Catalytic Combustion Corp. announces catalyst testing breakthrough
Posted July 24, 2012
BLOOMER, Wis. (July 25, 2012) - Catalytic Combustion Corp. (CCC), a catalyst manufacturer for more than 60 years, announces the introduction of a proprietary non-destructive catalytic activity tester for used catalysts - an industry first - called the Activity Value Test System (AVTS™).
This breakthrough is important because the loss of catalytic activity hampers an element's ability to control emissions from stationary industrial engines and has previously been difficult to assess.
CCC developed the innovative and patent-pending test process in response to catalyst users in the energy industry wanting to know whether washed catalysts were worth reinstalling or needed to be replaced. The AVTS technology delivers the necessary data for catalyst users to make informed decisions.
The AVTS test unit is engineered to provide a repeatable set of temperature and flow conditions similar to those a catalyst sees in the field. It gauges the activity level by introducing to the catalyst a standard reference compound found in a gas engine's exhaust.
Catalysts are manufactured using precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, so the cost of the elements can be relatively high. Over time, every catalyst accumulates debris that blocks the flow to the precious metal locations. This decreases the overall performance of the catalyst and requires that the element be removed and cleaned, or replaced.
Chemical washing to extend the lifespan of catalysts that have become dirty during normal operation is an economically sound practice and is often a viable option over buying new elements. However, there are circumstances where washing cannot restore sufficient activity to bring an engine into compliance.
"Not knowing if the washing process has improved a catalyst often puts catalyst users in a 'roll the dice' position when it comes to having to decide whether or not to reinstall it," explained John Robinson, vice president of CCC's Catalyst Division and the engineer who led the development of the AVTS. "And while no one wants to prematurely replace a catalyst that has useful life remaining, the cost of doing so pales in comparison to the expenses associated with lost production time, field maintenance costs and/or the potential fines associated with failed emissions compliance.
"Up until now, a washed catalyst element being returned from a washing station was simply that, a washed catalyst, and users had repeatedly expressed their frustration to us at not knowing if the washed catalyst would perform as expected. With this new AVTS tool, the user can get a test report showing the element's relative level of catalytic activity upon arrival at the washing station, and whether the cleaning process yielded any improvement after the washing."
Several sections of a catalyst element are spot tested to evaluate its overall catalytic activity condition. The data gathered is used to calculate a numerical score called the Activity Value Index (AVI™), which reflects the health of the catalyst element.
The AVTS and AVI scoring systems were developed to be "color blind," meaning all catalysts are evaluated on an equal basis. The testing system will work for any catalyst being produced for industrial engines. The system provides AVI results for both three-way and oxidation catalysts.
"The test process was developed to provide valid data in a way that we don't even need to know whose catalyst it is when we're evaluating the element," Robinson said. "The AVTS is not intended to be a re-creation of the conditions the catalyst sees in service. Nor is AVI a prediction of field performance. The goal of the AVTS/AVI combination is to give users the confidence to decide if a catalyst is worth putting back into service."
CCC has the first AVTS unit in operation at its headquarters in Bloomer, Wis., and the second one officially opens this week at its affiliated five-step certified catalyst cleaning station at Western Filter Co. (WFC) in Longview, Texas. Some catalyst users in the region have previewed the tester in operation and as a result, word about the new service is spreading.
"Personally, I see a catalyst testing unit at a washing station to be comparable to a car battery tester at the local auto parts store ... it can be an invaluable tool for helping make the right decisions," said Jason Beagle, emissions field supervisor for Mid-Con Compression. "You don't want to put a bad product back into a machine, so having test data about a used catalyst is a big deal. Determining if there's a problem with a product before reinstallation can save time and money."
Catalyst testing is provided at a cost of $50 per test spot, with three to six spots being checked. This is a nominal cost compared to the few hundred dollars for washing services and potentially several thousand dollars for purchase of a new element.
"I'd welcome the opportunity to know if a used catalyst is worth washing before spending the money to clean it," commented Mark Davis, technical services engineer at J-W Energy Co. "And as far as washed catalysts go, up to this point it has always been a hit or miss as to what we get.
"All we've been able to do until now is make a visual inspection and hope for the best. Without a doubt, having real information available about the catalytic activity condition of pre- and post-washed elements would be a great benefit when weighing decisions about their continued use."
CCC is manufacturing additional AVTS units now, and they are expected to be in service this fall at WFC's other washing stations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as at CCC's washing facility in Gillette, Wyoming.
"As one of the few companies in the U.S. that manufactures and coats its own catalysts, fabricates its own line of housings and provides washing services, we're proud to bring another innovative concept to this industry," said CCC president Mark Ruff. "At the end of the day, catalyst performance is science. We're here to help catalyst users make reasonable decisions based on facts. We believe this is what a responsible catalyst manufacturer should do."