PISTON-TYPE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE

- VOLVO LASTVAGNAR AB

A piston-type internal combustion engine (10) having an intake line (20) for delivering air to combustion chambers of the engine and an exhaust system (15, 22) for removing exhaust gases from said combustion chambers. The exhaust system includes equipment (29, 30) for reducing environmentally harmful exhaust emissions from the engine, which is intended to function with variable load in order to propel a vehicle. The exhaust system (15, 22) has a branch pipe (26) controlled by a valve (24) and bypassing at least one part of the equipment (29, 30) for reducing environmentally harmful exhaust emissions. The valve (24) is controlled so that it leads the exhaust gas flow through the branch pipe (26) over a part of the overall load range of the engine. The engine is optimized in order to give acceptable exhaust emissions over said part of the overall load range of the engine.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation patent application of International Application No. PCT/SE2004/001306 filed 9 Sep. 2004 which is published in English pursuant to Article 21(2) of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and which claims priority to Swedish Application No. 0302418-9 filed 9 Sep. 2003 and Swedish Application No. 0303201-8 filed 25 Nov. 2003. Said applications are expressly incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a piston-type internal combustion engine having an intake line for delivering air to combustion chambers of the engine and an exhaust system for removing exhaust gases from said combustion chambers, the exhaust system comprising equipment for reducing environmentally harmful exhaust emissions from the engine, which is intended to function with variable load in order to propel a vehicle.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

The statutory requirements relating to diesel engines have been tightened up and will continue to become more stringent, particularly in relation to emissions of nitrogen oxide pollutants and particulate emissions.

The quantity of nitrogen oxides formed by the combustion of fuel in an engine cylinder depends on the combustion temperature. Higher temperatures lead to a greater proportion of the atmospheric nitrogen being converted into nitrogen oxides. A known engine-based method of reducing the quantity of nitrogen dioxide formed is so-called exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and in particular cooled EGR, which makes it possible to reduce the combustion temperature. This method is normally not sufficient, however, to meet the statutory requirements when the engine is operating at high load. This method of cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) places an increased load on the cooling system of the engine and the vehicle, especially at high engine loads. This constitutes a limit to the attainment of a high power output while achieving lower emissions. Another known method of reducing the quantity of nitrogen dioxide, which is based on exhaust gas after-treatment, uses a so-called NOx trap (Lean NOx Absorber, LNA) to store NOx while the engine runs with excess oxygen. The NOx trap is regenerated by allowing the engine to run with deficient oxygen; that is to say, with extra fuel admixture and/or reduced air flow, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,473,887, for example. The method can result in a certain increased load on the engine in the form of soot formation and contamination of the engine lubricating oil, or dilution of the lubricating oil with fuel and high exhaust gas temperatures that are harmful to the exhaust system. Furthermore, it may create certain problems for the LNA system in operating efficiently at low and partial load, since an LNA system usually functions best at exhaust gas temperatures in excess of approximately 300° C., which normally means high or medium load.

Other known systems for reducing nitrogen oxides are LNC (Lean NOx Catalyst), which continuously reduces nitrogen oxides under lean-burn conditions. Urea SCR (Selective Catalyst Reduction) is also used for NOx reduction, see U.S. Pat. No. 5,540,047, for example.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the invention is therefore to create an internal combustion engine, which will permit a functionally improved and economic use of an exhaust after-treatment system, such as LNA, LNC, urea-SCR and soot particle filter systems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be described in more detail below with reference to exemplary embodiments as shown in the drawing attached, in which

FIG. 1 is a diagramatic view of an internal combustion engine configured according to a first exemplary embodiment of the invention; and

FIGS. 2 and 3 are diagramatic views of a second and a third exemplary embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The internal combustion engine 10 comprises (includes, but is not necessarily limited to) an engine block 11 having six piston cylinders 12 together with inlet manifold 13 and exhaust manifold 14. Exhaust gases from the engine are fed via an exhaust line 15 to a turbine rotor 17 of a turbocharger unit 16. The turbine shaft 18 drives the compressor wheel 19 of the turbocharger unit, which by way of an intake line 20 compresses incoming air and delivers it to the inlet manifold 13 via an air intercooler 21. Fuel is fed to each cylinder 12 via injection devices (not shown). Although the figure illustrates a six-cylinder engine, the invention can also be used in conjunction with other cylinder configurations.

Exhaust gases that have passed through the turbocharger unit 16 are led onwards by way of the exhaust line 22 to an oxidizing filter device 23 to separate particles from the exhaust gas flow. Downstream of the filter device is a three-way valve 24, which, as appreciated by those skilled in this art, may conduct the exhaust gases through either a branch pipe 25 or via a branch pipe 26, the two branch pipes running parallel and being reunited downstream at a point 27. The exhaust gas flow is thereafter led onwards into the atmosphere via a so-called clean-up unit 28, which may comprise an oxidation catalytic converter which oxidizes (burns) emission residues (HC, CO, etc). This unit may take various forms according to the demands placed on it (system design).

According to a first exemplary embodiment of the invention, the branch pipe 25 comprises a device 29 for mixing diesel fuel into the exhaust gas flow and a downstream NOx trap in the form of an LNA reactor 30. This comprises material which adsorbs and binds NOx during lean-burn operation within the normal temperature range of the engine. Regeneration takes place at a higher temperature than the adsorption and when the three-way valve 24 leads the exhaust gas flow largely through the branch pipe 26 (bypass) and only a smaller, variable secondary flow through the branch pipe 25, the device 29 delivering diesel fuel that is gasified and mixed into the exhaust gas flow, forming regeneration gas, which according to the prior art converts and releases the bound nitrogen oxide as N2.

The engine 10 has a system for returning exhaust gases to the intake side of the engine as so-called EGR gas, via a pipeline 31, for reducing the nitrogen oxide emission of the engine in accordance with the prior art. This line comprises a valve 32, which serves both as shut-off valve and as regulating valve for regulating the EGR flow. There is also a cooler 33 for cooling the EGR gases. The EGR system, for example, may re-circulate flows in the order of 30-60% (the gas in the inlet housing 20 is composed of 30-60% re-circulated exhaust gases and the remaining 40-70% is fresh air). When the engine is operating at low load this is feasible without overloading the cooling system. At high engine loads, on the other hand, with an effective mean pressure on the order of pme=0-15 bar and higher, these high EGR flow rates result in increased loading of the vehicle cooling system for which it is not usually designed. The internal structure of the engine is also not designed for the high cylinder pressures that can occur with high EGR contents.

When the engine is operating at low load and the composition of the gas in the inlet casing 20 is composed of 30-60% EGR, very low exhaust gas emissions, both of NOx and soot, can be achieved, for example, through the use of so-called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) combustion. For example, NOx levels of<0.5 g/kwh and theoretically soot-free combustion can be achieved. When the engine is operating at high load, the EGR system, among other things, is restrictive and the NOx trap is designed to provide the necessary NOx reduction.

The valves 24 and 32 are connected to an engine control unit containing control program and control data for controlling the engine with reference to input data. The engine control unit is connected, for example, to sensors which detect the engine speed and the accelerator pedal position. The engine control unit is designed to control the valve 24 so that at low load the exhaust gas flow is led through the branch pipe 26. Within this load range the exhaust emissions lie at acceptable levels without further after-treatment. In other load ranges the exhaust gas flow is led through the branch pipe 25, NOx being stored in the NOx trap with periodic regeneration according to known methods.

Designing the internal combustion engine according to the invention means that the exhaust gas after-treatment system has minimal impact on engine operation. The NOx trap can function within an advantageous temperature range (medium and full load), regeneration gas (hydrocarbons, H2 and CO) being ignited and the formation of byproducts at the same time being minimized (in NOx conversion at lower temperatures, that is to say<300° C., NH3 and N2O are formed). When the engine is operating at low load, for example pme=2 bar, the exhaust gas temperature downstream of the turbocharger is in the order of 200° C. Only when the engine is operating at an effective mean pressure of approximately pme=5 bar does the exhaust gas temperature downstream of the turbocharger reach a level in the order of 300° C. Since regeneration is out of the question at low load, the fuel consumption is reduced. The NOx trap is also subjected to less ageing and can thereby be designed with a smaller volume (less than 30 liters, for legislation according to USA EPA Heavy Duty Engine 2007 Family Emission Level (US07) approximately 20 liters for 40% NOx conversion in combination with an engine, the displacement of which is in the order of 12 liters and with maximum power output of approximately 300-350 kW) with the ensuing reduced need for precious metals (less than 100 g/ft3). Moreover, the engine does not need to be run rich for LNA regeneration, which reduces the loading that is associated with the dilution of lubricating oil by fuel, or heavy soot formation in the combustion chamber. Heavy soot formation forms sooty exhaust gases and can also lead to contamination/degradation of the lubricating oil. The fact that the NOx trap can reduce NOx at higher loads gives greater freedom in designing the engine cooling and supercharging system which can afford major advantages in terms of lower costs and better engine installation solutions.

It is normally true to say when designing the catalytic converter capacity for an NOx trap (LNA) that the smaller the catalytic converter capacity the greater the fuel penalty in that regeneration needs to be performed more frequently. The solution according to the present invention means that a reduction in the capacity of the NOx trap need not be achieved at the expense of an increased fuel penalty, and that the increased fuel penalty normally associated with the effects of ageing of the NOx trap can be minimized.

The exhaust line 22 may be provided with a desulfurization device 34, for example a so-called SOx trap. This device is located between the filter device 23 and the three-way valve 24. The desulfurization device comprises material that adsorbs and binds SOx in lean burn operation within the normal engine temperature range. If so required, the device 34 is regenerated at increased temperature and when the two-way valve 24 leads the exhaust gas flow through the branch pipe 26. The NOx trap can thereby be protected from sulfur oxide contamination, so that sulfur oxide regeneration need not take place in the NOx trap. It is known that sulfur oxide contamination and sulfur oxide regeneration are critical factors which contribute to the ageing of LNA reactors and which have a negative effect on their performance.

According to a second exemplary embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 2 the branch pipe 25 comprises a device 29 for mixing a reducing agent, urea or ammonia into the exhaust gas flow and a downstream SCR catalytic converter 30. Regeneration takes place continuously in that the three-way valve 24 leads the exhaust gas flow through the branch pipe 25, the device 29 adding urea or ammonia, which react with NOx in the SCR catalytic converter, producing N2.

The valves 24 and 32 are connected to an engine control unit containing control program and control data for controlling the engine with reference to input data. The engine control unit is connected, for example, to sensors which detect the engine speed and the accelerator pedal position. The engine control unit is designed to control the valve 24 so that at low load the exhaust gas flow is led through the branch pipe 26. Within this load range the exhaust emissions lie at acceptable levels without further after-treatment. In other load ranges the exhaust gas flow is led through the branch pipe 25, the gas flow being led through the SCR catalytic converter with continuous reduction as is conventionally known.

Designing the internal combustion engine according to the invention means that the exhaust gas after-treatment system has minimal effect on engine operation. The SCR catalytic converter can function within an advantageous temperature range (medium and full load). When the engine is operating a low load, for example pme=2 bar, the exhaust gas temperature downstream of the turbocharger is in the order of 200° C. Only when the engine is operating at an effective mean pressure of approximately pme=5 bar does the exhaust gas temperature downstream of the turbocharger reach a level in the order of 300° C. Since NOx reduction is out of the question at low load, the SCR catalytic converter functions in an optimum temperature range which gives high NOx reduction.

Furthermore, at low temperature the SCR catalytic converter is prevented from storing ammonia, which otherwise might be led onwards in the exhaust system during load transients. The fact that the SCR catalytic converter can reduce NOx at higher loads gives greater freedom in designing the engine cooling and supercharging system, which can afford major advantages in terms of lower costs and better engine installation solutions. A further advantage resides in the fact that a vehicle having this after-treatment system can be driven in accordance with the statutory requirements even if the reducing agent for the SCR catalytic converter has run out, in that the engine power output is reduced so that it is temporarily impossible to run the engine at high load.

If the filter device 23 is regenerated in a way that produces exhaust gas temperatures that are harmful to the SCR catalytic converter (or LNA, or LNC) the three-way valve 24 and the branch pipe 26 conduct these exhaust gases past the NOx reduction catalytic converter, thereby protecting this against ageing.

In a third exemplary embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 3 the SCR system has been replaced by an LNC system. In this case the filter device 23 may be located either upstream (as shown in FIG. 2) or downstream of the three-way valve 24. By locating the LNC system upstream of the filter device 23, the three-way valve is used to protect the NOx after-treatment system by leading exhaust gases destined for filter regeneration past the LNC catalytic converter. In filter regeneration, temperatures in excess of 700° C. can occur which are harmful to the NOx after-treatment system, which is located downstream of the filter device 23. In such cases the hot exhaust gases bypass the NOx after-treatment system via the branch pipe 26. A desulfurization device 34 is located upstream of the valve 24.

The invention must not be regarded as being limited to the exemplary embodiments described above, a number of further variants and modifications being feasible without departing from the scope of the following claims.

Claims

1. A piston-type internal combustion engine (10) comprising:

an intake line (20) configured to deliver air to combustion chambers of the engine (10) and an exhaust system (15, 22) configured to remove exhaust gases from said combustion chambers, said exhaust system comprising equipment (29, 30) for reducing environmentally harmful exhaust emissions from the engine and which functions with variable load in order to propel a vehicle; and
said exhaust system (15, 22) comprises a branch pipe (26) controlled by a valve (24) and bypassing at least one part of said equipment (29, 30) that reduces environmentally harmful exhaust emissions, said valve (24) being controlled to lead the exhaust gas flow through the branch pipe (26) over a part of the overall load range of the engine and the engine is optimized in order to give acceptable exhaust emissions over said part of the overall load range of the engine.

2. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, wherein said part of the overall load range of the engine primarily comprises the low engine load range.

3. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, wherein said branch pipe (26) is coupled in parallel with a NOx trap (30) for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from the engine, and that an injector (29) for adding a combustible substance to the exhaust gases is located between the valve (24) and the NOx trap (30), the substance permitting regeneration of said trap.

4. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, wherein said branch pipe (26) is coupled in parallel with an exhaust gas after-treatment system which comprises an SCR catalytic converter (30).

5. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, further comprising a regeneratable particle filter (23) located upstream of the valve (24), regeneration being possible whilst the exhaust gas flow is being led through the branch pipe (26).

6. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, wherein said branch pipe (26) is coupled in parallel with an exhaust gas after-treatment system which comprises an LNC catalytic converter (30).

7. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 6, further comprising a regeneratable particle filter (23) located downstream of a point (27) at which the branch pipe (26) and the LNC catalytic converter (30) containing the exhaust line converge and thereby permitting regeneration of the particle filter while the exhaust gas flow is being led via the branch pipe (26).

8. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 6, further comprising a desulfurization device (34) located upstream of the valve (24).

9. The internal combustion engine as recited in claim 1, further comprising a system (31-33) configured to return cooled exhaust gases to the intake side of the engine in order to reduce the combustion temperature.

Patent History

Publication number: 20060179823
Type: Application
Filed: Mar 9, 2006
Publication Date: Aug 17, 2006
Applicant: VOLVO LASTVAGNAR AB (Goteborg)
Inventors: Andreas HINZ (Onsala), Per SALOMONSSON (Billdal), Lennart ANDERSSON (Varberg), Per PERSSON (Partille)
Application Number: 11/308,173

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: 60/288.000; 60/297.000; 60/295.000
International Classification: F01N 3/00 (20060101);