Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cleaner diesel sensing a lucrative market


An ambitious EU project created new pollution sensors for the automotive industry that could enable a multibillion euro market in emission control systems by 2010. The sensors will also help Europe to meet its CO2 obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

The IMITEC project developed an emission control system for light duty diesel vehicles. Diesel powered vehicles are increasingly becoming a major part of the European market and already occupy more than 50 per cent of the car fleet in several European countries such as France.

During its research IMITEC scored a remarkable number of firsts. "I think when we started the project it was considered highly ambitious, but we have met out targets and we now have several technologies that will be commercialised," says Dr Athanasios G. Konstandopoulos, project coordinator and director of the Aerosol and Particle Technology Laboratory at CERTH/CPERI in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Diesel is the most efficient combustion engine currently available, says Konstandopoulos, but it comes with emissions of particulates, a soot made mainly of carbon, and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) as by-products. IMITEC’s major innovation was to create the first particulate sensors for next generation diesel exhaust emission control systems.

Emission control invariably consists of a particulate filter, and the particulate sensor developed by IMITEC is vital for the so called ‘closed-loop’ control of this filter. As the filter is clogged by the collected particulate it needs to be cleaned by oxidation of the accumulated soot and this requires the raising of the exhaust temperature as diesel engines are so efficient the regular exhaust temperature is too low to oxidise soot. This process is termed ‘regeneration’.

The IMITEC sensor platform enables the activation of ‘regeneration’ in an adaptive and efficient fashion leading to fuel savings and increased reliability of the emission control system.

Sometimes filters need to regenerate after 500km, or 1000km, but to know exactly when, you need a sensor. "But the only way to know when to begin the regeneration process is to know the history of the filter, the driving profile of the vehicle," says Konstandopoulos. "It’s a key part of the whole system."

But IMITEC built more than sensors; they built an entire Emissions Control System for diesel engines, initially for light duty and passenger cars but the technology could be adapted for trucks. Particulate sensing and filter regeneration strategy, however, were the key parts of the project.

IMITEC developed two types of sensors during its research. Hardware sensors measure directly the values of particulates, temperature and pressure in the exhaust. Virtual sensors, on the other hand, are software that measure other sensors in the car and then apply an algorithm to discover a given measurement.

An example is the virtual sensor that computes the amount of soot load in a Diesel Particulate Filter from signals of filter pressure drop, exhaust flow and exhaust temperature. The output of these virtual sensors are used by the Engine Control Unit to adaptively and efficiently manage the emission control system.

All of IMITEC’s achievements go a long way to fulfilling the need for emission controls of the future.

It also attracted the intense interest of the automotive industry. The research centre of Fiat, one of Europe’s leading carmakers joined the project, as did UK-based Johnson Matthey, the world’s number one supplier of automotive catalysts, and Bosch Germany, the world’s leading supplier of exhaust sensors, fuel injection systems, and engine control units. The consortium also included Austria-based AVL, the largest independent automotive engineering company in the world and the CDL-ACT laboratory of the University of Leoben.

"We’ve been approached by many carmakers, and there are a lot of opportunities for spin-offs products, too," says Konstandopoulos. For example, the team may develop a highly portable unit for use in garages, to aid repairs and system monitoring.

Konstandopoulos believes the diesel emission control market could reach €10bn to €15bn a year by 2010. "Projections indicate that 50 per cent of European cars will be diesel by 2010, or 10m to 15m annually. If we estimate the cost of the entire emission control system at €1,000, which may be a reasonable estimate today, then you have a very important economic impact," he says.

The team developed a demonstrator of their Emissions Control System, fitted into a Fiat Ducato. "We have a demonstrator, in a real car, that will meet the anticipated Euro V emission standards expected to be finalised by the end of 2005," says Konstandopoulos. "This is another major result."

It’s just one more ambition achieved by a very ambitious project.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Automotive Engineering:

nachricht New algorithm for optimized stability of planar-rod objects
11.08.2016 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Automated driving: Steering without limits
05.02.2016 | FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

All articles from Automotive Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>