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Greenhouse emissions

Honda announces cleaner, "greener" diesel power train for automobiles

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: greenhouse emissions, Honda, diesel engines

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(NewsTarget) As carmakers race to find the next new technology that will meet the Tier II Bin 5 regulations that the United States plans to implement next year, representatives for Honda announced Monday that the company has developed a diesel power train that is as clean as a traditional gasoline-driven vehicle.

With gas prices continuing to climb, consumers are looking for gas-conscious alternatives to traditional gasoline-driven vehicles, but diesel engines, while about 30 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, tend to spew out greater amounts of the greenhouse gas nitrogen oxide (NOx).

The new technology relies on a system that generates and stores ammonia in a two-layer catalytic converter, and turns NOx into harmless nitrogen. DaimlerChrysler AG is already working on a similar process, but Honda says its own system is superior because it is not as complicated and does not require heavy add-ons to make ammonia from urea-based additives.

Honda notes the system is not 100-percent ready. It still needs fine-tuning for the wide range of cetane indices found in U.S. diesel, and a way to measure its own emissions to meet U.S. On-Board Diagnostic System Requirements. Honda announced it intends to make the technology available within three years, but DaimlerChrysler AG has stated it intends to release its next-generation diesel car -- created in partnership with Volkswagen -- by 2008.

"Just as we paved the way for cleaner gasoline engines, we will take the leadership in the progress of diesel engines," said Takeo Fukui, chief executive of Honda, adding that Honda might consider licensing its diesel technology once it has been perfected. Honda made waves in the auto world as early as 1973 by creating the CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion, eventually known simply as the Civic) engine, the first gasoline engine able to meet U.S. clean air guidelines without a catalytic converter.

As demand for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles increases, Honda has continued on its path at the vanguard of clean engine technology. After starting the ball rolling with the CVCC, Honda later joined Toyota at the forefront of gasoline-hybrid technology, and earlier this year, Honda became the first company in the world to announce voluntary reductions in its global carbon dioxide targets for its new products and production processes.


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