19 April 2006
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has signed a licensing agreement with AGNI Test Systems (ATS) granting ATS exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute commercial FOCAS® systems in the United States. FOCAS, developed by SwRI, is a method of accelerated automotive exhaust catalyst aging.
The licensing agreement grants ATS the right to manufacture, market, use and lease FOCAS systems commercially. ATS plans to have commercial units available for customer use by early 2007.
When conducting emission testing of new vehicle models, manufacturers use catalysts that have been operated or “aged” for a time period that simulates the vehicle’s useful life (120,000 miles for US Tier 2 vehicles). FOCAS offers a method of aging the catalysts much faster than operating them on engines, thus minimizing the cost of testing. SwRI estimates that about $40 million per year is spent globally in performing catalyst-aging testing.
FOCAS uses a gasoline-fueled burner with an integrated, computerized control system to age catalytic converters. The flow of exhaust gas from an engine can be simulated under a variety of load conditions, allowing full-sized automotive catalyst systems to be rapidly aged. The system can provide exhaust gas at elevated temperatures for extended periods, with or without the introduction of engine lubricant to simulate engine oil consumption.
The FOCAS system has been designed primarily for aging three-way catalysts for gasoline engines. SwRI is also considering the development of a diesel version, for aging of diesel oxidation catalysts and particulate filter systems.
More information about FOCAS is available at focas.swri.org.