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An Overview of Lean Exhaust deNOx Aftertreatment Technologies and NOx Emission Regulations in the European Union

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), 21027 Ispra, Italy
Corning Inc., Corning, NY 19831, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Feng Gao and Philippe Vernoux
Catalysts 2021, 11(3), 404;
Received: 18 February 2021 / Revised: 10 March 2021 / Accepted: 16 March 2021 / Published: 23 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selective Catalytic Reduction of NOx by NH3)
This paper reviews the recent advances in the management of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from the internal combustion engine of light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, addressing both technical and legal aspects. Particular focus is devoted to the often-virtuous interaction between new legislation imposing more restrictions on the permitted pollutant emission levels and new technologies developed in order to meet these restrictions. The review begins first with the American and then European directives promulgated in the 1970s, aimed at limiting emissions of pollutants from road transport vehicles. Particular attention is paid to the introduction of the Euro standards in the European Union for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, used as a legal and time frame reference for the evolution of emission aftertreatment systems (ATSs). The paper also describes governmental approaches implemented for the control of pollutant emissions in circulating vehicles, such as market surveillance and in-service conformity. In parallel, it is explained how the gradual introduction of small-scale devices aimed at the NOx control, such as lean NOx traps (LNTs) systems, and, most of all, the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of NOx, permitted the application to road-transport vehicles of this ATS, originally designed in larger sizes for industrial usage. The paper reviews chemical processes occurring in SCR systems and their advantages and drawbacks with respect to the pollutant emission limits imposed by the legislation. Their potential side effects are also addressed, such as the emission of extra, not-yet regulated pollutants such as, for example, NH3 and N2O. The NOx, N2O, and NH3 emission level evolution with the various Euro standards for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles are reported in the light of experimental data obtained at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It is observed that the new technologies, boosted by increasingly stricter legal limits, have led in the last two decades to a clear decrease of over one order of magnitude of NOx emissions in Diesel light-duty vehicles, bringing them to the same level as Euro 6 gasoline vehicles (10 mg/km to 20 mg/km in average). On the other hand, an obvious increase in the emissions of both NH3 and N2O is observed in both Diesel and gasoline light-duty vehicles, whereby NH3 emissions in spark-ignition vehicles are mainly linked to two-reaction mechanisms occurring in three-way catalysts after the catalyst light-off and during engine rich-operation. NH3 emissions measured in recent Euro 6 light-duty vehicles amount to a few mg/km for both gasoline and Diesel engines, whereby N2O emissions exceeding a dozen mg/km have been observed in Diesel vehicles only. The present paper can be regarded as part of a general assessment in view of the next EU emission standards, and a discussion on the role the SCR technology may serve as a NOx emission control strategy from lean-burn vehicles. View Full-Text
Keywords: DeNOx; SCR; EU regulation; NOx DeNOx; SCR; EU regulation; NOx
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MDPI and ACS Style

Selleri, T.; Melas, A.D.; Joshi, A.; Manara, D.; Perujo, A.; Suarez-Bertoa, R. An Overview of Lean Exhaust deNOx Aftertreatment Technologies and NOx Emission Regulations in the European Union. Catalysts 2021, 11, 404.

AMA Style

Selleri T, Melas AD, Joshi A, Manara D, Perujo A, Suarez-Bertoa R. An Overview of Lean Exhaust deNOx Aftertreatment Technologies and NOx Emission Regulations in the European Union. Catalysts. 2021; 11(3):404.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Selleri, Tommaso, Anastasios D. Melas, Ameya Joshi, Dario Manara, Adolfo Perujo, and Ricardo Suarez-Bertoa. 2021. "An Overview of Lean Exhaust deNOx Aftertreatment Technologies and NOx Emission Regulations in the European Union" Catalysts 11, no. 3: 404.

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