With advances in electric technology, adverse media coverage in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal and announcements from cities about extra emissions regulations and parking surcharges, it is fair to say that diesel has been having a rocky time of it over the past few months.
However, anyone who thinks that means its days are numbered could have another thing coming. Despite the bad rap, diesel remains a better choice than petrol for a number of reasons – CO2 emissions are lower, fuel economy is better and performance is more or less equal. And the latest breakthrough by tyre giant Continental provides an enormous boost to the diesel engine’s green credentials, cutting harmful emissions by a shocking 60 per cent.
The magic all comes down to an electrically heated catalytic convertor, which is far more effective at reducing NOx emissions under regular driving conditions. Conventional catalytic convertors use the heat from the engine to warm them up, while this one uses a 48-volt system. This means the catalytic convertor is operating at full efficiency from the word go.
When trialled on a diesel Volkswagen Golf, the system saw a 60 per cent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions, a three per cent drop in CO2 emissions and a four per cent increase in fuel economy, giving the system every appearance of a win-win. Accelerating up to motorway speeds, the Golf recorded NOx emissions of just 69 mg/km. This is well inside the Euro 6 limit of 80 mg/km.
Future proofing the diesel
Continental’s Development Manager, Johannes Drechsel, remarked that diesel cars have an important role to play in the future of motoring, but that they have to be clean. Technology like this will ensure their continued viability in the 21st century automotive world.