September 25, 2006

Honda unveils clean diesel system and latest fuel cell system

Honda, the car maker that floored the world in the 1970s with the first gasoline engine to meet U.S. clean air guidelines without a catalytic converter, said it has developed a new and simple diesel power train that is as clean as gasoline-fueled cars. The technology marks a big step towards meeting the world's strictest emissions regulations, called Tier II Bin 5, that the United States will usher in next year. Honda said on Monday its new diesel drive train features a unique method that generates and stores ammonia within a two-layer catalytic converter to turn nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen.

The system would need fine-tuning for the wide-ranging cetane indices of diesel fuel found in the United States. Honda also needs to develop technology to measure emissions levels according to U.S. On-Board Diagnostic System requirements. But Japan's third-biggest automaker said it planned to roll out the advanced diesel engine in the United States within three years.

In a demonstration of other new power plant technologies, Honda also showed off a prototype of its next-generation fuel cell vehicle that runs on a newly developed compact and more powerful fuel cell stack. The new stack is designed to allow the hydrogen and water formed during electricity generation to flow vertically instead of horizontally, making the component 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the previous version. Honda's new FCX fuel-cell car now has a driving range of 354 miles--a 30 percent improvement from the 2005 model--a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour and can be driven in temperatures as low as minus 22 degrees.

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