacent to the first cell with the partition wall positioned in between, an upstream side of the second cell is covered, a catalyst layer including a noble metal is formed on an inner surface of the second cell, and an amount of the NOx retention member contained in the catalyst layer is smaller than that in the NOx retention layer.

2. The exhaust emission control apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the partition wall, which permits the passage of the exhaust gas, is a particulate filter for capturing particulates contained in the exhaust gas.

3. The exhaust emission control apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the catalyst layer formed on the inner surface of the second cell is configured so that the amount of the NOx retention member contained in the catalyst layer is substantially zero.

4. The exhaust emission control apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: ozone supply amount adjustment means for adjusting the amount of ozone supply so that the mole ratio of ozone to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in a gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is greater than 1.

5. The exhaust emission control apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the ozone supply amount adjustment means adjusts the amount of ozone supply so that the mole ratio of ozone (O3) to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in the gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is not smaller than 2.

6. An exhaust emission control apparatus for an internal combustion engine, comprising: a NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst, which is positioned in an exhaust path of the internal combustion engine; and an ozone supply unit, which supplies ozone so that the ozone mixes with an exhaust gas flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst; wherein the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst includes two or more cells, which are partitioned by a partition wall that permits the passage of the exhaust gas, the two or more cells including a first cell configured so that a downstream side of the first cell is covered and a NOx retention layer containing a NOx retention member is formed on an inner surface of the first cell; and a second cell configured so that the second cell is adjacent to the first cell with the partition wall positioned in between, an upstream side of the second cell is covered, a catalyst layer including a noble metal is formed on an inner surface of the second cell, and an amount of the NOx retention member contained in the catalyst layer is smaller than that in the NOx retention layer.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

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

BACKGROUND ART

It is known that a conventional exhaust emission control apparatus disclosed, for instance, in JP-A-2002-89246 includes a NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst. In the above conventional art, an exhaust path of an internal combustion engine is provided with a catalyst and a substance capable of occluding NOx (hereinafter also referred to as the “NOx retention member”). Such a configuration is formed so that NOx in an exhaust gas is occluded by the NOx occlusion catalyst in a lean atmosphere, and that the occluded NOx is released, reduced, and decomposed in a rich atmosphere.

To ensure that the above reaction smoothly takes place, it is preferred that the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst reach its activation temperature and fully exercise its activation function. When an internal combustion engine starts up, however, the catalyst temperature is low. Thus, the conventional exhaust emission control apparatus addresses the above problem by adding ozone (O3) to the exhaust gas at internal combustion engine startup. Adding ozone to the exhaust gas oxidizes NOx in the exhaust gas to accelerate a NOx occlusion reaction. Consequently, even when the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is not fully active at the time, for instance, of internal combustion engine startup, the use of the above-described conventional technology makes it possible to accelerate NOx occlusion and purify the exhaust gas.

Patent Document 1: JP-A-2002-89246

Patent Document 2: JP-A-1993-192535

Patent Document 3: JP-A (PCT) No. 538295/2005

Patent Document 4: JP-A-1994-185343

Patent Document 5: JP-A-1998-169434

Patent Document 6: Japanese Patent No. 3551346

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Problem to be Solved by the Invention

Meanwhile, the above-described NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is formed so that a layer containing the catalyst and NOx retention member is coated onto a base material (which may also be referred to as a support). This type of catalyst tends to have a smaller exhaust gas purification capacity (a smaller capacity of purifying NOx, HC, and CO) than a conventional three-way catalyst without a NOx retention member. It means that the exhaust gas purification function of the above-described NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is blocked.

The present invention has been made to solve the above problem. An object of the present invention is to provide an exhaust emission control apparatus that is used with an internal combustion engine to use both a NOx retention member and a catalyst while avoiding a decrease in the exhaust gas purification capacity.

Means for Solving the Problem

To achieve the above-mentioned purpose, the first aspect of the present invention is an exhaust emission control apparatus for an internal combustion engine, comprising:

a NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst, which is positioned in an exhaust path of the internal combustion engine; and

ozone supply means, which supplies ozone so that the ozone mixes with an exhaust gas flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst; wherein

the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst includes two or more cells, which are partitioned by a partition wall that permits the passage of the exhaust gas,

the two or more cells including a first cell configured so that a downstream side of the first cell is covered and a NOx retention layer containing a NOx retention member is formed on an inner surface of the first cell; and a second cell configured so that the second cell is adjacent to the first cell with the partition wall positioned in between, an upstream side of the second cell is covered, a catalyst layer including a noble metal is formed on an inner surface of the second cell, and an amount of the NOx retention member contained in the catalyst layer is smaller than that in the NOx retention layer.

The second aspect of the present invention is the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first aspect, wherein the partition wall, which permits the passage of the exhaust gas, is a particulate filter for capturing particulates contained in the exhaust gas.

The third aspect of the present invention is the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first or the second aspect, wherein the catalyst layer formed on the inner surface of the second cell is configured so that the amount of the NOx retention member contained in the catalyst layer is substantially zero.

The fourth aspect of the present invention is the exhaust emission control apparatus according to any one of the first to third aspects, further comprising:

ozone supply amount adjustment means for adjusting the amount of ozone supply so that the mole ratio of ozone to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in a gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is greater than 1.

The fifth aspect of the present invention is the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the fourth aspect, wherein the ozone supply amount adjustment means adjusts the amount of ozone supply so that the mole ratio of ozone (O3) to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in the gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is not smaller than 2.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

The first aspect of the present invention is configured so that the first cell includes a NOx retention layer whereas the second cell includes a catalyst layer. Therefore, the catalyst can properly exercise its exhaust gas purification function. It is thought that the NOx retention member is a catalyst poison for a noble metal element and a factor of decreasing the exhaust gas purification capacity of the catalyst. According to the first aspect of the present invention, the NOx retention layer and the catalyst layer are provided in the first cell and in the second cell, respectively. Further, the ozone supply means accelerates a NOx occlusion reaction without resort to the catalyst layer. Therefore, the first aspect of the present invention makes it possible to occlude and reduce NOx while inhibiting the NOx retention member from acting as a catalyst poison to keep the catalyst's exhaust gas purification function intact.

The second aspect of the present invention enables the catalyst to properly exercise its exhaust gas purification function and allows the partition wall to capture particulates contained in the exhaust gas.

The third aspect of the present invention makes it possible to suppress the influence of the catalyst poison with higher effectiveness than in the first aspect.

According to the fourth aspect of the present invention, NO in the exhaust gas can be oxidized to generate NO3, N2O5, and other nitrogen oxides of higher order than NO2 (generate HNO3 as well if water exists). This makes it possible to increase the amounts of NO3, N2O5, and other nitrogen oxides of higher order than NO2, which are contained in the exhaust gas that flows into a NOx retention member. As a result, a NOx occlusion reaction can be accelerated to increase the exhaust gas purification capacity.

According to the fifth aspect of the present invention, a sufficient amount of ozone can be supplied as needed to generate NO3, N2O5, and other nitrogen oxides of higher order than NO2 (generate HNO3 as well if water exists) by oxidizing NO. As a result, the NOx occlusion reaction can be effectively accelerated to increase the exhaust gas purification capacity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating configuration of an exhaust emission control apparatus according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are diagrams illustrating configuration of the apparatus according to a first embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating a routine that the ECU 50 executes in the first embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a diagram to describe result of experiment for the first embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a diagram to describe result of experiment for the first embodiment.

FIGS. 6A and 6B are diagrams to describe result of experiment for the first embodiment.

FIGS. 7A to 7C are diagrams to describe result of experiment for the first embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a diagram to describe result of experiment for the first embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF NOTATIONS

  • 10 an internal combustion engine
  • 12 an exhaust path
  • 20 a catalytic device
  • 30 an ozone supply device
  • 32 an ozone injection orifice
  • 34 an air inlet
  • 50 ECU
  • 80 a NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst
  • 82 a base material
  • 86 a partition wall section
  • 90 an exhaust inflow cell
  • 92 a NOx retention layer
  • 94 a catalyst layer
  • 96 an exhaust outflow cell

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

First Embodiment

Configuration of First Embodiment

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an exhaust emission control apparatus according to a first embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1, the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first embodiment includes a catalytic device 20, which is placed in an exhaust path 12 of an internal combustion engine 10. A NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 is placed in the catalytic device 20. As far as the exhaust emission control apparatus is configured as described above, an exhaust gas passing through the exhaust path 12 flows into the catalytic device 20 and then into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are cross-sectional views illustrating the configuration of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80. The cross-sectional views of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 are taken along the direction of exhaust gas distribution. The left-hand side of FIG. 2 corresponds to the upstream side into which the exhaust gas flows, whereas the right-hand side of FIG. 2 corresponds to the downstream side from which the exhaust gas that is purified during its passage through the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 flows.

FIG. 2A schematically shows the overall configuration of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80. The NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 is formed by coating a base material 82 shown in FIG. 2A with a NOx retention layer and a catalyst layer, which will be described later. The base material 82 is a honeycombed ceramic base material. The interior of the base material 82 is partitioned by a partition wall to form a plurality of cells.

As shown in FIG. 2A, the base material 82 includes an exhaust inflow cell 90, which is open at its upstream side (the left-hand side of the figure) and closed at its downstream side (the right-hand side of the figure); and an exhaust outflow cell 96, which is closed at its upstream side and open at its downstream side. These cells are extended in the direction of exhaust gas flow (in the left-right direction in FIG. 2A).

FIG. 2B is an enlarged partial view of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80. It illustrates the configuration of cells included in the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80. As described above, the exhaust inflow cell 90 is configured so that its upstream side is open to permit the inflow of the exhaust gas. The downstream side of the exhaust inflow cell 90 is closed to block the flow of the exhaust gas.

The inner surface of the exhaust inflow cell 90 is provided with a NOx retention layer 92. The NOx retention layer 92 is formed by coating the inner surface of the exhaust inflow cell 90 with a NOx retention material containing BaCO3. BaCO3 functions as a NOx retention member (which may also be referred to as a NOx occlusion agent) that occludes NOx in the exhaust gas as nitrate (or more specifically, Ba(NO3)2). The occluded Ba(NO3)2 is actively released when mainly the exhaust gas is rich or when the NOx retention member temperature is high. Further, the NOx retention layer 92 is gas permeable to permit the passage of the exhaust gas.

The exhaust outflow cell 96, on the other hand, is configured so that its downstream side is open while its upstream side is closed. This ensures that the gas existing in the exhaust outflow cell 96 flows downstream and out of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80.

The inner surface of the exhaust outflow cell 96 is provided with a catalyst layer 94. The catalyst layer 94 is formed by coating the inner surface of the exhaust outflow cell 96 with a catalytic material containing Pt or other noble metal. Pt or other noble metal functions as an active site that simultaneously activates the oxidation reaction of CO and HC and the reduction reaction of NOx. Thus, the catalyst layer 94 functions as a three-way catalyst that simultaneously purifies NOx, CO, and HC. Further, the catalyst layer 94 is gas permeable to permit the passage of the exhaust gas.

As shown in FIG. 2B, the exhaust inflow cell 90 is adjacent to the exhaust outflow cell 96 with a partition wall section 86 of the base material 82 positioned in between. The partition wall section 86, which is gas permeable to permit the passage of the exhaust gas, functions as a filter that captures various particulates (which may be abbreviated to PM) contained in the exhaust gas when the exhaust gas passes through the partition wall section 86.

When the above-described configuration is employed, the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 first flows into the exhaust inflow cell 90, then sequentially passes through the NOx retention layer 92, partition wall section 86, and catalyst layer 94, reaches the exhaust outflow cell 94, and flows downstream out of the exhaust outflow cell 94 (note the arrows in FIG. 2B). This ensures that the exhaust gas passing through the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 is purified as needed by means of NOx occlusion, particulate removal, and three-way activation during its distribution process.

The base material 82, which is honeycombed, is configured so as to alternately close the upstream side opening and downstream side opening of individual cells. This base material is similar to a diesel particulate filter (DPF or simply referred to as the “particulate filter”), which has been conventionally used to capture particulates in the exhaust gas. Therefore, the above-mentioned DPF, which is publicly known, can be used as needed as the base material 82 for the first embodiment.

As shown in FIG. 1, the apparatus according to the first embodiment also includes an ozone supply device 30. The ozone supply device 30 is in communication with an air inlet 34. The ozone supply device 30 can acquire air from the air inlet 34, generate ozone (O3), and supply the ozone downstream. The configuration, function, and other characteristics of an ozone generator, which generates ozone from air, will not be described in detail because a variety of related technologies are publicly known.

The ozone supply device 30 has an ozone injection orifice 32, which injects a gas within the catalytic device 20. The ozone injection orifice 32 is positioned upstream of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 in the catalytic device 20. When this configuration is employed to inject ozone from the ozone injection orifice 32, the ozone or air can be added to the exhaust gas passing through the exhaust path 12. The added ozone or air then mixes with the exhaust gas so that the resulting gas mixture flows into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80.

The exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first embodiment includes an ECU (Electronic Control Unit) 50. The ECU 50 is connected to the ozone supply device 30. The ECU 50 transmits a control signal to the ozone supply device 30 for the purpose of controlling the timing and amount of ozone injection. The use of the above-described configuration makes it possible to supply ozone at desired timing.

To efficiently induce a NOx occlusion reaction where the NOx retention layer 92 occludes NOx in the exhaust gas, it is preferred that NOx in the exhaust gas is oxidized to a great extent. In the first embodiment, the ozone supply device 30 can add ozone to the exhaust gas as needed. This makes it possible to effectively purify the exhaust gas by oxidizing NOx in the exhaust gas during a gas phase reaction.

The ECU 50 is also connected, for instance, to various sensors, which are provided for the internal combustion engine 10. Therefore, the ECU 50 can acquire information, for instance, about the temperature, engine speed Ne, air-fuel ratio A/F, load, and intake air amount of the internal combustion engine 10.

Features of First Embodiment

Features of Configuration

As described above, the NOx retention member (BaCO3 in the first embodiment) contained in the NOx retention member is capable of occluding NOx in the exhaust gas. The noble metal contained in the catalyst (Pt, Rh, Pd, etc. in the first embodiment) functions as an active site during exhaust gas purification. To achieve NOx occlusion reduction and exhaust gas purification with high efficiency, it is important that the above functions be exercised effectively in a coordinated manner.

Various conventional catalysts formed by integrating the abovementioned NOx retention member and catalyst are known. These catalysts are disclosed, for instance, in Japanese Patent No. 3551346 and also referred to as a “NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst” or “NSR catalyst.” The NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst can accelerate the NOx occlusion reaction by promoting the oxidation of NOx. Further, when NOx is to be released, the catalyst can purify the exhaust gas.

However, if the NOx retention member is combined with the catalyst as described above, the exhaust gas purification capacity of the catalyst (the capacity for purifying NOx, HC, and CO) becomes smaller than that of a conventional three-way catalyst that does not include a NOx retention member. The reason would be that the NOx retention member acts as a catalyst poison for the catalyst (noble metal element) and impairs the catalyst's activation function. To achieve exhaust gas purification with high efficiency, it is preferred that such an adverse effect be avoided to fully exercise the catalyst's function.

In view of the above circumstances, the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first embodiment configures the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 by providing the exhaust inflow cell 90 with the NOx retention layer 92 and the exhaust outflow cell 96 with the catalyst layer 94, thereby making the NOx retention layer 92 and catalyst layer 94 independent of each other. As mentioned earlier, the catalyst's exhaust gas purification capacity decreases when the NOx retention member acts as a catalyst poison. The first embodiment prevents the NOx retention member from acting as a catalyst poison for the catalyst layer 94 because the NOx retention layer 92 and catalyst layer 94 are made independent of each other with the partition wall section 86 positioned in between. The following describes operations that are performed for NOx occlusion and NOx release when the configuration according to the first embodiment is employed.

(Operation Performed for Nox Occlusion)

As described above, the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 according to the first embodiment is configured so that the catalyst layer 94 is formed on the inner surface of the exhaust outflow cell 96. The catalyst layer 94 includes Pt or other noble metal and can simultaneously purify NOx, CO, and HC (this function may be hereinafter referred to as the “exhaust gas purification function”). However, to enable the catalyst to exercise its exhaust gas purification function, it is necessary that the catalyst be heated to an adequate activation temperature. Therefore, when the internal combustion engine 12 starts up, particularly at a cold temperature, it is difficult to purify NOx contained in the exhaust gas because the temperature of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 is low.

In the above situation, therefore, the present embodiment causes the NOx retention layer 92 to occlude NOx. Further, to accelerate such a NOx occlusion, the present embodiment uses the ozone supply device 30 to supply ozone so that the ozone mixes with the exhaust gas flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80. When ozone is added to the exhaust gas in the above manner, NOx in the exhaust gas is oxidized to facilitate NOx occlusion.

The NOx oxidized by ozone flows into the exhaust inflow cell 90 and reaches the NOx retention layer 92. An occlusion reaction then occurs in the NOx retention layer 92 so that NOx is occluded as nitrate. As the above-described operation is performed, it is possible to prevent the NOx in the exhaust gas from flowing downstream of the catalytic device 20 even in a situation where the catalyst layer 94 has not reached its activation temperature at startup of the internal combustion engine 12.

(Operation Performed for Nox Release)

As the aforementioned NOx occlusion takes place after startup of the internal combustion engine 12, the temperature of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 rises. Therefore, when an adequate period of time elapses after startup of the internal combustion engine 12, the temperature of the catalyst layer 94 in the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 reaches an activation temperature. Consequently, when the catalyst layer 94 reaches its activation temperature and is ready to fully exercise its exhaust gas purification function, the first embodiment shuts off the supply of ozone and exercises control to slightly enrich the fuel injection amount of the internal combustion engine 12.

When the supply of ozone shuts off, the NOx occlusion reaction stops being accelerated. Further, when the temperature of the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 is high, the temperature of the NOx retention layer 92 is also high. As the temperature rises and the atmosphere becomes enriched, the NOx retention layer 92 actively releases the occluded NOx. Therefore, the NOx release reaction actively occurs due to the above-described control.

When NOx is released from the NOx retention layer 92, the released NOx passes through the partition wall section 86 and reaches the catalyst layer 94. The NOx in the catalyst layer 94 is then reduced to N2, H2O, CO2, etc. by HC and other reductants contained in the exhaust gas. As described earlier, the present embodiment is configured so that the NOx retention layer 92 and catalyst layer 94 are formed independently of each other. This configuration prevents the NOx retention member from acting as a catalyst poison for the catalyst layer 94. Consequently, the present embodiment makes it possible to purify the exhaust gas effectively without blocking the exhaust gas purification function of the catalyst layer 94.

As described above, the present embodiment certainly prevents the NOx retention member from acting as a catalyst poison because the NOx retention layer 92 and catalyst layer 94 are formed independently of each other with the partition wall section 86 positioned in between. This makes it possible to unfailingly prevent the exhaust gas purification capability of the catalyst layer 94 from being hindered. Further, the present embodiment causes the ozone supply device 30 to supply ozone and accelerates the NOx occlusion reaction without resort to the catalyst. Therefore, NOx can be occluded and reduced while fully exercising the exhaust gas purification function of the catalyst.

In addition, when a NOx oxidation method based on ozone is used, NOx can be oxidized with increased certainty during a gas phase reaction without resort to the catalyst even when the temperature is low at the time, for instance, of internal combustion engine startup. Moreover, when water vapor exists, nitric acid arises and easily reacts with the NOx retention member. This makes it possible to occlude NOx with high efficiency.

Details of Process Performed by First Embodiment

A process performed by the exhaust emission control apparatus according to the first embodiment will now be described in detail with reference to FIG. 3. FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating a routine that the ECU 50 executes in the first embodiment. The routine is executed when the internal combustion engine 10 starts at a low temperature (e.g., at a cold start).

First of all, the routine shown in FIG. 3 performs step S100 to supply ozone. More specifically, the ECU 50 transmits a control signal to the ozone supply device 30 so that ozone is supplied at a predetermined flow rate. Ozone injection then occurs in accordance with the control signal. As a result, NO in the exhaust gas is oxidized to NO3 so that an occlusion reaction occurs efficiently within the NOx retention layer 92.

Next, the routine performs step S110 to judge whether an O3 supply shutoff condition is established. More specifically, step S110 is performed to judge whether a certain period of time, which is required for the catalyst layer 94 to reach its activation temperature has elapsed. The certain priod can be predetermined on the basis of, for instance, an experiment. If the obtained judgment result does not indicate that the O3 supply shutoff condition is established, the routine concludes that the catalyst layer 94 has not reached its activation temperature, and repeats steps S100 and beyond.

If, on the other hand, the obtained judgment result indicates that the O3 supply shutoff condition is established, the routine proceeds to step S130, shuts off the supply of O3, and controls the operating status of the internal combustion engine 10 so that the air-fuel ratio changes from stoichiometric to slightly rich. As a result, the NOx occluded in the NOx retention layer 92 is released. The released NOx then passes through the partition wall section 86, reaches the catalyst layer 94, and becomes reduced and purified. Subsequently, the routine comes to an end.

When the above process is performed, it is possible to unfailingly prevent the NOx retention member from acting as a catalyst poison and achieve NOx occlusion and reduction while fully exercising the exhaust gas purification function of the catalyst layer 94. Further, when a NOx oxidation method based on ozone is used, NOx can be surely oxidized without resort to the catalyst even when the temperature is low at the time, for instance, of internal combustion engine startup. This makes it possible to obtain excellent emission characteristics.

As described earlier, the partition wall section 86 according to the first embodiment is made of a material that is capable of capturing particulates contained in the exhaust gas. Therefore, the particulates can be captured when the exhaust gas passes through the partition wall section 86. Trace amounts of particulates may be generated not only from a diesel engine but also from a gasoline engine. It is therefore important that particulates be effectively removed no matter what type of internal combustion engine is used. The present embodiment can not only achieve NOx occlusion and reduction and exhaust gas purification, but also effectively dispose of generated particulates.

Further, the first embodiment is configured so that the exhaust inflow cell 90 is opened in alignment with one surface of the base material 82 (the left-hand side surface of FIG. 2) whereas the exhaust outflow cell 96 is opened in alignment with the other surface of the base material 82 (the right-hand side surface of FIG. 2). As far as the above configuration is employed, it is easy to provide the exhaust inflow cell 90 with the NOx retention layer 92 and the exhaust outflow cell 96 with the catalyst layer 94. Therefore, the configuration according to the first embodiment is excellent in that it makes it possible to form the NOx retention layer 92 and catalyst layer 94 in isolation from each other and makes it easy to form them on an individual basis.

In the first embodiment, which has been described above, the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 corresponds to the “NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst” according to the first aspect of the present invention; and the ozone supply device 30 corresponds to the “ozone supply means” according to the first aspect. Further, in the first embodiment, which has been described above, the partition wall section 86 of the base material 82 corresponds to the “partition wall” according to the first aspect of the present invention; the exhaust inflow cell 90 corresponds to the “first cell” according to the first aspect; the exhaust outflow cell 96 corresponds to the “second cell” according to the first aspect; the NOx retention layer 92 corresponds to the “NOx retention layer” according to the first aspect; and the catalyst layer 94 corresponds to the “catalyst layer” according to the first aspect.

Furthermore, in the first embodiment, which has been described above, the partition wall section 86 corresponds to the “particulate filter” according to the second aspect of the present invention.

Results of Experiment for First Embodiment

Results of experiment for the first embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 4 to 7.

(Configuration of Measurement System)

FIG. 4 shows a measurement system that was used for the experiment. The measurement system includes a model gas generator 230 and a plurality of gas cylinders 232 in order to generate a model gas, which represents the exhaust gas of an internal combustion engine. The model gas generator 230 can mix the gases in the gas cylinders 232 to create the following simulant gas:

Simulant gas composition

C3H6 1000 ppm

CO 7000 ppm

NO 1500 ppm

O2 7000 ppm

CO2 10%

H203%

Remainder N2

The model gas generator 230 is in communication with an electric furnace in which a test piece 222 is placed. FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the test piece 222 and its vicinity. As shown in FIG. 5, the test piece 222 is configured so that an embodiment sample 224 is housed in a quartz tube. The experiment involves the use of a comparative example for which the same experiment is to be conducted as with the embodiment sample 224 with a later-described comparative sample substituted for the embodiment sample 224.

The measurement system shown in FIG. 4 includes an oxygen cylinder 240. The downstream end of the oxygen cylinder 240 is in communication with flow rate control units 242, 244. The flow rate control unit 242 is in communication with the ozone generator 246. The ozone generator 246 receives oxygen, which is supplied from the oxygen cylinder 240, and generates ozone. The ozone generator 246 communicates with the downstream end of the model gas generator 230 and the upstream end of the test piece 222 through an ozone analyzer 248 and a flow rate control unit 250.

Meanwhile, the downstream end of the flow rate control unit 244 directly communicates with the ozone analyzer. In a situation where the above-described configuration is employed, turning ON the ozone generator 246 supplies a gas mixture of O3 and O2 to the upstream end of the test piece 222 whereas turning OFF the ozone generator 246 supplies only O2 to the upstream end of the test piece 222.

When the flow rate control units 242, 244 and the ozone generator 246 are used as appropriate, the measurement system shown in FIG. 4 makes it possible to create the following two types of gases, which differ in composition. Each of these gases is to be injected into the test piece 222 and will be hereinafter simply referred to as an “injection gas.”

Injection gas composition
(1) O3, 30,000 ppm; remainder, O2
(2) O2 only

The flow rate control unit 250 can supply the injection gas at a desired flow rate.

Exhaust gas analyzers 260, 262 and an ozone analyzer 264 are positioned downstream of the test piece 222. These analyzers can measure gas components that flow out of the test piece 222.

The following measuring instruments were used during the experiment:

Ozone generator 246; Iwasaki Electric, OP100W
Ozone analyzer 248 (upstream); Ebara Jitsugyo, EG600
Ozone analyzer 264 (downstream); Ebara Jitsugyo, EG2001B
Exhaust gas analyzers 260, 262; Horiba, MEXA9100D (HC/CO/NOx measurement); Horiba, VAI-510 (CO2 measurement)

(Sample Preparation Method)

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate an embodiment sample and a comparative sample that were used during the experiment. FIG. 6A shows the embodiment sample 224, which is also shown in FIG. 5. The embodiment sample 224 has the same configuration as the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 according to the first embodiment. FIG. 6B shows a comparative sample 324. The comparative sample 324 uses the same honeycombed base material as the embodiment sample 224, but is coated in a manner different from that for the embodiment sample 224.

The embodiment sample 224 shown in FIG. 6A was prepared by performing the procedure described below. First of all, γ-Al2O3 was dispersed in ion exchange water. An aqueous solution of barium acetate was then added. The resulting mixture was heated to remove water from it, dried at 120° C., and pulverized to powder. The powder was then burned for two hours at 500° C. The burnt powder was immersed in a solution containing ammonium hydrogen carbonate, and then dried at 250° C. to obtain barium that was supported on Al2O3 (hereinafter also referred to as the “barium-supported catalyst”). The support quantity of barium was 0.2 mole per 120 g of γ-Al2O3.

Next, γ-Al2O3 was dispersed in ion exchange water. An aqueous solution containing dinitro-diamine platinum was then added to support Pt. The resulting mixture was dried, pulverized, and burned for one hour at 450° C. to obtain platinum that was supported on Al2O3 (hereinafter also referred to as the “platinum-supported catalyst”). The support quantity of platinum was 4 g per 120 g of γ-Al2O3.

Next, a 30 mm diameter, 50 mm long, 12 mil/300 cpsi cordierite DPF (hereinafter also referred to as the base material 282) was prepared. As described earlier, the DPF has the same configuration as the base material 82 according to the first embodiment. In the experiment, therefore, the DPF was used as the base material 282. One surface of the base material 282 (the left-hand side surface of FIG. 6A) was coated with the barium-supported catalyst and burned for one hour at 450° C. to obtain a NOx retention layer. The coating amount was such that Al2O3 was coated at a rate of approximately 60 g/L.

Next, the other surface of the base material 282 (the right-hand side surface of FIG. 6A), which was coated as described above, was coated with the platinum-supported catalyst. The coated base material 282 was burned for one hour at 450° C. to obtain a catalyst layer. The coating amount was such that Al2O3 was coated at a rate of 60 g/L. As a result of the above process, the embodiment sample 224, which corresponds to the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 according to the first embodiment, was obtained.

Consequently, the obtained embodiment sample 224 was such that the overall Pt support quantity was 2 g, and that the Ba support quantity was 0.1 mole/Al2O3 120 g, and further that the coating amount was 120 g/L (Al2O3).

Meanwhile, the comparative sample 324, which is shown in FIG. 6B, was prepared by performing the procedure described below. First of all, γ-Al2O3 was dispersed in ion exchange water. An aqueous solution of barium acetate was then added. The resulting mixture was heated to remove water from it, dried at 120° C., and pulverized to powder. The powder was then burned for two hours at 500° C. The burnt powder was immersed in a solution containing ammonium hydrogen carbonate, and then dried at 250° C. to obtain the barium-supported catalyst.

The obtained barium-supported catalyst was dispersed in ion exchange water. An aqueous solution containing dinitro-diammine platinum was then added to support Pt. The resulting mixture was dried, pulverized, and burned for one hour at 450° C. In this manner, a comparative coating catalyst was obtained. The obtained catalyst was such that the barium support quantity was 0.1 mole per 120 g of γ-Al2O3, and that the platinum support quantity was 2 g per 120 g of γ-Al2O3.

Next, both surfaces of a base material 382 (the left- and right-hand surfaces of FIG. 6B), which has the same structure as the base material 282, were coated with the comparative coating catalyst, which was prepared as described above, and burned for one hour at 450° C. One surface was coated so that Al2O3 was coated at a rate of 60 g/L. The overall coating amount, including both surfaces, was such that Al2O3 was coated at a rate of 120 g/L.

Consequently, the prepared comparative sample 324 is similar to the embodiment sample 224 in that the overall Pt support quantity was 2 g, and that the Ba support quantity was 0.1 mole/Al2O3 120 g, and further that the coating amount was 120 g/L (Al2O3). As described above, the embodiment sample 224 and comparative sample 324 were configured so that they contained the same amounts of Pt and Ba.

(Description of Experiment)

In the measurement system described above, the aforementioned simulant gas and injection gas were combined and supplied to the test piece 222 under the following conditions. The electric furnace was controlled so that the catalyst temperature rose at the following rate. The amounts of components of the gas flowing downstream were then determined.

Temperature: 30° C. to 500° C.

Temperature rise rate: 10° C./min (constant)
Simulant gas flow rate: 30 L/min
Injection gas flow rate: 6 L/min

The injection gas was supplied when the temperature was between 30° C. and 300° C. When the temperature was between 300° C. and 500° C., only the simulant gas was distributed without supplying the injection gas.

(Purification Efficiency Calculation Method)

FIGS. 7A to 7C are images illustrating how the exhaust gas purification efficiency was calculated in the experiment. FIG. 7A is an image illustrating the amount of a component of the supplied exhaust gas, which was determined by multiplying the simulant gas concentration by the test time. In accordance with the image, the amount of a component of the exhaust gas supplied within the measurement time was calculated in the experiment by multiplying the product of the concentration of the component in the simulant gas and a simulant gas flow rate by the test time.

FIG. 7B is an image illustrating the amount of a component of the exhaust gas flowing downstream, which was determined by multiplying the concentration of the gas flowing downstream of the test piece 222 by the test time. In accordance with the image, the amount of the component flowing downstream was calculated by multiplying the product of a component concentration, which was detected by an exhaust gas analyzer, and a gas flow rate by the test time.

The above calculated values were then used to determine the exhaust gas purification efficiency as shown in FIG. 7C. More specifically, the amount of a component flowing downstream (FIG. 7B) was subtracted from the amount of gas supplied within the measurement time (FIG. 7A). Further, the obtained value was divided by the amount of gas supplied within the measurement time (FIG. 7A) to calculate the exhaust gas purification efficiency as a percentage.

(Results of Experiment)

FIG. 8 is a graph illustrating a first portion of the results of the experiment. The graph in FIG. 8 indicates that the use of the embodiment sample 224 exhibited higher purification efficiencies for NOx, HC, and CO than the use of the comparative sample 324.

The results of experiment, which have been described above, indicate that the first embodiment induces a NOx occlusion reaction while averting the influence of a catalyst poison. It means that the catalyst fully exercises its exhaust gas purification function to obtain excellent emission characteristics. Further, as mentioned above, the embodiment sample 224 contains the same amounts of barium and platinum as the comparative sample 324. In other words, the first embodiment makes it possible to use the NOx retention member and noble metal with high efficiency.

Modifications of First Embodiment

First Modification

The first embodiment coats the base material 82 with the NOx retention layer 92 that contains BaCO3. However, the material for the NOx retention layer is not limited to the one described above. For instance, an alkali metal, such as Na, K, Cs, or Rb, an alkali earth metal, such as Ba, Ca, or Sr, or a rare earth element, such as Y, Ce, La, or Pr can be used as needed, as described in Japanese Patent No. 3551346.

Therefore, when the NOx retention member occludes NOx as nitrate, the composition of the nitrate is not limited to Ba(NO3)2, which is mentioned in connection with the first embodiment. It should be noted that Ba has a large occlusion capacity (1 mole of Ba can occlude 3 moles of NO3), exhibits higher thermal stability than the other materials, and is suitable as a NOx retention member for use with an exhaust emission control apparatus.

The material for the catalyst layer 94 is not limited to Pt, Rh, Pb, or other materials described earlier. Various catalyst materials known as noble metal materials constituting an exhaust gas purification catalyst may be applied to the present invention. Further, ceramic, alumina (Al2O3), and other appropriate materials may be used as a support material for a noble metal or NOx retention member.

Second Modification

The first embodiment uses the ozone supply device 30 to add ozone to the exhaust gas. Preferably, however, such an ozone addition may be made in the manner described below. It is known that NOx in the exhaust gas oxidizes due to a gas phase reaction when ozone (O3) is added to the exhaust gas. More specifically, the NOx reacts with the ozone to induce the following reactions:


NO+O3−>NO2+O2 [1]


NO2+O3−>NO3+O2 [2]


NO2+NO3−>N2O5 [3]


(NO2+NO3<−N2O5)

In the subsequent explanation, reaction formula [1] may be referred to as the “first formula;” reaction formula [2], the “second formula;” and reaction formula [3], the “third formula.”In the third formula, only the arrow indicating a rightward reaction is included; however, the parenthesized leftward reaction may also occur.

NOx occlusion in the NOx retention member is achieved when a high-order nitrogen oxide, which is generated when NOx is oxidized, or HNO3, which is generated when such a nitrogen oxide reacts with water, is occluded as Ba(NO3)2 or other nitrate by the NOx retention member. When, for instance, NO3 changes to Ba(NO3)2 or other nitrate, it is occluded by the NOx occlusion member. To induce a NOx occlusion reaction with high efficiency, therefore, it is preferred that an increased amount of NOx in the exhaust gas change to NO3, N2O5, and other nitrogen oxides of higher order than NO2.

In view of the above circumstances, the second modification induces the reactions indicated by the second and third formulae by adding ozone in such a manner that the mole ratio of ozone to NO in the gas mixture is greater than 1. More specifically, ozone addition is made so that the following relational expression is met by the ratio between Mol(O3), which is a mole equivalent of the amount of ozone in the gas mixture, and Mol(NO), which is a mole equivalent of the amount of nitrogen monoxide in the gas mixture:


Mol(O3)/Mol(NO)>1 [4]

In the subsequent explanation, formula [4] above may be referred to as the “fourth formula.”

When the mole ratio of ozone to NO in the gas mixture is not greater than 1 (Mol(O3)/Mol(NO)≦1), NO3 and N2O5 will not be generated due to the reactions indicated in the second and third formulae although NO2 is generated due to the reaction indicated in the first formula. As such being the case, the second modification is configured so that the substance quantity of ozone to be added is greater than the substance quantity of NO in the exhaust gas. Therefore, an adequate amount of ozone can be supplied to generate NO2 and N2O5 by oxidizing NO (to induce the reactions indicated in the second and third formulae). As a result, the amounts of high-order nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gas can be certainly increased to achieve NOx occlusion effectively.

The process described above is implemented when the ECU 50 performs a “process for adjusting an ozone supply amount so that the mole ratio of ozone to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in the gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is greater than 1” (ozone supply amount adjustment processing). This process can be performed, for instance, before step S100 of the routine shown in FIG. 3. The ozone supply amount for providing the above mole ratio can be defined, for instance, by allowing the ECU 50 to estimate the molar quantity of NOx contained in the exhaust gas in accordance with the operating status (engine speed Ne, air-fuel ratio A/F, load, intake air amount, etc.) of the internal combustion engine 10 and calculate the flow rate of ozone to be supplied in accordance with the estimated molar quantity of NOx.

Third Modification

Alternatively, the ozone supply amount may be further increased so that the mole ratio of ozone to nitrogen monoxide in the gas mixture is not smaller than 2 (Mol(O3)/Mol(NO)≧2). When the mole ratio of ozone (O3) to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in the gas mixture is greater than 1, the ozone still remains in the gas mixture even after NO is oxidized to NO2 as indicated in the first formula. Therefore, the reactions indicated in the second and third formulae occur to generate NO3 and N2O5. However, if a trace amount of ozone remains after the reaction indicated in the first formula, the amounts of NO3 and N2O5 to be generated during the reactions indicated in the second and third formulae are decreased.

In view of the above circumstances, the third modification adjusts the ozone supply amount so that the mole ratio between ozone and NO in the gas mixture is not smaller than 2 (Mol(O3)/Mol(NO)≧2). This ensures that an adequate amount of ozone remains after the reaction indicated in the first formula and contributes to the reactions indicated in the second and third formulae, thereby certainly increasing the amounts of high-order nitrogen oxides. As described above, the third modification makes it possible to supply an adequate amount of ozone for generating NO3 and N2O5 by oxidizing NO and effectively accelerate the NOx occlusion reaction.

The process described above is implemented when the ECU 50 performs a “process for adjusting the ozone supply amount so that the mole ratio of ozone (O3) to nitrogen monoxide (NO) in the gas mixture flowing into the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst is not smaller than 2.” This process can be performed, for instance, before step S100 of the routine shown in FIG. 3.

Fourth Modification

The first embodiment is configured so as to supply ozone with the ozone supply device 30 installed outside the catalytic device 20 and the ozone injection orifice 32 positioned inside the catalytic device 20. However, the present invention is not limited to the use of such a configuration. Ozone may be added to the exhaust gas by using various publicly known ozone generation devices methods. For example, a configuration for generating ozone directly by plasma discharge may be formed within the exhaust path 12 or catalytic device 20.

As mentioned earlier, the base material for use with the present invention may be substituted by a DPF or made of various publicly known materials that have been used for a DPF. It means that the structures and materials applicable to the base material for the present invention include the structures and materials of a conventionally used DPF.

However, it can also be said that the base material for the present invention is not limited to a DPF, and that the structure and material of the base material 82 are not limited to those of the DPF. More specifically, the present invention may employ a base material that is configured to include the exhaust inflow cell and exhaust outflow cell, which are adjacent to each other with the partition wall positioned in between, while the partition wall is made of a material that permits the passage of the exhaust gas. The NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst for the present invention may be configured so that the NOx retention layer is formed on the inner surface of the exhaust inflow cell with the catalyst layer formed on the inner surface of the exhaust outflow cell.

In the first embodiment, therefore, the partition wall section 86 corresponds to a particulate filter that captures particulates. However, the “partition wall” for the present invention is not limited to such a particulate filter. In other words, the use of a particulate filter is not always essential as far as the employed partition wall is gas permeable to permit the passage of the exhaust gas.

The NOx retention member may not only occlude NOx but also adsorb NOx. More specifically, the NOx occlusion reduction type catalyst 80 may not only occlude NOx but also adsorb NOx. Therefore, the “retention” operation performed by the NOx retention member means not only the “occlusion” of NOx but also the “adsorption” of NOx.

It is preferred that the amount of NOx retention substance contained in the catalyst layer 94 be substantially zero. However, the present invention is not limited to the use of such a catalyst layer. The present invention may alternatively be configured so that the catalyst layer 94 contains a smaller amount of NOx retention substance than the NOx retention layer 92.