You are here

Reliable, Durable, Low-Cost Sensors for Advanced Combustion and Emission Control Strategies


d.      Reliable, Durable, Low-Cost Sensors for Advanced Combustion and Emission Control Strategies

This subtopic solicits proposals to develop sensors for engine combustion and after treatment systems that offer a significant decrease in cost while demonstrating durability, as well as improved speed and accuracy that enable new combustion strategies.


Advanced combustion engines that increase fuel economy while meeting increasingly stringent emission regulations will require innovative control strategies. Such control strategies need a variety of accurate and timely inputs. Sensors which measure important inputs like temperature, pressure, fuel-air ratio, fuel quality, and piston and valve position, as well as reliably detect pollutants at all operating conditions would be installed on future engines and used for combustion control and active feedback. While various sensor options are currently available, significant reductions in cost and increased durability are needed to be widely implemented. In some cases, improvements in speed and accuracy of sensor measurements are desired to enable real-time adjustments of engine operation that would facilitate further efficiency improvements.


Combustion strategies that operate fuel-lean offer superior fuel efficiency, but require complex exhaust gas after treatment systems, including particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalysts using injected urea solution, to comply with emission regulations. Currently, back pressure sensors are employed in conjunction with control maps to identify when regeneration (soot oxidation) of particulate filters is needed, but more advanced sensors may enable reducing the regeneration frequency and/or shortening the length of the process (reducing fuel penalty). Real-time sensors for direct measurement of exhaust oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) and for ammonia (NH3), are lacking. Adoption of low NOx and PM regulation will further challenge measurement of these ultra-low pollutants.


Applications must demonstrate:

·         An understanding of the current state-of-the-art (SOA) in automotive sensors.

·         Why the proposed technology represents significant improvement in the SOA with respect to cost, accuracy, durability, or other important parameters.

·         Evidence, or a plan to demonstrate, that the sensor will work reliably for the typical lifetime of the vehicle.

·         Evidence that the proposed sensor technology once installed in engines and after treatment systems will facilitate fuel efficiency improvements.

·         Evidence that the sensor is likely to be successfully installed on a modern, production automotive engine in Phase II.


Questions – Contact: Michael Weismiller,

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government