Super diesel technology cuts NOx emissions by 60%
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.

Kennington Slammersby July 17, 2017

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 the pile, after (current) diesels and petrols.

A. Kay July 17, 2017

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 know if they are suggesting this could be retro-fitted to older vehicles, or if it would only be practical for installation when building new vehicles. It's all too vague at the moment.


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 noise , not even considering the pollution stuff , just from a driving standpoint.
Move away from the diesel .

Marcus Brady July 16, 2017

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 exhaust gas. These are very expensive to install and maintain. They are not put in and used for kicks!!
Before some of you comment on the pollution of other forms of transport, check your facts!

    A. Kay July 17, 2017

    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 YOUR facts. Try watching programs such as the recent UK Channel 4 documentary "Dispatches: Secrets of Your Cruise". It may not be perfect, but it gives a good wake-up call to the average person who isn't aware of the issues.

david field July 15, 2017

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 July 15, 2017

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 and metro/tube prices to be reduced as they are used more, but because they are privately run, they are all about profiting from a captive market. The more of us forced to use trains and buses, the more captive a market it will become. Ask anyone who has had to put up with Southern's price increases since privatisation. They are all about cutting costs to increase shareholder profits hence the strikes regarding taking guards off trains. I believe that Red Diesel is illegal in non-industrial vehicles because it is not taxed as high and they will not properly develop engines that use vegetable oils because every country can produce it breaking the monopolies that prosper. We will all one day have electric cars and they will be taxed at the same rates once the markets are flooded. In short, if it's good for the environment, we should embrace it because personal transport will always be expensive.

Robyn Gruffydd July 15, 2017

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 of how much they pollute.
Yet another little known polluter - cows - yes dairy cows. There was an article only this week in the BBC online news about the amount of methane from cow flatulence. An estimated 10% of greenhouse gases come from cow flatulence. (not sure what the percentage is for humans!!)
I think other commentators are spot on in that the government is seizing on diesel cars because they are so much more efficient than petrol in mpg and thus producing less tax revenue.
Maybe their next wheeze will be a cow pollution tax

Terry Hudson July 15, 2017

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 July 15, 2017

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 throw plastic into the ocean. All everyone can do is their 'little bit' to postpone the inevitable. I (at 80) have spent a lifetime in science and engineering (and latterly in Psychology) and had a good life.
I wish you younger folk a fulfilled lifestyle.

John Watkins July 15, 2017

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 July 15, 2017

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 July 15, 2017

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 are especially harmful. This is clearly not the /only/ measure that needs to be taken to make diesel relatively clean.

In answer to the person who suggested vegetable oil as fuel, you need to look at the whole picture, not just the exhaust pipe! Large areas of land would have to be changed from food production to fuel production, at a time when we are struggling to feed everybody, and the market for palm oil is resulting in huge areas of rainforest being cleared for its production, which is far more harmful to the planet than the alternatives.

Jeremy English July 15, 2017

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 EVs have a significant presence on our roads. They won't subsidise this new technology from Continental if it improves diesel consumption as well as reduce its emissions.

    Kerry Jones July 15, 2017

    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 July 15, 2017

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 .

    Rodney Elliot July 15, 2017

    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 are the still modest claims for lower fuel consumption (where have we heard that before?) but, as ever, there has to be a price to pay and I suspect that will be for the vehicle on-board equipment upgrade for the 48v supply and for what will almost inevitably be a more expensive CC. One has to hope that 'luxury' will not be the preserve of only those who can afford the most expensive cars.

    There is of course that other still very thorny question of what about those of us who, based on deeply flawed government recommendations (again, how often has that level of official incompetence happened?) opted for diesel cars all of those years ago on that bad advice. Many of us no longer need to change our cars so frequently any more (especially as a well maintained diesel is good to 200k miles, if not more!) because of our relatively low mileages, no longer being 'image' or 'fashion' conscious and with our having cars which will so obviously be fit for (our) purpose for many years. We are not a fringe minority. We are a substantial sector in the motoring markets. However, we are in grave danger of having a scrappage policy forced upon us for no better purpose than that of political expediency (since when has the London mayor been an automotive engineering 'expert'?) What's more, the fact is that governments are seeming quite incapable of applying reasoned logic.

    It has therefor to occur to one that the 48v CC is unlikely to be a solution for those with existing and perfectly serviceable relatively low mileage diesel cars. That which is needed is for the fuel processing industry to get its act together and come up with a modified (or cleaned?) version of diesel fuel (and I don't mean modified cooking oil!) which can be readily used in existing so called 'dirty' diesels. There may be a cost factor at the pump, but probably no worse than the current almost pointless 'super' diesels and those of us who are conscious of the polluting effects of our cars could then at least rest moderately easily in a knowledge that we are doing our bit without being forced into a new car purchase. Of course, one having to pay a premium price for car fuel is always a bitter pill to swallow, but the bonus to society from that would, may be (just may be!) it concentrate one's mind that little bit more on unnecessary car use. (I observe my neighbours who I now believe to have no legs!)

    Incidentally, in all of this ' vehicle pollution' argument, what part is played by the persistent changing of 'old' cars for new for no better purpose than that of having something on one's drive to try to impress the neighbours, or boast about in the golf club bar? Is it not something of a paradoxical counter- production that governments will boast about a buoyant car industry with expanding sales when it is at the same time hammering us over the head with pollution policies? On the other hand, may be we shall end up with so many cars choking our streets it may become self regulatory because shall eventually be unable to move anywhere anyhow!!

Peter Metcalfe July 15, 2017

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 July 15, 2017

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 July 14, 2017

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 this would be much cheaper for all concerned and more "environmentally friendly" than a scrappage scheme.
Not only that, while I like the idea of electric vehicles with good range and fast charging, what seems to be being swept under the carpet is the environmental damage caused by the use of all the world's lithium and the increased power station emissions in generating the electricity.
Unfortunately, I cannot see the adoption of such a system taking place within a reasonable time period.

Alan Packer July 14, 2017

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 July 14, 2017

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 July 14, 2017

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

    john murgatroyd July 15, 2017

    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 July 16, 2017

      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!