Issue: May 2007


Advanced SCR technology for the automotive OEMs



Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Ulrich Wölfel, Director Business Unit Automotive, Argillon

by James Hilton

Late 2006, Argillon GmbH, the global leader in selective catalytic reduction or SCR catalytic converters, inked a strategic partnership with Transcapital International Ltd (TCI), Shanghai. TCI has numerous investments in China. Argillon’s tie up with TCI will help it offer Chinese power plant operators and energy suppliers its SINOx® catalytic converters. These help cut nitrogen oxides. According to the company, SCR catalytic converters are the most effective means of reducing nitrous oxides in exhaust fumes created by the burning of fossil fuels

This is part of Argillon’s mission to expand its reach across the globe. SINOx® Emissions Control Systems allow an engine to be tuned for maximum fuel economy and performance while reducing NOx and particulate emissions, says the company. Nitrogen oxides represent the main contributors to the formation of smog and acid rain.

“For decades, SINOx® Emissions Control has installed complete solutions for the purification of emissions. Worldwide, our industrial SCR system (catalyst and facility integration) has proven itself on many different applications making us a market leader. In all emission production areas: greenhouses, stationary power stations, incineration plants, transport or passenger ships, and heavy duty vehicles with diesel, gas engines or gas turbines, our major components are in house products of SINOx® Emissions Control.

Since 2004/2005 Argillon is supplying the entire range of SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) catalytic converters to two large European commercial vehicle manufacturers.

Until the end of the first quarter of 2007 the company has invested more than
20 million euros in two steps of a manufacturing expansion program for automotive catalysts.

With this further investment the company will increase capacity and production of technical ceramics in the Business Unit Catalysts Automotive at the Redwitz, Germany plant by more than 50 percent. A large, modern, production hall is now going up where Argillon’s environmentally friendly SINOx® catalytic converters will be made.

The United States and Japan have passed legislation that insists on the reduction of diesel exhaust fumes from new vehicles and power plants. For original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, Argillon’s SCR catalytic converters offer the best option to cut nitrogen oxides by as much as 95 per cent.

“The customer benefit of saving costs in a background of tightening environmental standards makes SCR to the means of choice for also complying with the emission limits for heavy duty trucks. We are well prepared for that and will offer long lasting problem solutions which save the environment and pay off for the customer. The design of the SINOx® catalysts is tailored to the chemical and physical conditions of service. If necessary, Argillon may perform additional customizing studies to find the ideal catalyst for each application. Since 1987 SINOx catalysts have decomposed millions of tons of nitrogen oxides,” says the company.

Argillon is certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001 and DIN EN ISO14001. Currently the certification to TS 16949 is in preparation. The company customizes its SINOx® catalysts to suit the requirements of customers. The company is able to tailor both the chemical as well as the physical conditions of service and offers consultancy services to see which application is suitable to customers.

Worldwide, Argillon employs approximately 1500 people. Business Units include Catalysts, Insulators, Piezo and Alumina production. Argillon is headquartered in Redwitz, Germany. It is here that development, manufacture, sales and service of technical ceramics are concentrated.
Additional, are subsidiaries for medium voltage insulators in Jedlina Zdroj (Poland) and for high voltage insulators in Turda (Romania). The U.S. marketing and engineering office is located in Alpharetta, Ga. (USA). Furthermore there is a marketing and engineering office in China.

Argillon has been a part of DEMAG Holding based in Luxembourg since September 2002. The American Private Equity Company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. has an 81 per cent and Siemens AG 19 per cent stake in the company.

Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Ulrich Wölfel, Director Business Unit Automotive, Argillon.

AI: How popular is your SCR technology with automotive OEMs?

After putting huge efforts into engine measures to reduce NOx, most of the European OEMs decided to use exhaust gas after treatment to comply with EURO IV and later NOx standards rather than using EGR and necessarily particulate filters. The reason for fitting NOx abatement catalysts to their trucks is the better fuel economy the engine gains when tuned for low engine out particulate emission and a higher engine out NOx emission. The higher NOx is reduced well below the limits by Argillon’s high efficient SINOx SCR catalyst.
Argillon is the main supplier of SCR catalysts for DaimlerChrysler and IVECO trucks.


AI: What makes your product better than other catalytic converters?

There are a lot of demands for a catalytic converter used in a truck. First of all, the NOx reduction performance has to be superior in order to follow the highly transient operation of a truck engine concerning exhaust gas mass flow and temperature. On the other hand, the lifetime requirement is 1 Mio km. Though, our experience from power plant applications was very helpful to design the current catalyst for the truck application.
But the real difference is the constitution of the Argillon catalyst. It is homogeneously extruded and no precious metals are used. Hence, the base material is active itself and does not need a coating. The overall mass of active material is much higher compared to a coated catalyst and results in a higher activity at low exhaust gas temperature which is essential in today’s test cycles and on-road driving behavior. Furthermore, the non present coating cannot flake off during severe conditions.

AI: What are your plans for expanding your SINOx emissions control products in the automotive industry in Asia?

Argillon is well prepared to support Asian companies to match with new emission regulations. Based on the long history with catalysts and serial truck experience in Europe, together with our partner TCI we are present for the Asian market. However, our primary focus in Asia is the power plant and systems business.


AI: Please give us examples of how you modified your SINOx catalysts to suit an automotive client>

According to the well spotted demands already mentioned, we designed the catalyst for the truck application in particular. The most obvious differences are the higher cell density compared to catalysts for power plants and the diameter dimensions. Of course the truck catalysts are of round shape without exception. Rather unapparent is the adaptation of the recipe for the catalyst composition. Fine tuning was made to bias high NOx conversion performance and fast transient response for corresponding operation conditions.
However, the acceptance was based on different tests performed by the OEMs concerning thermal and mechanical strength as well as NOx abatement activity versus temperature.

AI: What modifications are you working on to further improve your SCR technology? How much of your revenues do you keep aside for R&D?

Again, our work is guided by the requirements of our customers. As we also look not only to customers in Europe, there are somewhat different demands in other parts of the world, especially in North America. Even with future emission legislation there will be the necessity to combine the catalyst with a particulate filter system. This may result in an even higher temperature resistance that the catalyst has to adduce.

The combination of future requirements will require new formulae which we also develop today. This R&D is focused always on our customers and markets. Our R&D expenditures amount approx. 6 per cent of revenues.


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