The catalytic converter is an important device for the emission control from spark-ignition engines. Several concurrent physical/chemical processes such as convective heat transfer, gas phase chemical reactions, surface reactions, flow oscillations, water vapor condensation and diffusion mechanisms add complexity to modeling of flows inside catalytic converters. Under cold-start conditions, the fact that catalytic converters do not become operational during the initial operation allows a significant fraction of the overall pollutants to be emitted. In the present study, these complex transient phenomena have been examined using a previously validated numerical model.1 The numerical results suggest new material-dependent designs to improve both the transient conversion characteristics and the steady state conversion efficiency of catalytic converters. Moreover, from our model calculations, we have observed that for a given amount of the noble metal catalysts the light-off time and the monolith temperature are greatly affected by the noble-metal distribution along the honeycomb walls of a monolith. The results of the numerical simulations indicate that the light-off time is shortened by approximately 35% for CO, H2 and C3H6 when replacing a traditional homogeneous noble metal distribution by a simple, step-function distribution.2 The emissions of CO, H2 and C3H6 from the exhaust gas are, therefore, reduced without increasing the cost of noble metal catalysts used in converters. In order to avoid further deterioration of catalysts due to the thermal effects, an optimum noble metal distribution needs to be investigated with the understanding that the optimum noble metal distribution proposed has to be practical for the manufacturing. Since the main source of the exhaust emissions is generated during the cold-start period of the converter operation, the reduction of emissions shown in our model calculations is quite substantial.

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