Sci-Tech

Internal combustion filters: what if cars improved city air instead of made it worse? – Economics

Sounds like an absurd utopia: Cars drive by and clean the air in the city. They filter pollutants, such as fine particles, from the atmosphere. The filter can be aerodynamically shaped to replace the spoiler on the roof of the truck driver’s cab, to integrate under the truck body or into the bumper. Vehicles that are often used in metropolitan areas where particulate matter is a problem are: city buses, refuse collection vehicles, vans and taxis.

A filter specialist, Mann und Hummel from Ludwigsburg, is working on this utopia. The company, with 22,000 employees worldwide, has already developed its first prototypes. The technology is to be developed to serial maturity this year. Financial support from the European Commission helps. According to information from our newspaper, the European Commission is subsidizing a two-year feasibility study of filtration technology from Mann and Hummel in the amount of 1.5 million euros.

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Fine tire dust

MEP Norbert Lins (CDU) ensured that the European Parliament supported the pilot project and proposed financial support to the European Commission. The Commission has given the green light. Florian Keller of Mann und Hummel explains that particulate air pollution in the city remains a problem, although more and more electric vehicles are on the road: “Although battery-powered vehicles no longer emit carbon dioxide, the main cause of fine dust is brakes and tires as well as abrasion from the sidewalk. ”

Tire manufacturers and suppliers that make brakes have made significant progress in reducing emissions. However, fleet replacement is too slow to meet air quality requirements in city centers. This requires new technologies.

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In addition, while the EU only regulated pollutant emissions from cars with internal combustion engines on the exhaust, there could also be limit values ​​for fine dust from brakes and tires in the future. Appropriate considerations were raised during the first planning of the next stage of EU-7 pollutant regulation.

Serial production guaranteed since 2021

On the one hand, a particulate filter for brake dust must be offered. The filter material is attached to trap particles as soon as they appear where the brake lining meets the brake disc. This technology is possible for all types of vehicles. Commercially available brakes have enough space to install the filter. The brake particulate filter is ready for series production. As early as 2021, Mann and Hummel were able to guarantee the production of more than 100,000 pieces. The price also speaks in favor of technology: to equip a vehicle with a particulate filter, the owner must calculate a cost of less than 200 euros.

In addition, Mann and Hummel work on a filter that actively sucks up fine dust from the surrounding air. This technology can be placed on the roof of the bus, under the trunk of a van or in the bumper of a truck. Thanks to the solution in the bumper, the company wants to ensure that the behavior in the event of an accident does not change and that the filter captures at least as many fine particles as the vehicle itself emits. This filter has not yet been developed for series production.

Part of an EU-funded project is also to find out if technology has what it needs to export. The purpose of laboratory and road tests is to find out to what extent emissions can be reduced and whether filters are practical. At least 20 vehicles of different sizes must be checked on the road in at least three European cities. Lins has high hopes: “If we can filter pollutants such as fine dust directly onto the vehicle, we can implement the European Commission’s zero-emission strategy with open technology mobility without compromising the freedom of movement of individuals.” conflict of objectives between climate protection and combustion technology.

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