Old vehicles of all kinds, buses, lorries, cars, taxis, three-wheelers and two-wheelers have been identified as the main sources of pollution. There are other sources also such as diesel generators, diesel locos etc.
The polluting agents are nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and suspended particulate matter.
The solutions being explored are reducing sulphur in diesel at the refinery level and control of emissions by using fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG has supply problems apart from emission and safety problems. The use of LPG is also being considered. This also has its own problems.
The emphasis has so far been on the use of so- called less polluting fuels and not on the vehicles and engines.
The Mashelkar Committee, which has been accepted by the government, has changed the entire approach by emphasising the need to move away from fuel management to vehicle management by the consumers of most of the vehicles already in use.
There is evidence to suggest that the so-called non-polluting fuels are really not so, and they also have other problems for the users. CNG has been found to emit carbon monoxide, which is also very harmful to health. A recent study by the California Air Resource Board, which has emphasised environmental control for some years, shows that LPG reduces engine performance with more NOX and total hydrocarbon emissions at lower speeds. The study points out that LPG conversion kits will be useful only with catalytic convertor and air fuel controller. The study concludes: “For a variety of reasons LPG is not considered the alternate fuel of the future.”
There is an invention by an Indian engineer called the Hydrodrive Electronic Catalytic Convertor, which is the world’s first, all fuel microwave pre-engine electronic convertor to reformulate the fuel on board the vehicle for clean combustion. This invention is under patent reference. It has recently been awarded the Asian Innovation Gold Award for the year 2001. The Far Eastern Economic Review and Reuters carried the story which had a half hour TV presentation and discussion on the subject about a month ago. Following this foreign companies from Asia are negotiating contracts for the distribution rights for the product in their own countries.
The Hydrodrive convertor reduces pollution from all types of fuel including the present high sulphur diesel, used in all types of vehicles and also in fuel using equipment like generators. In old vehicles it reduces pollution to Euro II standards and, in new vehicles with Euro II standards to Euro III standards.
The equipment costs about Rs 6,000 per piece, which is a fraction of the cost of a conventional exhaust convertor. It can be fitted by a trained mechanic in about an hour in all kinds of vehicles. It has the standard manufacturer’s guarantee.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has tested the device and the evaluation report shows that device is effective in controlling the emissions. It has also been tested by the Chennai Metropolitan Transport Corporation Ltd. on buses and other types of vehicles. The Army School of mechanical transport, Bangalore has also certified its utility in reducing emission, improving engine performance and improved fuel consumption.
Apart from controlling pollution the device also improves engine performance and reduces fuel consumption. Thus for the user the pay back period of the cost of installing the device will be about six months to two years depending on the distances travelled and the cost of different fuels.
It is indeed surprising that while foreigners have realised the value of the device and want to enter into commercial agreement to market the device in other parts of the world, in India there is so little interest and we are going after the wrong solutions for the problem of pollution.
Even the public sector oil companies have shown little interest in promoting and marketing the device while they are spending huge amounts on reductions of sulphur in diesel produced by the refineries.
Now that the Mashelkar Committee has clearly transferred the onus on the consumer it would be in the national interest if the authorities study the existing data on the effectiveness of the devise and if necessary, undertake further authoritative and conclusive evaluation of the device and bring it to the device and bring it to the notice of the courts and get orders for a realistic time frame for the users of all kinds of polluting vehicle owners to install the device.
The use of the device will also save the oil companies several thousands of crores of rupees, which is envisage for investment in improving the quality of the fuels in the refineries.