The auto industry has been taking major steps to preserve the environment and reduce the carbon footprint left behind by the vehicles. It is important to know what actions they are taking, how it works and what you can do to help.
The government of India has planned to make the automotive industry fully compliant with the BS-6 emission norms in a few months. This move is already being seen as the biggest leap in technology, especially by skipping the BS-5 Norms, by the country’s automotive industry. Both oil and auto companies have been working tirelessly for the transition to happen before the April 2020 deadline.
Transcendence to BS-6
For the companies to make a car BS-6 compliant, the manufacturers have to enhance the combustion chambers and rework the design of fuel injectors, thus refining the process of combustion which makes the fuel atomisation finer. While all this happens inside the cylinder, the exhaust treatment systems lined up outside work to prevent or slow down the pollutants from escaping into the environment, this results in lower amount of particulate matter and NOx released by an internal combustion engine.
The direct injection petrol and diesel engines make use of particulate filters to reduce the amount of particulate matter and soot in the atmosphere. Even though NOx emissions from diesel engines are significantly more, they are easily tackled by using a Lean NOx Trap (LNT) or Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR). The expelled gases are filtered by LNT, whereas SCR injects a water-based urea solution into the exhaust air, this breaks the NOx into water and inert nitrogen, reducing its amount released in the atmosphere.
The change from BS-4 to BS-6 norms makes the laws more strict, and the amount of permissible air pollutants will go down from of NOx 0.18g/km to 0.16g/km, and particulate matter discharge from 0.025 to 0.05. Also the fuel for BS-4 compliant engine has sulfur allowance upto 50 ppm but in BS-6 it will be lowered to 10 ppm. Under these norms the emission of NOx will be reduced by 25 percent in petrol and 68 percent in diesel engines.
Challenges to a Cleaner Output
The fuel with lower sulphur content produces less amount of pollutants like NOx, CO, etc. While this is surely great for the environment these cleaner fuels comes with a cost, when we reduce the amount of exhaust emission it affects the performance and fuel efficiency of the vehicle, hence the auto companies have to find ways to cut down the pollution and at the same time maintain the performance of the vehicle. Another problem that will be faced here is the availability of the fuel, the BS-6 compliant fuels will only be supplied in Delhi and Agra for now, though the petroleum industry is confident that by 2020 the fuel will be available nationwide.
The upgradation of engines to meet the new norms is not a cost effective process. The companies have to make various amends in order to maintain the driveability and performance of their vehicles. Therefore, the car prices are expected to increase by ten to twenty thousand in petrol based vehicles and can go as high as eighty thousand to one lakh for diesel engines.
Another problem to be faced during this period of transition is the availability of the right fuel, as BS-6 compliant fuels are only available in Delhi and Agra for now and will not be available all over India till 2020. Petrol engines can work with fuels that are not BS-6 compliant without the fear of sulphur poisoning, but with diesel engines, there is a high chance of sulphur poisoning if the BS-4 compliant fuel is used since the higher content of sulphur in it poisons the catalyst affecting its operations. Therefore the ease of running a petrol based car on a lesser compatible fuel cannot be applied to the diesel model as it is critical to run it with BS-6 compliant fuel. However, companies like Mercedes are finding ways to overcome this by using alternate solutions like superior catalysts in the emission control devices so that its BS-6 diesel engines can work properly with BS-4 fuel.
Another query that needs to be mentioned is if the BS-4 vehicles can run on BS-6 fuels? As such, there is no serious problem in doing so, infact running the BS-4 vehicles on a cleaner fuel can reduce its emission rates, as the only difference between the two fuels is the reduced amount of sulphur in them.
Other than the fuels drivers will have to be careful about the lubricants they use in their new engines, as the choice of lubricant is as crucial as the fuel. Recommendations have been made to use only low SAPS engine oils (Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulphur) in all the BS-6 emission norm engines.
Driving Cycle Variations
MIDC (Modified Indian Driving Cycle) is used for evaluating the emissions from a passenger vehicle and was introduced nationwide in 2000 with the introduction of BS-1 emission norms. MIDC involves testing cars at an average speed of 19 kilometers per hour and fifty nine kilometers per hour on a dynamometer, this helps simulate both nlthe urban and highway driving.
MIDC takes inspiration from the NEDC which is the New European Driving Cycle, the difference between the two is MIDC has lower maximum speed. The EU has removed the NEDC, although India still continues to use it even after the introduction of BS-6. The country will change this in 2023 when it plans to introduce RDE (Real Driving Emissions) which will take the performance test on open roads as it will allow to judge more clearly how the cars perform in the real world.
Even though the BS norms are based on European counterpart Euro norms, which are applicable worldwide, there is a difference between the two. Though the common end goal may be reduced emission targets but BS norms were made keeping in mind the driving cycles in India as the average speed here is much less. Also fuels and oil requirements are different. In other words Euro 6 compliant cars are not particularly the same as BS-6 ones, at least not without some technical intervention.
With the auto industry doing everything in its power to comply with the deadline for the application of BS-6 emission norms, it is now the government’s job to make sure the transition is smooth and the vehicles that do not comply with the new standards should be removed from the roads as early as possible. Only then would it make a difference on our environment which we are working to preserve.