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A sensor provides detailed data about vehicle particulate emissions

Particulate emissions from diesel engines are currently measured by smoke darkness in motor vehicle inspections. This method is particularly unsuitable for measurement of the smallest particles, which are considered as being the most dangerous. There are over 100,000 vehicle inspection stations in Europe using smoke darkness to measure particulate emissions.

The authorities have noticed the shortcomings in measuring diesel smoke in this way and have been fervently seeking new methods that would not only satisfy numerous inspection station needs at a reasonable cost, but also be sensitive enough to the emissions of new diesel engines and engines fitted with a particle filter.

Finnish company Dekati Oy has developed a new sensor-based instrument to measure particulate emissions from vehicles. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, has partly funded Dekati’s research into particle measurement technology for a number of years.

"The AutoTest instrument will be launched during this year. The instrument features a sensor to enable the measurement of vehicle particulate emissions during vehicle inspections," says Dekati Oy’s CEO Juha Tikkanen.

Cheaper using sensor technology

"The cost of an individual instrument falls sharply with sensor technology. On the other hand, there is also a sharp rise in the number of instruments sold."

Demand is expected for measuring instruments since the measurement of vehicle particulate emissions in vehicle inspections will start in 2007 in the USA, in 2008 in Japan and possibly in the EU in 2012. The potential need on these markets alone is for 80,000 perhaps even for 200,000 measuring instruments.

Dekati has signed an R&D contract to develop AutoTest with a US company in a bid to also commercialise the instrument.

The sensor also has other applications such as in industrial hygiene, where the arrival of nanomaterials in the everyday working environment constitutes a major health risk for persons handling the materials. It is possible to develop the sensor into a vehicle-specific sensor that can be fitted in every diesel-driven vehicle.

Eeva Ahola | alfa
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