Exciting Results for SCR Technology
Readers of our newsletter already know that last week I had the privilege of representing Automotive IQ at two of our related conferences: Selective Catalytic Reduction and Advanced Emission Control Concepts for Gasoline Engines. It was terrific fun to meet and speak with such a knowledgeable group of people and it was exciting to get a sense of how much effort and investment is being made to drastically reduce vehicle emissions. One particularly inspiring bit of information came from the diesel side where we learned that it is possible to achieve 0.02 gr/mile Nox with a DOC and wall flow SCR brick over a US FTP test. That's an astounding result.
Compared to Europe, diesel engines are not nearly as common in passenger cars in the U.S. but perhaps that will change given that such outstanding emissions results are possible. Diesel engines are already very fuel efficient and if that could be combined with ultra-low emissions, diesel may have a bright future. Nevertheless, the transportation sector has to reduce its dependency on oil in the long run.
I am still hopeful that alternative powertrain solutions will begin to gain traction in the market but this will not happen without one of two things changing: either we all need to drastically rethink the way in which we use our cars or alternative powertrains need to provide the same range and convenience of traditional internal combustion engines. There are concepts being put into practice currently that would accomplish the latter. For example, researchers are working on range extender concepts utilizing fuel cells to be used in hybrid electric vehicles. Those cars would be able to be refilled with hydrogen in a few minutes (similar to current fill-up times for a gasoline/diesel vehicle). Perhaps technologies will emerge that we haven't yet thought of. It's hard to pick a winner when it comes to innovations.
Could ultra low emission diesel engines provide the answer as a cost-effective technology that fills the gap until green technologies are able to provide the convenience that drivers are used to?