Lance, M., Sluder, C., Lewis, S., and Storey, J., "Characterization of Field-Aged EGR Cooler Deposits," SAE Int. J. Engines 3(2):126-136, 2010, doi:10.4271/2010-01-2091.
Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler fouling has become a significant issue for compliance with nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions standards. In order to better understand fouling mechanisms, eleven field-aged EGR coolers provided by seven different engine manufacturers were characterized using a suite of techniques. Microstructures were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical microscopy following mounting the samples in epoxy and polishing. Optical microscopy was able to discern the location of hydrocarbons in the polished cross-sections. Chemical compositions were measured using thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), differential thermal analysis (DTA), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and x-ray diffraction (XRD). Mass per unit area along the length of the coolers was also measured. Despite coming from different sources and applications, many common features were observed in the cooler deposits including mud-cracking, hydrocarbon condensation near the metal surface, and erosion of the deposit. Differences and commonalities between the coolers will be discussed in the context of better understanding cooler fouling and ways to prevent it.