Modern diesel engines are in pole
position in the carbon emission stakes and offer a feasible path to reducing
pollution. However, there’s a snag. They produce other pollutants
that are above the levels of upcoming EU regulations. The Art-Dexa project
has steered its way around this challenge.
As we race towards the Kyoto deadlines, engineers
on the Art-Dexa project believe that diesel will help propel Europe towards
its CO2 emissions targets without curbing its citizens’ mobility.
“Significant reductions in CO2 emissions
can be achieved through an increased deployment of the modern highly efficient
direct-injection diesel engine in the transportation sector, provided
that the main barrier to a wide-spread diffusion of this efficient propulsion
system will be overcome” Art-Dexa said in a recent progress report.
The main barrier
holding up the spread of these engines is the amount of nitrogen
oxides and potentially carcinogenic particulates they emit. Art-Dexa
– which involves the Fiat Research Centre and other players
in the automotive industry – has designed a system for treating
“In order to achieve future diesel engine
emission levels, the application of a diesel particulate filter
system (trap) will be necessary,” explains Marco Federico
Pidria, head of Emissions After-treatment Group at the Fiat laboratories.
Pidria says the system eliminates more than
95% of particulate emissions, as well as NOx discharges via engine
management, to bring them in line with upcoming EU regulations.
Under the ‘Euro 3’ regulations, which came into force
in 2000, these emissions had to be halved. In 2005, Euro 4 will
oblige manufacturers to trim another 50% off these discharges.
“The project was mainly focused on filters
to decrease particulate emissions. This kind of filter also allows
engineers to calibrate the engine to produce very low NOx emission
levels by soaking up the extra soot this process creates,”
||Driving to market
Art-Dexa has already
produced several prototype exhaust filters. The project's biggest
breakthrough was the development of its exclusive Multijet system
that regenerates the filtration system at any speed by burning the
collected particulates to clean the filter.
The research labs at Fiat and Renault have also
assembled two demonstration vehicles that employ the new filter
system. Art-Dexa believe that car manufactures will be able use
the technology to develop engines that comply with the limits before
they come into force in 2005.
"The project was of strategic importance to
the partners involved because it was able to develop and test prototypes
for robust diesel particulate filter technology," Pidria stresses.
Art-Dexa believes that this technology has great market potential
and forecasts that it may feature in more than 50% of diesel-powered
vehicles by 2010. "The achievement of future CO2 emission targets
will increase the proportion of diesel-fuelled cars on European
roads from 30% to 50% by 2010. The automotive industry could be
looking at a potential market of 7 million vehicles per year by
If this filtration technology fulfils its promise,
then it could help the auto industry and motorists out of a sticky
environmental dilemma. As a signatory to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol,
the EU is committed to reducing the emissions of six greenhouse
gases by 8% of the 1990 level by 2008-2012. However, if current
trends continue, emissions look set to increase. And the main culprit
is road traffic.
Research in the area of cleaner, more efficient
vehicle engines has been supported under the Growth Programme's
Land transport and
marine technologies key action.
Dexa - Advanced Regeneration Technologies for Diesel Particulate