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MIT "plasmatron" drastically reduces smog emissions in a diesel bus


45th Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics

MIT physicists will report a new advance with the plasmatron, a small device that converts part of a fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas that reduces the emission of pollutants from vehicles. Developed by MIT researchers, the plasmatron was tested on a diesel-engine bus in Columbus, Indiana. The bus was tested by a team of engineers from ArvinMeritor, a major automotive and heavy truck components manufacturer which has licensed the plasmatron technology from MIT.

At the meeting, the MIT researchers will report that the plasmatron device, used with a special catalyst that treats the exhaust, reduced nitrous oxides from the vehicle by 90 percent. Nitrous oxides (NOx) are a major component of smog. In development for a half-dozen years, the plasmatron is showing special promise for early commercialization in diesel engines, which power many buses and trucks. The MIT researchers believe the plasmatron may provide an excellent means for those vehicles to meet stricter EPA standards planned to go into effect by 2007 for buses and heavy trucks. The plasmatron technology can also be used in gasoline engines, and makes them run potentially 30% times more efficiently while also being affordable and very clean.

The work is funded by the Department of Energy’s FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program and by ArvinMeritor.

Leslie Bromberg, MIT, 617-308-1936
Dan Cohn, MIT, 617-834-9411

David Harris | American Physical Society
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