Menden, September 2016 – Over the last 12 months, diesel-powered vehicles have been in the public eye on an almost daily basis – and even demands for a total ban on diesels are frequently to be heard. Today already, only vehicles that comply with the emissions stipulations of the low emission zones (LEZs) in force in many European cities and towns are allowed to enter these built-up areas. In Germany, the media has been hotly debating a proposal made by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, to introduce a blue sticker specifically for diesel vehicles. The proposals of a committee of experts that has been set up and the outcome remain to be seen.
What remains are the hard facts: a large number of cities are faced with the challenge of having to come up with and implement measures in the context of EU infringement proceedings and other pending actions demanding compliance with the clean air regulations – whether they want to or not!
High-profile trailblazers in Europe are currently London and the UK. Funding programmes have been launched nationwide aimed at improving the emissions of the country's fleet of public transport vehicles.
An issue of life and death: Sadiq Khan unveils bold air quality plans for London
"With nearly 10,000 people dying early every year in London due to exposure to air pollution, cleaning up London’s toxic air is now an issue of life and death," said Khan. "It is the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1956, which was passed following the great London smogs of the 1950s. Today we face another pollution public health emergency in London and now it’s our turn to act." The Mayor of London's proposals to tackle the capital's "toxic" air also include a big expansion of a planned Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and a faster roll-out of cleaner buses.
HJS is responding to this technical challenge and demonstrating to Europe's metropolises, Berlin, Madrid, London etc., that we have the technology and that public transport can be cleaner – with or without a blue sticker.
Irrespective of the outcome of the blue sticker debate and the consequences for private car owners, local authority fleet operators already have access to technology that enables them to make their existing bus fleets far less polluting – and at an affordable price, too. For even with all the goodwill in the world, a simultaneous replacement of complete fleets is not economically feasible. As a result, other measures have to be found to achieve the immissions targets without immobilising entire cities.
Commercial vehicles (buses and trucks) that fulfil the Euro VI emissions standard are the cleanest diesel-powered means of transport today's technology can achieve. In the past few years, Europe's commercial vehicle manufacturers have invested a huge amount of effort and done a great job. Thanks to the certification requirements that demand these vehicles already have to be put through RDE (Real Driving Emissions) test cycles, they really do deliver what they promise. For example, a state-of-the-art Euro VI truck emits the same level of nitrogen oxides in day-to-day operation as a Euro 5 car.
By retrofitting vehicles with SCRT systems that have been specifically optimised for "urban traffic mode", with low operating temperatures and constant stop 'n go traffic, even relatively old buses can become almost as clean as these ultramodern Euro VI vehicles – and we should aspire to nothing less than this.
HJS is a trailblazer in this technology. For more than 20 years, we have been working on solutions to the technical challenges posed by the denitrification ('denoxing') of diesel exhausts. In the meantime, the company has retrofitted more than 3,000 systems based on SCR or SCRT to vehicles all around the world, several hundred of these in Berlin – a city well known to be in a precarious budgetary situation.
"We are extremely proud of our history of achievements in the field of eco-technology, a history that is without compare. For instance, just a few weeks after the first batches of vehicles had been retrofitted with our equipment, measurable improvements in air quality were recorded on streets that are acutely affected", emphasizes Klaus Schrewe, Head of Development at HJS.
But it's not enough to retrofit this technology to public transport vehicles alone – commercial vans also offer great potential for optimisation. The majority of the current fleet of vans is based on the high-volume technology of Euro 5 passenger cars and these vehicles are consequently fitted with no more than a particulate filter. Even in 2020, which is just around the corner, this fleet will comprise several hundred thousand vehicles younger than 8 years old – many of which will remain in service for a further 4 years or longer.
"Thanks to the relatively generous amount of space available, retrofitting with SCR is a hugely feasible option", Schrewe explains. "This technology has covered more than 150,000 kilometres in one of our works vans. Without even trying, we actually managed to upgrade it from Euro 4 to Euro 6 standard and then added an actively regenerating particulate filter on top." And for applications that demand especially good performance, it is even conceivable that an electrically heated catalytic converter be integrated.
The sales team of HJS Emission Technology will be offering any amount of information on technically efficient and economically viable solutions to the immissions problem at the 66th IAA Commercial Vehicles fair in Hanover (Hall 13, Stand B44) between 22 and 29 September.