Innovative system uses hydrogen to reduce NOx emissions

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The world is looking more quickly for a clean alternative to serve as transportation. Thus, the automotive industry has developed several technologies both to reduce polluting emissions and to remove them completely from the roads. Electric-powered cars are advancing at a good pace. Those powered by hydrogen fuel cells are waiting for the opportunity. However, with thermals that use fossil fuels they do not seem to give up.

A group of researchers created a system that uses hydrogen to reduce NOx emissions from vehicles.

Escape image with NOx emissions

What is NOx?

The gas that is emitted 40 times more than allowed and what is at the center of this environmental crime is called nitrogen oxides (NOx). This gas is the sum of the concentrations of nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), added as parts per billion and expressed in micrograms per cubic meter of nitrogen dioxide.

These compounds are formed by combining nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere, under conditions of high temperature and high pressure, in the combustion of car engines. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) contribute to the formation of acid rain and photochemical fog and some of them, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), can cause lung irritation and decrease resistance to respiratory infections (asthma, for example) . The groups most sensitive to these pollutants are children and the population with respiratory diseases.

The system that can give fossil fuels a “new air”?

Behind this attempt to clean up road pollution is a Spanish business group, Mecacontrol. Their specialty is the automotive industry and they are aware of the problems that brands face due to nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles. Thus, the group decided to invest in the development of a technological solution to end the environmental problem.

In 2013, two years before the nitrogen oxide emission scandals, the group began to work side by side with partners (CSIC and INSIA) with the aim of creating a technology capable of selectively reducing nitrogen oxides. Seven years later, the development of this technology was possible, obtaining remarkably favorable results that had not been achieved before.

The innovative NOx emission reduction system reached 60% NOx reduction levels higher than those achieved by the Euro 6d after-treatment system in the ECE-15 urban cycle.

How does the technology that uses hydrogen work?

The consortium is responsible for creating a new technology for the selective reduction of nitrogen oxides that complements conventional reduction systems based on Adblue. The objective of SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology is to reduce the emissions that are generated during combustion in the engine through a catalytic converter that is part of the vehicle's exhaust system.

The technology allows the elimination of nitrogen oxides from combustion emissions using hydrogen as a reducing agent in a temperature range of 150 to 200 ° C. Conventional reduction systems based on Adblue are not operational at these temperatures. In this way, the new system makes it a favorable technology for reducing NOx in city traffic.

Interior image of engine with NOx emissions that will be treated with hydrogen

System results

The innovative NOx emission reduction system has achieved NOx 60% reduction levels. Therefore, these results are superior to those achieved by the Euro 6d after-treatment system in the urban cycle ECE-15.

The presentation of the project took place last January 31 at Navarra Summit 2020. This is a congress in which the main automotive brands participated, as well as the current CEO of Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz. The project was very well received and generated great surprise because of the results achieved.

Then, passing the project on to the public sphere, those involved hope that the automotive sector brands will be interested in the NOx reduction system.



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