Canadian Government Introduces New Clean Air Act, Will Diesels Become Extinct?
Oct 19, 2006
October 19, 2006 - The Canadian federal government introduced today their proposed clean air act. This act would begin regulating smog levels by 2010 with a goal of halving greenhouse gasses by 2050. Of particular interest to four wheelers is the stated aim of matching the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's strict regulations. The EPA's Tier 2, Bin 5 level, based on California's LEV II requirements, is particularly harsh on diesel engines, due to its requirement for low NOx emissions. In fact, it is Tier 2, Bin 5 that is responsible for the rush to produce cleaner burning diesels. Tier 2, Bin 5 goes into effect in 2010. Would this mean the end for diesel trucks in North America?
Fortunately, no. Two new systems from Mercedes and Honda show that these lower emissions requirements can be affordably met with current technology. Mercedes' Bluetec system, utilizing urea injection and ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) should meet Tier 2, Bin 5 requirements, although it remains to be seen if the EPA will be happy with Bluetec's need for urea solution refills needed to keep the system working. The full Bluetec system (which includes urea-injection) should reach North America by late 2007. Honda's new diesel emissions system, utilizing new catalytic converter technology, requires no urea injection or other maintenance, and is expected to be released in 2009. So in the short term, there is a solution: urea injection. This is the solution that North American truck makers are looking at. And in the longer term, improved catalytic converter technology will also be brought to bear on the problem of NOx emissions.
Of course, this bill needs to pass the House of Commons before becoming law, but given California's huge influence on the North American auto market, I would expect clean diesel technology to end up in Canada, no matter what happens in our government.
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