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'Diesel saving' tech could be available by 2020



Scandal and controversy have dogged diesel engine technology in recent years. Largely because of their toxic NOx emissions. However, this could be about to change thanks to a team of researchers from the University of Loughborough, UK who have developed a simple, affordable solution to limit the emissions of NOx from diesel engines.

The system, called ACCT (ammonia creation and conversion technology), has the potential to facilitate ‘virtually zero-emission’ diesel engines and is being hailed by industry experts as potentially an even more important development than the common-rail diesel.
Professor Graham Hargrave and Research Associate Jonathan Wilson are the duo behind the new ACCT tech.
(Image via Loughborough University).

How does it work?

Put simply, the system converts AdBlue, a urea-based after-treatment, into a special ammonia-rich ‘ACCT fluid’ under accurately controlled conditions in an exhaust-mounted chamber.

Similar to selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, it then utilises the freed ammonia ‘literally to rip NOx apart’, leaving only nitrogen and water. The important difference with ACCT fluid though, is that it keeps working at high efficiency in low exhaust temperature conditions that challenge current SCR systems.

Professor Graham Hargrave, who has developed the technology in collaboration with Research Associate Jonathan Wilson, explains the rationale for ACCT:

“We are all familiar with the ‘cold start’, where diesel vehicles spew out plumes of toxic emissions before their catalytic systems are up to temperature and able to work effectively.”

“Unfortunately, with many vehicles doing short stop/start journeys, such as buses and construction vehicles, many engines never reach the optimal temperature required for the SCR systems to operate efficiently. The result is excessive NOx being released into the urban environment, especially in large cities.”

“Our system enables the SCR systems to work at much lower temperatures- as low as 60◦C. This means that the NOx reduction system remains active through the whole real world driving cycle, leading to significant reductions in tailpipe emissions.”

But can’t we just switch to electric motors? Not so, according to Jonathan Wilson:

“No viable alternative to the diesel engine currently exists for the heavy-duty market and is going to be in use for many more years. Systems are needed now that tackle NOx emissions, to help reduce the number of air pollution related deaths and enable vehicle manufacturers to meet the ever-reducing emissions targets set by the government. ACCT is the answer.”
The implementation of ACCT technology could go a long way to improving public health.
(Image via Loughborough University).

Improving public health

In 2015, the UK government estimated that exposure to NOx and particulate matter emissions from diesel engines lead to around 52,000 additional deaths in the UK. NOx emissions are also the primary cause of smog in major cities around the world and a growing public health concern.

With commercialisation activity already underway to bring the ACCT technology to market, the much-maligned diesel engine could be about to be thrown a lifeline…

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'Diesel saving' tech could be available by 2020 - Time to read 3 min
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