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by Mike Zazaian September 25, 2006 - 8:09pm, 7 Comments

The rear of a diesel-powered Honda Accord

In a strong continuation of its campaign to produce more environmentally-friendly autos, Honda has produced a diesel engine that produces as much or less emissions as a gasoline engine of equal size.

While diesel engines in the past haven’t been an plausible standard due to excessive emission of Nitrogen, Honda has produced a system which cleans up the diesel engine substantially. A drive-train add-on in new vehicles will generate ammonia inside of a two-layer catalytic converter, turning nitrogen oxide from diesel exhaust in clean nitrogen before it’s sent into the atmosphere.

Diesel engines are becoming increasingly popular in Europe because they’re about thirty percent more fuel efficient than regular gasoline engines. However, as governments around the world impose stricter emission regulations, manufacturers have been forced to abandon the sales of diesel cars in some markets despite the fact that consumers prefer them for their MPG benefits. Honda’s new dual catalytic converter solution solves these emissions problems just a year before the US government will rolls out Tier II Bin 5, the world’s most rigorous emissions regulation policy.

Competitors Daimler-Chrysler and Volkswagen also have also co-developed a next-gen diesel engines, but Honda has criticized their methods as including heavy, costly add-ons compared to Hondas more easy-to-implement solution. Daimler-Chrysler, who already uses diesel and turbo-diesel engines in some Volkswagen models, plans to roll out their next-gen diesel engines in its 2008 Volkswagen lineup. Similarly, Honda says its cleaner diesel engine will be ready for production some time within the next three years.

Honda's FCX fuel-cell vehicle

Clean diesel hasn’t been Honda’s only significant contribution to cleaner commuting. Aside from a number of high-MPG hybrid engine models, Honda is developing a fuel-cell vehicle that uses vertical flow of hydrogen and water to produce electricity. The process allows the fuel-cell size to be minimized as much as 30 percent with a range of 354 miles, making a hydrogen-oxygen powered vehicle a much more viable alternative.

Honda has also produced an innovative new form of bioethanol that’s it’s already put to use in Brazil’s gas-starved economy. The new form of ethanol is produced from biomass plant products such as rice straw, making for a more carbon-neutral solution than the corn and sugarcane-based ethanol products of the past. Honda will produce 30,000 vehicles by 2007 that run solely on their new E100 ethanol, a cleaner standard than E85 vehicles that throw 15 percent gasoline into the mix for stronger combustion.

[via cnet]