Monday, June 12, 2006

Soot from school buses putting children in danger?

Currently, California, New York and three New England states with tougher air-quality laws prohibit the sale of diesels because of emissions of soot and nitrogen oxides. DaimlerChrysler is developing an emissions system called BlueTec that will reduce nitrogen oxides by treating exhaust with urea. The next big leap for diesel technology should begin in fall 2006 when U.S. refiners are required to reduce the sulfur content in the fuel. Low-sulfur fuel will enable new emission-control technologies that would allow diesels to be sold in all 50 states.

The diesel engine was invented more than a century ago by Rudolph Diesel, and the first commercial engine using his patent was installed by Adolphus Busch in St. Louis. The principal difference between gasoline and diesel engines is combustion. Gasoline engines ignite the fuel with a spark plug, while diesels use compression and generate more low-end torque, one reason why they're used in large equipment and heavy trucks.

School buses in the USA spew out masses of diesel soot, some of them 10 times as much as a big rig does. 95% of school buses in America run on diesel. A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists in Berkeley, says nearly 505,000 school buses used to ferry children to schools were some of the oldest and dirtiest vehicles on the road.

In general, old diesel engine emissions kill more than 20,000 Americans prematurely every year, Boston-based environmental group Clean Air Task Force (CATF) has said. According to a study by the group, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles suffer from the highest number of premature deaths due to such emissions.

For an article on the chemical characteristics of soot, click


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