U.S.A.:Ford engineer wins top award
His technology helps reduce auto pollution
October 24, 2003
BY JEFF BENNETT
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Haren Gandhi's work may not be as sexy as inventing instant photography or a pacemaker, but the breakthroughs he has made between the wheels of a vehicle have helped clean the air and earn him one of his field's highest honors.
Gandhi won the 2002 National Medal of Technology for research, development and commercialization of automotive exhaust catalyst technology. The West Bloomfield resident will receive the award from President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6. This is the first time a researcher for Ford Motor Co., or any automotive manufacturer, has won the award. Past winners include Steven Jobs of Apple Computer; Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography, and Wilson Greatbatch, the inventor of the cardiac pacemaker.
Gandhi's work has helped reduce the pollutants that come out of an automobile's tail pipe.
"The pollution that comes from vehicles in 1967 compared to today is down more than 90 percent," said Gandhi, who received two chemical engineering degrees from the University of Detroit. "But what has been gratifying is that we have not been selfish and kept this to ourselves. We have spread this around the world."
Gandhi also has worked to cut in half the amount of precious metals, such as palladium, that automakers need to buy in order to build catalytic converters. A catalytic converter in a car reduces exhaust emissions.
Gandhi's work was an outgrowth of a doctoral dissertation he was working on when he joined Ford in 1967.
Ironically, Gandhi's breakthroughs were proven just after Ford had stocked up on precious metals it bought for as high as $1,000 an ounce. By the time Gandhi's breakthroughs could be implemented, prices had fallen 60 percent. The combination of lower prices and the need for less of the metals led Ford to take an embarrassing $1-billion write-off that brought its 2001 losses to $4.5 billion.
Gandhi, 62, is now pressing into the diesel fuel area, specifically, reducing emissions to make it a more consumer-friendly fuel. Consumers, especially those in America, have shied away from diesel because of pollution concerns.
"I want it to be just like the gasoline in a F-150 pickup truck from a consumer standpoint," Gandhi said.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....