Thermal Analysis and Testing of a Vacuum-Insulated Catalytic Converter

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Based on a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, about 95% of all trips start after a cold-soak period of 16 hours or less. By preserving the heat in the catalyst between trips, exhaust gases could be processed without warm-up delay and without the usual cold-start emissions. Vacuum insulation and phase change thermal storage have been incorporated into a catalytic converterdesign to enhance its heat-retention time. Laboratory testing of a bench-scale prototype showed that a 'light off' temperature (above 350 degrees C) could be maintained during a 10-hour cold soak. Design improvements currently being tested should increase this heat-retention time to more than 16 hours. The thermal conductance of the vacuum insulation will be made continuously variable to preventoverheating and excessive thermal cycling. This approach to thermal management may be more durable and less costly than quick-heat methods using electric or fuel-fired preheat catalysts.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 1994

Bibliographical note

Also published in SAE Technical Paper Series SP-1053, Progress in Emission Control Technologies, Paper #941998, pp. 137-142

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-473-7072


  • catalytic converter design
  • phase-change thermal storage
  • thermal management
  • vacuum insulation


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