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Emission legislation creates need for ICE sensors

Posted: 28 Jul 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:emission  sensor  exhaust  engine 

The global sensor market used in internal combustion looks ahead to lucrative years as utilisation in engine management and exhaust aftertreatment continues to increase, according to an IHS Technology report. Sensor shipments for ICEs will top 1.34 billion units in 2019 at a projected six-year CAGR of 3.6 per cent.

"Shipments of ICE sensors are growing slightly faster than car shipments," said Richard Dixon, Ph.D., principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. "The main reason is that new concepts in emissions mitigation in the engine and in exhaust aftertreatment systems require advanced sensors for their operation. Added to that, emission legislation in some major markets of the world, like China, is beginning to catch up with that of mature markets like the U.S., Europe and Japan, at least in the larger cities."

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Among the 24 applications identified for sensors used in ICEs, several measurements have been essential to electronic fuel management systems for more than 20 years: the position of the throttle and crankshaft, the absolute air pressure of the intake manifold and the residual oxygen in the exhaust. And multiple sensor insertions are possible—depending on the pipe configuration, a gasoline engine can feature four oxygen sensors, two of which serve an on-board diagnostics function to check for correct operation, although a diesel engine still has only one oxygen sensor, located before the diesel oxygen catalyst.

In fact in 1993, five to seven sensors were required to meet the Euro emissions standard 1 set for European countries. In comparison, to meet upcoming Euro 6 standards beginning in September this year, at least 20 sensors are needed—depending on the engine.

Most of the new sensors are related to exhaust aftertreatment because of new emissions laws, IHS notes, with NOx reduction a focus alongside that of carbon dioxide. As a pollutant, NOx has long been a stronger focus for U.S. legislation, which also dictates that the emission parameters are measured under realistic driving cycle conditions. But European legislators have also become tougher on this gas in recent years. IHS forecasts that the market for NOx sensors will grow at a CAGR of 9.3 per cent during the next five years from 2014 to 2019.

Heat tolerance in the engine

The biggest category for sensing is temperature measurement, with multiple sensors to be found on exhaust systems. The technology used is typically platinum-based resistance temperature detector (RTD) sensors to withstand temperatures of up to 1,000°C.

On average, approximately two temperature sensors are used per vehicle. At lower temperatures, negative-resistance sensors (NTC) or semiconductor integrated circuits are also deployed. Examples include engine-coolant monitoring to protect against overheating, intake air measurement or in exhaust-gas recirculation systems used to lower NOx output from the engine.


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