New Technology Could Reduce Vehicle Pollution

New Technology Could Reduce Vehicle Pollution

Engineers from The University of Texas at Austin College of Engineering and Ford Motor Company have patented a new technology aimed at reducing vehicle emissions by 50% or more. The new technology, called the on board distillation system, not only reduces hydrocarbon pollutants but promises to reduce all toxins emitted from cars by 80%.

Gasoline powered vehicles use more fuel when the key turns in the ignition -- and as the engine is warming up -- than when the vehicle has been running for a few minutes. Only vaporized gasoline burns -- the rest forms a puddle in the intake manifold and evaporates when the engine gets warm, causing the engine to emit a higher level of hydrocarbons.

The ideal automobile engine would run on two kinds of fuels: an extra-volatile fuel for starting the engine and for warm up, and a separate type of fuel for ongoing operation.

But it is "difficult enough to get consumers to keep their radiators full of water and their tires full of air, much less ask them to fill with two fuels at the gas station," said Dr. Ronald Matthews, a UT Austin professor of mechanical engineering. The new technology patented by Matthews and three other engineers solves that problem.

The on-board distillation system, which adds less than five pounds of weight to the engine, acts something like a miniature oil refinery. Matthews explained that "on board distillation allows you to fill up with one fuel. Then, we make two fuels from it."

"What we're doing is separating the molecules (of gasoline) that are easy to evaporate - the highly volatile ones -- from all the other molecules. Then we store those highly volatile molecules separately and use them to start the car," said Matthews.

The system will be implemented on a Ford 2001 Lincoln Navigator in UT Austin's mechanical engineering laboratories, where it will be refined over the next year and a half until ready for mass production.