The use of laser-induced breakdown spectrometry (LIBS) for generating two-dimensional (2D) multielemental distribution maps of poisoning agents in automobile three-way catalysts (TWCs) is discussed. A complete in-depth analysis of P, Zn, and Pb at different locations along the central channel of a used TWC in the gas flow direction was performed. The distribution maps for the metals in charge of the catalytic action and for the stabilizer of these metals - i.e., Pt, Pd, and Ce - are also presented. The 2D maps provide a fast, useful, and intuitive tool to visualize the selective distribution of poisoning elements in a used TWC. This study may help explain the deterioration processes of a catalyst with a lifetime of about 30 000 km.
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