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Old 01-31-2005, 05:54   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford to Use an E.P.A. Engine in Effort to Develop Diesel Cars

Ford to Use an E.P.A. Engine in Effort to Develop Diesel Cars

NEW YORK TIMES
By DANNY HAKIM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a prototype diesel engine that meets tough new emissions standards to be phased in over the next few years in the United States. On Friday, the Ford Motor Company said the technology was promising enough that it had reached agreement with the agency to try to develop it for use in its cars and trucks.

At a news conference at an E.P.A. research installation here, Gerhard Schmidt, Ford's vice president for research and advanced engineering, said, "We don't want to give the impression today that everything's solved and next year you will see several hundred thousand light-duty diesel vehicles on the road, but this is already a great start and has great promise."

Ford executives declined to discuss details of the agreement, saying only that the company would start trying to develop the E.P.A.'s approach for commercial use. The federal agency announced a similar agreement last year with International Truck and Engine for diesel engines in larger commercial trucks.

If the technology can be manufactured affordably and proves to be commercially viable, it would be an impressive achievement for the E.P.A. The agency has become more active in the last dozen years in developing technologies as well as writing regulations. Millions of vehicles are equipped with diesel engines worldwide, and devising ways to reduce their pollutants has been a focus of corporate research and development abroad.

About half the new cars sold in Europe use diesel fuel. But in the United States, obstacles, including memories of smoke-belching diesel vehicles from the early 1980's, have led automakers to restrict use of diesel fuel mostly to pickups and larger trucks.

Diesel has some favorable attributes. Because it is roughly 30 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline, diesel-powered cars emit considerably less global-warming gas, and they can allow more travel between fill-ups.

Diesel fuel has given off far higher levels of harmful smog-forming pollutants than gasoline, but the difference has narrowed considerably as technology has improved in recent years. Tough new federal regulations will soon require diesel and gasoline-powered cars to reach the same emissions levels, making it harder for automakers to bring diesel vehicles to the United States.

The chief hurdle for the automakers in the new regulations will be to reach a low level of emissions for one pollutant, nitrogen oxide. Most companies say that filtration or treatment technologies to remove nitrogen oxide will be costly and complex.

The diesel engine developed by the E.P.A. does not require filtration because it uses a combustion temperature that is far lower than usual, preventing the creation of nitrogen oxide.
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