Description

In order to obtain a high purification rate of the carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbon (HC) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) components in the exhaust gas, a TWC (Three-Way Catalytic Converter) is used. For the most efficient use of the TWC, the air-fuel ratio must be precisely controlled so that it is always close to the stoichiometric air-fuel level. For the purpose of helping the ECM to deliver accurate air-fuel ratio control, a Heated Oxygen (HO2) sensor is used.

The HO2 sensor is located behind the TWC, and detects the oxygen concentration in the exhaust gas. Since the sensor is integrated with the heater that heats the sensing portion, it is possible to detect the oxygen concentration even when the intake air volume is low (the exhaust gas temperature is low). When the air-fuel ratio becomes lean, the oxygen concentration in the exhaust gas is rich. The HO2 sensor informs the ECM that the post-TWC air-fuel ratio is lean (low voltage, i.e. less than 0.45 V). Conversely, when the air-fuel ratio is richer than the stoichiometric air-fuel level, the oxygen concentration in the exhaust gas becomes lean. The HO2 sensor informs the ECM that the post-TWC air-fuel ratio is rich (high voltage, i.e. more than 0.45 V). The HO2 sensor has the property of changing its output voltage drastically when the air-fuel ratio is close to the stoichiometric level.

The ECM uses the supplementary information from the HO2 sensor to determine whether the air-fuel ratio after the TWC is rich or lean, and adjusts the fuel injection time accordingly. Thus, if the HO2 sensor is working improperly due to internal malfunctions, the ECM is unable to compensate for deviations in the primary air-fuel ratio control.

A115539E03

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