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PSPD-II Consortium to Evaluate Heavy-Duty Engine Exhaust Particle Sensors

The Particle Sensor Performance and Durability (PSPD) Consortium will summarize its latest findings at a May 19 membership meeting and outline plans for a second phase. PSPD-II will evaluate heavy-duty engine exhaust particle sensors to meet two looming deadlines by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) organized the consortium in 2012 to investigate the concept of highly accurate and durable particle sensors, the size of a spark plug, for various engine emissions applications. Since then, the seven-member PSPD has amassed more than 520,000 equivalent miles of accelerated testing on three particle sensor technologies.

This work will prove useful in the near future, as automotive industry stakeholders prepare for CARB regulations which call for particulate matter sensors for onboard diagnostics (OBD) on 2016 model-year trucks.

“It is important to evaluate these technologies and understand their performance and durability before they become widespread,” said Dr. Imad Khalek, PSPD manager. “It is equally important to understand what metric of particulate matter they measure, because interest is shifting from just particle mass to both the mass and the number of particles.”

Khalek, a senior program manager in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division, said particle sensors could have applications in engine emissions performance, development and control. They also could be useful for emissions inspection and maintenance, aftertreatment quality control, retrofit applications, smoke-meter replacement, and many others.

SwRI subjected the three sensors to accelerated durability testing using a 2010 emissions-compliant, heavy-duty highway diesel engine equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst, a catalyzed diesel particulate filter, a selective catalytic reduction catalyst, and an ammonia slip oxidation catalyst.

PSPD-II research topics include studying the performance, accuracy, variability and sensitivity of particle sensors near the OBD threshold detection limit. Other topics include the measurement of soot conductivity and particle natural charge from different engine technologies, investigating leakage of soot into engine exhaust and using particle sensors for feedback emissions control.

SwRI also is considering expanding PSPD-II to include onboard sensors for NOX, ammonia, and other compounds addressed by onboard emissions monitoring and control. CARB will require full implementation of NOX reduction systems by the 2017 model year.

SwRI has many years of experience with consortium-based research. Participants gain access to shared, pre-competitive research at a fraction of the cost of financing it themselves.

PSPD-II is scheduled to begin in September and continue through August 31, 2019. The annual membership fee is $75,000 for sensor makers and $45,000 for other stakeholders.

For more information about the consortium contact Khalek at (210) 522-2536 or [email protected] or see


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