New purifier filters diesel exhaust particles

Feb 18, 2002 01:00 AM

Japanese researchers have developed a purifier that filters nearly 90 % of toxic diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) from engine emissions by using an extract of the Japanese cypress tree. The advent of the new purifier is attracting interest because, in addition to its effectiveness, it costs a fraction of a conventional diesel emission filter.
The system was developed by researchers from the Kochi University of Technology in southern Japan and a Tokyo-based start-up firm Juon Medical System. Juon developed a filter that contains volatile extracts from the Japanese cypress -- hinoki or Chamaecyparis obtusa -- an evergreen tree highly valued in Japan as a building material.

The filter uses a mixture of 99 % water and 1 % cypress oil to produce a vapour which is mixed with diesel emissions causing the DEPs to attach to the cypress oil particles and be collected. "(The university's team) found that air purifiers equipped with the apparatus can filter formaldehyde -- potential carcinogen emitted byartificial construction materials and considered the main culprit of so-called sick house syndrome -- and cigarette smoke extremely efficiently," it said. "They tried filtering DEPs -- highly reactive soot like particulate matter -- with the device and found that it was similarly effective."
The cypress filter removed 80 to 90 % of DEPs, according to the study. The filter also cuts 90 % of other toxic materials in diesel emissions, such as free radicals. Free radicals are believed to cause asthma and lung cancer. The newly developed system also cuts the level of carbon dioxide in diesel emissions.

Conventional filters for diesel emissions usually use ceramic to collect and burn toxic particles. They are prone to blockages and emit nitrogen oxides, a source of smog. The conventional devices also are expensive, usually priced around 800,000 to 2 mm yen ($ 6,031 to $ 15,077). The newly developed purifier, on the other hand, would only cost 120,000 yen to 180,000 yen.
Researchers plan to put the new system to practical use as early as April.

Source: AFP
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