New technology a must for producing clean fuel

It is not uncommon for Indian companies to encounter situations that require ingenious engineering combined with a uniquely Indian approach to problem solving. Automobile companies around the world have developed some exquisitely advanced diesel engine technologies, but Indian companies had to go one step ahead.

More than a decade ago, as Indian car manufacturersbegan improving their diesel engines, some of their customers tried to reverse their efforts by tampering with the controls to improve the torque. The adoption of common rail technology put an end to this tampering. It was the beginning of modern diesel engine technology.

Now, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week classified diesel exhaust as a carcinogen, Indian automobile industry faces an even tougher challenge to upgrade their technology. India uses the Bharat IV norms, which is similar to the Euro IV regulations, but other developed countries have gone ahead significantly.

Euro V norms for diesel engines, now in force in Europe, uses high- quality diesel combined with advanced pollution control devices in vehicles to reduce the exhaust to a near-clean level. The Indian automobile companies, on the other hand, are struggling with taxation and unsustainable cost increases. “A long-term policy on automotive fuel is a burning requirement for the country’s health and well being,” said VG Ramakrishnan, senior director, automotive practice, Frost & Sullivan.

Diesel has come a long way from the early years to the technology which is available on BS IV vehicles today. There is still further potential to improve the pollutants from diesel vehicles provided the right fuel is available for reduction of particulates significantly. “We believe that diesel has a lot of potential in improving the energy security and global CO2 emissions and as a technology should not be disregarded,” says IV Rao, Maruti Suzuki’s managing executive officer (engineering). “There is however a concern on the health impact from diesel exhaust as raised by WHO, which has to do with fuel specifications as well.”

So the difference in technology in India and developed countries is the nitrous oxide and particulate matter (diesel particulate filter a standard fitment in all vehicles in Europe). Initially, Indian car companies were lto adhere to euro 5 standards by 2015, now it is most likely to be 2017, people close to the development said. Automobile companies, however, deny that there is a problem.

“We are not aware of any credible studies that link diesel emissions to health risks,” says P Balendran, vice-president, General Motors India. “The new technology diesel engines being offered today, which use ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel, advanced engine and emissions control systems, have near zero emissions of particulate matter.” He claims that diesel engine exhausts have been reduced by 99 per cent with new technology.

(curtsey: economic times)

Rupesh Yatesh Dalal
Head Research Department

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