Chuck Peden wants to keep our air clean and free from nitrogen oxide (NOx) that comes from diesel engines. Peden is the principle investigator for a Pacific Northwest National Lab project that cuts NOx emissions by at least half. The project involves combining electrically charged gas with a catalyst. Peden helped develop a small reactor to house the plasma reaction. The plasma reactor portion of the device will have to use some electrical power from the automobile alternator. "The need to provide electrical power for the plasma device will reduce the fuel economy somewhat," says Peden. "Our very first engine test, conducted over a year ago, showed 50% NOx reduction with a total 5% fuel penalty from both the need for electrical energy to power the plasma device and added fuel," he adds. Peden discovered that the packing material used in the reactor affected the chemical reaction. A patent is now pending on a class of materials used. Delphi and other companies are also developing the plasma/catalyst technology for use on light-duty diesel powered vehicles. Work done to improve fuel efficiency and reduce NOx emissions is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research's Low Emissions Technology Research and Development Partnership.
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