Black soot and harmful gases emitted from the exhaust of public buses and heavy vehicles operating on diesel engines seem set to reduce substantially, thereby not just reducing the overall air pollution but also improving the vehicles’ efficiency.
A team of city-based engine development experts, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and Central Institute for Road Transport (CIRT), are in the final stages of designing a dual fuel technology using ethanol capable of being blended with diesel separately at the time of combustion. A proposal in this regard was submitted to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in October and is awaiting the final nod.
Though research on the blending ethanol with diesel or petrol have been on and also partially in operations on pilot basis, the developers claim this dual fuel technology is being tried out for the first time in India. “The advantage of this technology will be that it can be used even in existing diesel engines, thereby directly cutting on the harmful emissions that largely contribute to air pollution in India,” said a senior scientist from the Powertrain Engineering (PTE) division of ARAI.
The additional cost incurred for either completely scrapping the engine-run vehicles or replacing engines can now be saved, the team said. Interestingly, the technology allows the use of variable blends of ethanol concentrations to be mixed with diesel, as per the requirement of the vehicle and the region or areas where it would mostly ply, yet another special feature which is novel among engine designs. The mechanism of the present-day diesel engines is based on ignition caused by the diesel-air mixture.
Explaining the working of this technology, a senior ARAI team member said, “There will not be a need for retrofitting or replacing the existing diesel engines. In this case, an additional storage facility for ethanol has been provided. It will regularly pump in this chemical compound (ethanol) with air which will blend with diesel directly and this mixture will be used at the time of combustion. Some of the early tests have shown significantly low emissions.”
The tests have also found that the technology can have very high adaptability into all kinds of diesel engines, be it cars, buses, trucks and other heavy transport vehicles. Despite this, auto experts aim to first introduce this technology for heavy vehicles and public buses, which are considered one of the top contributors to air pollution in Indian cities.