Lean NOx trap catalysis has demonstrated the ability to reduce NOx emissions from lean natural gas reciprocating engines by >90%. The technology operates in a cyclic fashion where NOx is trapped on the catalyst during lean operation and released and reduced to N2 under rich exhaust conditions; the rich cleansing operation of the cycle is referred to as “regeneration” since the catalyst is reactivated for more NOx trapping. Natural gas combusted over partial oxidation catalysts in the exhaust can be used to obtain the rich exhaust conditions necessary for catalyst regeneration. Thus, the lean NOx trap technology is well suited for lean natural gas engine applications. One potential limitation of the lean NOx trap technology is sulfur poisoning. Sulfur compounds directly bond to the NOx trapping sites of the catalyst and render them ineffective; over time, the sulfur poisoning leads to degradation in overall NOx reduction performance. In order to mitigate the effects of sulfur poisoning, a process has been developed to restore catalyst activity after sulfur poisoning has occurred. The process is an aqueous-based wash process that removes the poisoned sorbate component of the catalyst. A new sorbate component is reapplied after removal of the poisoned sorbate. The process is low cost and does not involve reapplication of precious metal components of the catalyst. Experiments were conducted to investigate the feasibility of the washing process on a lean 8.3-liter natural gas engine on a dynamometer platform. The catalyst was rapidly sulfur poisoned with bottled SO2 gas; then, the catalyst sorbate was washed and reapplied and performance was reevaluated. Results show that the sorbate reapplication process is effective at restoring lost performance due to sulfur poisoning. Specific details relative to the implementation of the process for large stationary natural gas engines will be discussed.

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