Text: Ashish Bhatia

New Delhi is grappling with pollution levels that far exceed the permissible limits. Mumbai is not far behind. The pollution focus seems to concentrate on diesel vehicles at the moment. It cannot be denied however that petrol and CNG vehicles are non polluting. Of the two, it is the CNG vehicles that escape scrutiny under the pretext of being greener. Also escaping scrutiny is the carbon built-up in an internal combustion engine that could contribute to the emission levels, irrespective of what fuel is burnt. The amount of carbon build up is also dictated by the quality of fuel used and if it is adulterated there needs a check on the extent of the same. Excessive carbon built up over time may lead to loss of power and torque. It may also lead to excess tear and wear of the engine. To generate the needed power more fuel will need to be burnt, leading to higher emissions.

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Decarbonising ways

An easy answer to decarbonising until now is to dismantle the cylinder head and remove the carbon deposit, a job that is labour intensive, costly and time consuming. Then, there are chemicals, detergents essentially, that are used to decarbonise an engine without going to the extent of dismantling the cylinder head. There are decarbonising agents that are termed as gasoline additives, foaming engine conditioners and oxy-hydrogen decarb machines that are claimed to introduce a specifically measured mixture of oxygen and hydrogen into the engine, to unsettle the carbon deposition through complete combustion. Entering into an agreement with Taiwan-based General Optics Corporation (GOC), Kolhapur-based Mohite Motors claims to offer an engine decarbonising technique that is claimed to be the most easiest, most effective and the most harmless ever. Called Auto-Decarb, the technique uses pure hydrogen (99%) to de-carbonise, de-tox and de-sludge the engine. Auto-Decarb involves a machine that produces pure hydrogen by consuming water. This is done through a patented process that involves a core with efficient electrolyser stacks. Laced with a bright control panel, the Auto-Decarb machine has a control panel that has system auto check, pressure safety control, hydrogen leakage detection, over pressure detection and over temperature detection functions. According to Richard Miao, President, GOC, the Auto-Decard machine uses Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology to produce pure hydrogen. To decarbonise the engine, the machine supplies hydrogen into the combustion chamber through the inlet manifold.

Process

Hydrogen is known to remove impurities on the solid surface, and finds use in a diverse range of applications like archaeological, semiconductor and computer electronic industries. Hydrogen atom reacts with carbon, silicon and oxygen atoms to form volatile molecules in order to remove the impurities from the solid surface. When introduced in an engine, hydrogen will be dissociated to active hydrogen (2H+) due to the temperature of the engine. The active hydrogen reacts with the sludge, carbon deposits and oxide substance in the engine. Sludge and carbon deposits turn into gas after reaction with active hydrogen or are re-burnt into carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide and water vapour before discharging from the exhaust. All that the operator of the Auto-Decarb machine has to do is disengage the air filter hose attached to the intake manifold and attach the Auto-Decarb hose instead. It does not take special training to do so. A flame-out detector needs to be connected with the battery and shuts down hydrogen production in the machine if the engine stalls. The machine runs for a cycle of 40 minutes. According to Dr Shrikant Patankar, Advisor, Mohite Motors, the duration of the cycle is based on the vehicle’s engine capacity and kilometer reading. In case of a diesel engine, the dislodged carbon deposits are expelled from the exhaust in the form of a black smoke. In the case of a petrol engine, the expulsion is in the form of water.

ARAI certified

Certified by ARAI according to Dr Patankar, the Auto-Decarb machine was tested by Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT). Averred Dr Patankar, “We approached Brihan Mumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) for the testing of the Auto-Decarb machine on their buses. Decarbonising was carried out on MSRTC’s fleet of 61 buses at the Vallabhnagar depot at Pune. Post the treatment, tests were carried out. A marked improvement in the performance was found. Also, a jump in fuel efficiency by 1 km per litre was observed. On a Natals duly calibrated machine, pollution levels were found to have dropped by 60 to 68%.” Added Dr Patankar, that decarbonising is recommended for vehicles that have run for more than 40,000 km. He drew attention to the fact that GOC has developed a Auto-Decarb machine specifically for application in India for two-wheelers. Mohite Motors is currently testing this machine and hopes to make it available in some time. Discussions with automobile manufacturers are on to have the machines endorsed for use at the dealer locales.

Apart from the machine specifically developed for two-wheelers with inputs from Mohite Motors, the Auto-Decarb machines include a heavy-duty machine for decarbonising the engines of trucks, buses, construction equipment and other such applications. Such a machine would cost Rs 30 lakh approximately. A machine for passenger vehicle would cost Rs 15 lakh approximately. The machine for two-wheelers would cost Rs 5.5 lakh approximately. According to Dr Patankar, a two-wheeler decarbonising cycle costs Rs 500; Rs 3000 for passenger vehicles, and Rs 6000 for commercial vehicles or such heavy-duty engines. With the production of pure hydrogen eliminating the risk of implosion which is a possibility in case of contamination with oxygen, the Auto-Decarb machine looks interesting. Especially for the fact that it promises to do away with the need to dismantle the cylinder head, a job that is labour intensive as well as expensive. The best part about the Auto-Decarb machine is its ability to reduce emission levels. It is on this basis, said Dr. Patankar, that they have approached the government to give them duty benefit. If a duty benefit is rendered, the machine could cost less by up to 40%.

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