Super diesel technology cuts NOx emissions by 60%

By Josh Elliott
News entry dated 12th Jul 2017

Headlines in the last few months have indicated that the days of diesel were coming to an end and that diesel vehicles were the main cause of pollution problems around the UK. However, an announcement by tyre company Continental has given hope for diesel fans that it might not be dead yet.

Super diesel technology developed in Germany by Continental indicates that auto-manufacturers will soon be able to make cars that deliver emission levels lower than current EU limits. So what is super diesel technology and how does it work?

(Credit – Pixabay)

Big announcement

Continental has said that its new ‘Super Clean Electrified Diesel’ technology can reduce real world emissions by some 60% and is the way forward for a cleaner, less polluting diesel fuel. Engineers at the company have developed a new after-treatment using electricity, which can reduce NOx emissions by almost two thirds under real world driving conditions. The company has said it is already in discussions with manufacturers about using the technology in their vehicles.

Johannes Dreschel, the development engineer for Continental, explained that the key for the new system was the use of an electrically heated catalytic converter that makes use of a 48V electrical system. Normally, a catalytic converter needs the engine to bring it up to temperature. However, this new tech uses electricity from the 48V system to get the power it needs to work.

Why this makes a difference

Why should this make a difference? Continental explains that because the catalytic converter uses electricity rather than the engine, it can heat up much faster. This means it provides a much more efficient reduction of NOx emissions.

Some current converters have an electronically heated element that uses a 12V system but the new larger, 48V system allows the devices to work far more quickly. In addition to using more power, the company’s engineers have also made subtle amendments to the after-treatment system. These include injecting the AdBlue urea solution to the exhaust immediately, without the use of a separate mixer (as is currently common practice).

(Credit – Pixabay)

Testing the process

In testing, the company took an existing Volkswagen Golf and changed the system from a 12V to a 48V one.  It then tested the car under the forthcoming real driving emissions (RDE) cycle. The results showed 60% lower NOx levels than in the standard vehicle without the modifications. It also saw a 3% fall in CO2 emissions and a 4% increase in overall fuel economy.

Another live test involved taking the modified Golf onto Continental’s German test track. A Portable Emissions Measurement System (PEMS) was fitted to the back of the car in order to track the emissions. The car was then taken for a test run, including reaching motorway speed levels. The NOx emissions were recorded at 60mg/km, which is well below the current EU limit of 80mg/km.

Brighter future?

Dreschel strongly believes that diesel cars have a role to play in the future of motoring, but admits that they need to be cleaner. The technology developed by Continental is one of the ways that diesel vehicles can do this, allowing diesel to have a future.

The technology helps to highlight that there are ways to make diesel cars friendlier to the environment. Combined with measures to look at other causes of emissions, the situation of premature deaths from poor air quality could be controlled. This could be achieved without the need to eliminate the diesel vehicle (as some campaigners have suggested would be required).

Governments and pressure groups are pushing ahead with a one-dimensional approach to tackling pollution through banning petrol and diesel vehicles and pushing for electric charge vehicles (EVs). The fundamental problem with this is it will take years for EVs to replace combustion engines. A more pragmatic approach would be to make diesel and petrol engines as clean as possible while rolling out EVs, which do appear to be the future. At present, however, it seems that demonising combustion engines is easier than finding solutions to drastically cut emissions.

What do you think about this super diesel technology? Do you think it should be rolled out as soon as possible or even retro-fitted onto vehicles at no charge? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

59 Comments on "Super diesel technology cuts NOx emissions by 60%"

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Kennington Slammersby
Kennington Slammersby
With current technology, promoting electric vehicles is totally counterproductive where protection of the environment is concerned. The amount of resources consumed and waste products produced for each electric vehicle made is staggering, not to mention the major difficulties encountered when the time comes to dispose of them. There needs to be less focus on environmental impact during use and more focus on environmental impact over the lifespan of the vehicle, from the day it joins the production line to the day the last piece of it is scrapped. If this were the approach then electric vehicles would be bottom of… Read more »
Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings
Where is your EVIDENCE for all your sweeping statements denigrating electric cars? We all know in our heart of hearts that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Even if half of what you claim is true we cannot avoid the fact that crude oil is a finite resource that we are using up at rapid rate. On the other hand electricity from renewables is practically unlimited. Electric cars, essentially battery technology, are still in their infancy with many promising advances currently in the lab stage. An electric car is fundamentally a much simpler vehicle. It requires the… Read more »
A. Kay
A. Kay
I’m not sure of the relevance of this being a 48V system. It’s not the Voltage which determines the quantity of heat emission, it’s the Power. The power could just as easily be increased by lowering the resistance of the heating elements (thus increasing current) or increasing the number of elements used in parallel. This would allow the system to still be run off the 12V battery, rather than requiring expensive conversion to 48V. It sounds as if there’s more to this story which we are not being told, which might explain the use of 48V. I’d also like to… Read more »
GORDON MCALLISTER
GORDON MCALLISTER
With the development of small light petrol engines like the Ford ecoboost and the Turbo VAG why would anyone actually want a Diesel engine in a passenger car especially a small hatchback which is what the majority of people drive today. Have never been tempted to buy a diesel car and it now makes less sense than ever. Diesel for bulldozers , trucks and maybe large vans but in a fiesta ? a swift? Why would you. A few mpg in some cases surely can’t compensate for the downsides of weight , narrow power band , low revs , horrible… Read more »
Marcus Brady
Marcus Brady
Too many ill informed contributors. True, ships do pollute more per mile than cars. However, there is NO more economical way of transporting good (or people, for the cruise ship haters). And who was it saying there are no rules governing pollution form ships? Get your facts straight. The IMP (look it up) had regulated emissions from ships for many years. Current regulations are stricter than ever and specific fuel consumption of the large diesel engines is fast superior to whatever car you drive with an internal combustion engine. Many cruise ships have scrubbers that remove ALL NOx from the… Read more »
John Francis
John Francis

Funny how you spot a mistake in your calculation just after you’ve pressed SEND.
3/4 of 81,600 is, of course, 61,200 which equates to 816 cars.
Gets better by the minute.
Perhaps by tomorrow it will have reduced even further.

John Francis
John Francis
Sorry Marcus but ships’ scrubbers remove Sulphur oxides and particulates, not NOx. As most residual fuels have about 3% Sulphur in them it was thought to be cheaper to remove SOx from exhaust gas than remove sulphur from the fuel. From what I’ve read, it hasn’t been too successful. Then there’s another problem. Sea or fresh water is used to scrub the exhaust then pumped overboard. The SOx in the exhaust mixes with the water and produces sulphuric and sulphurous acids so the discharge is acidic, polluting the seas unless NaOH is injected which neutralises. EU waters and many other… Read more »
A. Kay
A. Kay
Yes, it’s really important that the bloated, self-indulgant, wealthier people of society be allowed to lounge around on sun-decks, getting drunk & over-fed whilst their 1 cruise ship emits particulate matter equivalent to 1 million cars. Their circular, aimless journeys are so important to us all. NOT. And don’t be naive enough to think that the legislation is effective. Scrubbers have been bypassed by the ship’s workers. Many laws don’t come into effect for many years. And what laws there are, often only apply to the vessels whilst on certain areas of the seas & oceans. You need to check… Read more »
david field
david field

All fuels burned to produce power cause pollution. Whether it’s to power a car or heat a house. All burning fuels give out co2. Some ways of burning give co. some give nox. Even burning wood!!
why can’t we burn hydrogen for our fuel, polluting with water vapour???
I suspect that because it’s so easy to produce anywhere there is electricity that there would be no commercial profit as you could make your own!!
Hydrogen is the only clean fuel. No co, co2 no nox. Other than water vapour, no pollution.

P Solomon
P Solomon
We all should know that we must do something about the environmental issues associated with diesel. We know that when it is combusted in vehicles, it emits harmful gases. I drive a TDi and I love it for all round performance and economy but it is now becoming as expensive as a petrol car would be to run, bearing in mind the greater cost of servicing etc. The problem lies with government attitude to transport in general. They see vehicles as an easy taxation route, forcing some people onto public transport. As a result, one might expect rail tram bus… Read more »
Robyn Gruffydd
Robyn Gruffydd
Its interesting how diesel cars are always seen to be the problem of pollution and greenhouse gases etc. As is commented cruise ships, large trucks (esp fro the continent) share a lot of the blame. However there are a lot of other polluters some far worse. Construction machinery e.g. dump trucks, diggers, bulldozers etc. Newer ones are not so bad but there is a LOT of older equipment belching out fumes. Diesel trains – look down on passing train roofs from a railway bridge and see the thick black areas on the roofs round exhaust pipes that give an idea… Read more »
Terry Hudson
Terry Hudson

When are people going to realise this is not just about diesel cars.
This is just another facet of the ‘War on the Driver’ which has been carried out over the last three decades by the usual menagerie of ‘Green’ groups and ill informed (or just plain hypocrites) politicians.
Lazy journalists who cannot be bothered to do any research, have just gone along with it and published it as ‘facts’.
All councils have some form of ‘Active Travel Plan’ which is about getting people ‘out of their cars’ and into ‘Cycling & Walking’.
Your mobility choice is being stolen.

Jack Pashley
Jack Pashley
Lots of tinkering technical solutions that may make a marginal difference but the only real solution is population reduction. At the moment polluting mass transport is the aspiration of billions of underemployed. Will virtual reality ever replace this desire? I suspect not as part of the problem is ‘crowd’ seeking, rather that the experience itself. Maybe population control might also cut down the plethora of incomprehensible ‘cold calls’ from ‘workers’ in ‘developing’ countries. We are fulfilling the prophesies of ‘1984’. Beware further conflict! I would be very happy to pay for any modifications to my diesel, but then, I don’t… Read more »
John Watkins
John Watkins

As an environmental champion, I think its fantastic news; but let’s face it, the Ultra Green Get All Cars Off The Road brigade would still complain if cars gave off Milk and Honey! There is NO pleasing them, and they won’t be happy until we are all forced to have to walk or ride push bikes (I doubt even horses will be acceptable because they might just produce Methane)!

Bobbie Nuciforo
Bobbie Nuciforo

It is far too technical for me to understand but I think anything that reduces pollution should be done immediately and at the cost to the manufacturer and not the customer.

Andrew Rowland
Andrew Rowland
Two things the article didn’t mention: 1. Cost. How much will it cost to convert a car from 12V to 48V, given that all the equipment in cars is currently expected to run off 12V? Or will an additional battery and charger need to be added (and where would it fit)? I suspect that this is a technology that can only practically be considered for new vehicles or perhaps very high mileage ones. 2. Particulates. NO² is not the only form of harmful pollution that diesel generates — there is also CO² for example — and it is particulates that… Read more »
Jeremy English
Jeremy English
As ever, the Government uses smoke and mirrors to confuse the public and to gain what it wants, i.e., control. Diesels can be made more less polluting as Continental have shown and others have revealed in their replies. Diesels could, of course, be made to run on vegetable oils with minimal emissions and renewable energy at that. All the Government is interested in is getting rid of diesels because they use less fuel than petrol and thus raise less tax. Electric vehicles will soon become the enemy when Whitehall wakes up to the fact that they are “losing” revenue once… Read more »
Kerry Jones
Kerry Jones

Spot on with regards tax. What Car true MPG, for my driving style in my new Clio 1.5 dci is about 60mpg the 0.9 tce is about 40mpg.Tax per gallon of fuel is around £2.63, so for every 60 miles that I drive I pay £2.63 but the 0.9 tce uses a further half a gallon to do 60 miles which is around £1.30 lost in tax per 60 miles,so or course the government will be anti diesel.

Cyril Levy
Cyril Levy

Applause to Continental , a job well done . Whilst this is great for future cars consideration must be given to the many , many motorists who followed government guide lines to buy diesel as the way forward. There should be a scheme to retro fit this modification and it should be paid for by the government for all vehicles purchased after their announcement to buy diesel cars .
Cyril

Rodney Elliot
Rodney Elliot
Don’t get too excited! As well as being a motorist I have been a mechanical engineer for all of my working life, although I am now retired. I have always been fascinated by innovation and I have to say the information on the Continental ‘electric’ cat. converter (CC) reads as being a fascinating concept. However, in this world one cannot obtain ow’t for now’t (as a general rule!) and to pre-heat the CC with a 48v electrical supply certainly has to fall into that category. The reduced NOx emission are, one may surmise, readily verifiable, as indeed one would hope… Read more »
Peter Metcalfe
Peter Metcalfe

I support the concept of the technology delevoped by Continental. It was the Governemnet of the day that took us down the desiel path and I think they have a responsibility to explore this new development. As the owner of diesel XF Jaguar which I bought from new I would like to see the Government at least explore the possibility of retrofitting the cars of those, who lets face it, were only following Government advice when they purchased their car.
Peter Metcalfe

Colin Ride
Colin Ride

I am currently driving my 2nd diesel car and I’m very pleased with it. Keeping spark plugs working in bad weather and as cars got older was a problem for me. I will be glad to see diesel pollution defeated by better technology. The criticism is always aimed at diesel car owners and never at the elephants in the room – TRUCKS. We should work hard at cleaning these vehicles exhausts and clean cars will naturally follow.

John Strain
John Strain
Sounds brilliant to me but it needs to be affordable. I have a 3.5 year old diesel Passat estate with only 13500 miles done. It has had the VW fix and so far has no ill effects from it. I love the car but the future of diesel does concern me since I do not wish and do not have the funds to change the car. I have long thought – rather than ditch diesel which has many advantages – why cannot the emissions be reduced through a technological improvement? It seems to me that Government funding of something like… Read more »
Alan Packer
Alan Packer

Tv report the other day stated it takes 1 million cars to produce the same polution as ONE cruise ship produces in ONE day.
So stop slating cars.

Mike Linham
Mike Linham

This is a little behind the times – my Audi diesel is currently emitting ZERO NOx due to the Adblue technology. However, it is very good to see that there is work continuing to make Diesel more user friendly and can lead to the end of the bad news stories.

Chris Richmond
Chris Richmond

this sounds very good, its ok saying make all vehicles electric but unless they can make self charging or solar power charging. there no different to petrol or diesel. as they either have a petrol engine to charge or run with or plug into the national grid this is mostly powered with coal gas rubbish or nuclear. or am i wrong

Peter Lattimer
Peter Lattimer

plus all the pollution mining all the ores required to produce the batteries which have to be replaced every few years at a cost of a few grand, and those pollutants are far greater, from what little I understand, than that of ”our current petrol or diesel engine cars

john murgatroyd
john murgatroyd

Currently, the UK only uses coal only as a backup. The majority of UK electricity is from gas. With the backbone generation being nuclear at a constant 8GW. Wind contributes an average of 3.5GW and solar around the same.

Anthony White
Anthony White

True that nuclear is the core production of Electricity.
However, there are major transmission losses in electricity and this is true of the gas and coal backup as well as nuclear. There is also the problem of disposing of nuclear waste safely. We ignore this when we call for EVs and fool ourselves if we say they are pollution free – they just pollute somewhere else!

John Tedder
John Tedder

Clearly it is the heavy vehicles such as trucks trains and ships which are the greatest polluters and it will be a very long time before these can be completely replaced by electric or hydrogen equivalents. But these would be the easiest to adapt to this new Continental solution. I suggest this information should be forwarded to the various MP’s who are heading up the anti diesel campaign.

Vinnie Millard
Vinnie Millard

Hi John, take a close look at UK delivery Trucks and Busses, you may well find that most of them run on renewables. However large HGV Intercontinental Haulage Vehicles do belch a lot of Black smoke! Perhaps they should have a levy on entering the UK? I can’t comment on trains as all of ours in EK are Electric.

Anthony White
Anthony White

Where is EK please?

Anthony White
Anthony White

Is it East Kent?

john murgatroyd
john murgatroyd

Trucks pollution per litre of fuel, is lower than cars. There is no limitation on ship pollution.

Kevin Cottrell
Kevin Cottrell

Perhaps the choice of a VW as the test vehicle for this was not the best idea!

Marcus Brady
Marcus Brady

Where do you get the info that there is no limit on ship pollution?
That is so wrong it’s laughable!

Chris Peacock
Chris Peacock

If the figures from this study really are correct then this is all very good, but yet again the attention seems to be on the small private vehicle, when the bulk of all traffic pollution comes from medium to large commercial vehicles.

I see a future where us private motorists are confined financially to driving out of necessity only, in miserable little automated electric vehicles, whilst the haulage industry continues to fill our motorways and pollute the air at will with noxious diesel fumes because doing something about that instead is less practical and would “hurt industry”.

James Finlay
James Finlay

DI Petrols also have a particulate problem vs the Indirect Injection designs. GPF’s are needed as well – but Diesel gets the Political attention. Cold running means the emission control systems are not functioning at their optimum… so Continental’s thinking is the obvious route to go. Would there also perhaps be a measure whereby an engine cannot fire up initially until the cat temperature has been reached?

I gather Mazda are introducing a Diesel engine where Adblue is not needed to meet Euro 6. This seems a good base to work from..

john barker
john barker
I have always kept an eye on various Kits that use the Browns Gas theory, ie using an electrolyte to generate hydrogen from water, which is then used to add to the fuel pre- combustion. This reduces emmissions, increases mpg and helps to clean the engine and make it more efficient. I have used a method of cleaning the intake to the combustion process using water from a spray, which did make a tremendous difference to my high mileage Audi, which previously belched black smoke continuously, and I did not think it was possible but 18 months on it is… Read more »
Michael Coyle
Michael Coyle
If the alternator is required to increase the voltage supply (12 volts to 48 volts) will this increase the parasitic losses and hence cause a deterioration in fuel consumption? I can see advantages in stop-start conditions where the NOx treatment system does not get hot enough. However, on a longer journey once the system is hot enough where is the advantage and added value of this system? Whilst anything that reduces emissions should be looked upon favourably that does not mean it its validity and efficacy should not be questioned. For example, how does improving the efficiency of the catalytic… Read more »
Nick Moore
Nick Moore
Thinking retrofitting you wouldn’t need to change the alternator but you need a slight adjustment to the battery packs. Aside from the main battery you need additional 3 smaller batteries wired in series to the main battery to get the 48 Volt required to preheat the cat. (Has to be done on battery as the alternator needs the engine to be running!). The alternator at 12 V charges these batteries individually in parallel. Once up to temp the cat won’t require much additional power from the additional ‘cat startup’ circuit. I would think any large extra cost would come from… Read more »
John Stott
John Stott

I don’t really see how a post combustion process can improve fuel consumption (improved fuel consumption is all to do with the internal combustion efficiency).
So claims of improved fuel consumption suggest an element of ambiguity/credibility of their results. Maybe they need to look at their data again.

Peter Johnston
Peter Johnston

I read some where that petrol contributed 8% NOx, Diesel (cars) 11%. So not the major polluters. NOx reduction should be across the board to have a larger effect and not targeted at one source.

Gerald Brady
Gerald Brady

This looks like a great idea. I wonder what it would cost to modify a car. Perhaps it would make more economic sense that a scrappage deal.

Norman Howe
Norman Howe
If they want vehicles to produce less emissions it’s simple make vehicles run leaner and more efficient then they won’t produce as much emissions. Make vehicles that won’t burn as much fuel and can go further on a tank then they can’t produce as many harmful emissions. But they won’t do that as the car firms are in league with the oil firms and the government would loose a lot on fuel tax. What have the car firms been doing all these years. We have known for many years that vehicle emissions were bad for us which why they invented… Read more »
bob davy
bob davy

Here in Southampton they are probably going to charge for Diesel cars to enter the town.
BUT what about the cruise ships that belch out C02 and particutates 24 hours a day, even while moored or docked. 1 CRUISE LINER produces the SAME AMOUNT of C02 as A MILLION CARS. ( Source = Channel4 Dispatches “Secrets of your Cruise” 03/07/2017)

c leo
c leo
There is a real danger of ineffective environmentalism from an ill advised government again If latest report from Sweden is correct and the manufacture of batteries for a typical EV produce 17.5 tonnes of CO2, or the equivalent of 8 years driving a combustion engine. The change to EVs may help with clean air issues caused by dirty diesels but they would only exacerbate CO2 emissions – not joined up thinking. Beyond CO2 this doesn’t consider the damage to water sources as the rare earth metals needed for batteries are extracted in ever greater quantities jeopardising arable land in many… Read more »
David Bishop
David Bishop

Retro fitted free of charge to any vehicle with less than 50K on it, would mean that for the remaining 150K of engine life, it would be cleaner.
Put pressure on NOW.

Chris Paulin
Chris Paulin

I walk along the railway line into Penzance and the trains sit stationary for long periods with their engines running. Chucking out lots if pollution.Not always the motorists fault!

Al Mill
Al Mill

I would like to see a study on how much diesel private car owners uses compared to all the other diesel vehicles , including ships . These figures might even be already known
Car owners seem to get a kicking every time.

Andrew Gatehouse
Andrew Gatehouse
I agree with the comment as regards the cost implications; as someone thinking of changing vehicles (and yes, I would like a diesel hybrid but don’t have the usage to justify the cost of one) I for one would welcome the chance of reducing my emissions – but could my 2009 Fiat 1.275 litre unit be retro-fitted with this new equipment? and if so, at what cost? Getting commercial vehicle fleets fitted would obviously be welcomed too; as would persuading train companies not to have diesel units idling for long periods before their trains depart. Someone has to be the… Read more »
Michel Souris
Michel Souris

A 60% reduction in carcinogenic diesel emissions is not nearly enough. We know that diesels typically emit twenty times the already generous Euro 6 allowances in real world driving. The only answer is to scrap every diesel powered vehicle now.

Paul Snowden
Paul Snowden

If all vehicles are going to be EV`s,what strain is this going to put on the electricity supply industry and the pollution caused by the extra demand ?
What happened to the development of the Hydrogen powered vehicle ?

paul gibbons
paul gibbons
Has “Mr Ohm’s” famous law been forgotten? There’s nothing magical about a 48V heater vs a normal 12V one (or even a 1V one) it’s power that gets the job done, not just voltage! The only practical advantage of a 48V system is that the wires going from the alternator to the Cat heater can be thinner, hence lighter and cheaper. Reading between the waffle in this article, it appears to work by geting the Cat up to temperature more quickly than relying on the usual self-heating by exhaust gasses. This is all well and good, but taxis, busses and… Read more »
Alan Barnes
Alan Barnes
I agree with Ian ,John and Ian.The real “elephant” in the room is commercial vehicles and public transport, as well as shipping etc.In fact anything which used diesel engine technology.The press and government are always using the CAR when reporting on emissions.Of course , like most other stuff, it is easier to focus on the things which are right in front of you as well as making the private motorist feel guilty and therefore be prepared to accept the guilt/cost of the “bean counters” who are in charge these days it seams. I would like to see the actual fuel… Read more »
Melvyn Bunting
Melvyn Bunting

I have often thought that the answer to the emissions problem lies in fuel treatments and filtration. If this type of equipment can be retro fitted, a government grant to individuals in place of, or alongside of a car scrappage scheme, may encourage a take-up level sufficient to make a significant difference to pollution.

It is regrettable that mainstream media does not appear to be interested in publishing stories like this, which leads to widespread ignorance and hysteria caused by the influence of ‘green’ propaganda.

Ian Plant
Ian Plant

So – once theyve fixed the diesel CARS problem, WHEN will they tackle the REAL Polluters – Trucks and Trains? Oh, I thought not.

John Topham
John Topham

Interesting article, but instead of repeating itself several times, a comment on how the 48v was obtained and of course the cost implication would have been good.

Ian Morris
Ian Morris

These should be retro fitted to all buses and trains, government funded schemes for HGV’s, and schemes to help Taxi drivers get them would be a good idea too. These are the vehicles on the road/rails all day causing the most polution.

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