Diesel-fueled vehicles perform many of the everyday activities needed to keep society running, from picking up garbage to repairing utility lines. However, for today’s diesel vehicles to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tailpipe emissions standards, they use a complex set of emissions controls. Filters that minimize particulate matter are one of the most commonly used forms of emission control systems. Particulate matter can reduce lung function, aggravate asthma, worsen cardiovascular disease, and harm ecosystems,
To reduce energy consumption, minimize cost, and increase particulate filter systems’ durability, Filter Sensing Technologies, Inc. (FST) successfully developed and tested a specialized diesel particulate filter sensor as part of a project supported by the Vehicle Technologies Office. When used in diesel vehicles, this technology can save energy, increase fuel economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the technology’s potential, R&D Magazine awarded FST a R&D 100 award for the radio frequency diesel particulate filter sensor in 2014. FST went on to demonstrate the benefits of the technology, and CTS Corporation, an established Tier 1 supplier, ultimately picked up the sensor and is commercializing it. CTS has a 120-year history as a U.S.-based designer and manufacturer of sensors, actuators and electronic components to OEMs.
The sensor uses radio frequencies to measure the amount and distribution of soot and ash in diesel particulate filters. In general, particulate filters become clogged and lose effectiveness over time. To clear the filters and enable them to function, the system needs to periodically burn off the soot and ash, known as regeneration. While essential to minimize emissions, regeneration uses a substantial amount of energy. In vehicles without this technology, regeneration takes place on a fixed schedule, regardless of whether the filter is truly clogged or not.
In contrast, this FST technology uses a sensor with radio frequency technology (electric currents that are at the same frequencies as radio waves) to determine when a vehicles’ particulate filter system is clogged with soot. Then, the sensor automatically signals the engine to burn it off. By only having the regeneration process occur as needed, this technology saves energy, increases fuel economy, and minimizes fuel costs.
Researchers conducted fleet testing for this project with the New York City Department of Sanitation on trucks equipped with 11-liter diesel engines. These refuse haulers are among the most challenging applications for diesel particulate filter control systems due to their urban drive cycles. Testing results indicated the technology has a significant potential to reduce both how long each regeneration takes, and how often they occur.
Learn more about this project through its Annual Merit Review presentation or the Vehicle Technologies Office’s Emission Control webpage.
The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports research, development (R&D), and deployment of efficient and sustainable highway transportation technologies to improve vehicles’ fuel economy and minimize petroleum use. These technologies will increase Americans’ energy security, lower costs, and reduce environmental impacts.