Impact of Fuel Metal Impurities on the Durability of a Light-Duty Diesel Aftertreatment System

Aaron Williams, Jonathan Burton, Robert L. McCormick, Todd Toops, Andrew A. Wereszczak, Ethan E. Fox, Michael J. Lance, Giovanni Cavataio, Douglas Dobson, Jim Warner, Rasto Brezny, K. Nguyen, D. William Brookshear

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Alkali and alkaline earth metal impurities found in diesel fuels are potential poisons for diesel exhaust catalysts. Using an accelerated aging procedure, a set of production exhaust systems from a 2011 Ford F250 equipped with a 6.7L diesel engine have been aged to an equivalent of 150,000 miles of thermal aging and metal exposure. These exhaust systems included a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalyst, and diesel particulate filter (DPF). Four separate exhaust systems were aged, each with a different fuel: ULSD containing no measureable metals, B20 containing sodium, B20 containing potassium and B20 containing calcium. Metals levels were selected to simulate the maximum allowable levels in B100 according to the ASTM D6751 standard. Analysis of the aged catalysts included Federal Test Procedure emissions testing with the systems installed on a Ford F250 pickup, bench flow reactor testing of catalyst cores, and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). The thermo-mechanical properties of the aged DPFs were also measured. EPMA imaging of aged catalyst parts found that both the Na and K penetrated into the washcoat of the DOC and SCR catalysts, while Ca remained on the surface of the washcoat. Bench flow reactor experiments were used to measure the standard NOx conversion, NH3 storage and NH3 oxidation for each of the aged SCR catalysts. Flow reactor results showed that the first inch of the SCR catalysts exposed to Na and K had reduced NOx conversion through a range of temperatures and also had reduced NH3 storage capacity. The SCR catalyst exposed to Ca had similar NOx conversion and NH3 storage performance compared to the catalyst aged with ULSD. Using a chassis dynamometer, vehicle emissions tests were conducted with each of the aged catalyst systems installed onto a Ford F250 pickup. Regardless of the evidence of catalyst deactivation seen in flow reactor experiments and EPMA imaging, the vehicle successfully passed the 0.2 gram/mile NOx emission standard with each of the four aged exhaust systems. This indicates that total catalyst volume is adequate to accommodate the catalyst activity loss observed in the flow reactor experiments.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2013
EventSAE 2013 World Congress and Exhibition - Detroit, MI, United States
Duration: 16 Apr 201318 Apr 2013


ConferenceSAE 2013 World Congress and Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDetroit, MI

Bibliographical note

Posted with permission

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-57585


  • alkali
  • alkaline
  • diesel exhaust catalysts
  • diesel fuels
  • earth metal impurities
  • exhaust system aging
  • Ford F250 pickup


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