A catalytic converter has an inner canister that contains catalyst-coated substrates and an outer canister that encloses an annular, variable vacuum insulation chamber surrounding the inner canister. An annular tank containing phase-change material for heat storage and release is positioned in the variable vacuum insulation chamber a distance spaced part from the inner canister. A reversible hydrogen getter in the variable vacuum insulation chamber, preferably on a surface of the heat storage tank, releases hydrogen into the variable vacuum insulation chamber to conduct heat when the phase-change material is hot and absorbs the hydrogen to limit heat transfer to radiation when the phase-change material is cool. A porous zeolite trap in the inner canister absorbs and retains hydrocarbons from the exhaust gases when the catalyst-coated substrates and zeolite trap are cold and releases the hydrocarbons for reaction on the catalyst-coated substrate when the zeolite trap and catalyst-coated substrate get hot.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-98GO10337 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Division of Midwest Research Institute.