Cleaner running and dynamic performance: the diesel catalytic converter fitted to BMW diesel vehicles helps reduce emissions of gases and particulates.
Petrol engines use a three-way catalytic converter, which reduces oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and oxidises hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO). BMW diesel engines use an oxidation-type catalytic converter to oxidise hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide using the oxygen present in diesel exhaust.
The post-oxidisation also serves to reduce the soluble organic fraction of particulates. The catalytic converter consists of a ceramic block with a honeycomb structure: the channels of this honeycomb possess a high-performance platinum washcoat. In BMW vehicles, the converter block is located close to the engine, providing it with the warmth it needs to function efficiently.
Since the diesel engine is more durable than its gasoline counterpart, the required life expectancy for diesel catalytic converters is also longer than that for gasoline converters. For example, since 2004 the US EPA durability requirement for emission control systems on heavy-duty diesel engines is 10 years/22,000 hours/435,000 miles (700,000 km), whichever occurs first (previously, the requirements were 8 years/290,000 miles or 467,000 km).
In situations where thermal losses from the converter are important, they have to be modeled during the converter design. Double walled designs with either air gaps or ceramic fiber insulation are commonly used on gasoline converters in the close-coupled location, which are optimized for cold start hydrocarbon performance. Since diesel cold start emissions are much less critical, such designs have not been used for diesel converters. However, due to the low temperature of diesel exhaust gases, diesel converters should be placed close to the exhaust manifold or exhaust pipe insulation should be applied to assure satisfactory catalyst performance. The low temperature performance, including cold start, is becoming increasingly important for diesel catalytic converters, especially in light-duty applications.
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