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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Land & marine transports > Art Dexa - exhausting all possible avenues
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Art Dexa - exhausting all possible avenues

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.

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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.

Road block

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 diesel exhaust.

“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,” he notes.

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 2007."

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.

Road block
Driving to market

Key data

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.


Art Dexa - Advanced Regeneration Technologies for Diesel Particulate Aftertreatment (G3RD-CT-1999-00016).


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