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The ‘microwave emissions converter’ has already attracted worldwide media coverage not only for its ability to cut exhaust emissions by up to 90%, but also its ‘waste’ product, a film of industrial-grade diamonds, suitable for use in lenses and CD players, amongst others.

Industrial researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, announced the new microwave device for both petrol and diesel internal combustion engines on 28 September, allowing reductions up to 90% for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions.

The converter’s inventors Elias Siores and Carlos Destefani have already patented the product, which works by microwaving exhaust gases to such a high temperature that molecular bonds in the gases break and form a plasma of free ions. When this cools, the ions recombine to form less harmful substances. The converter also reduces nitrogen oxides by recirculating the gas after ionisation.

If the converter is used in conjunction with a catalytic converter, reduction levels are the same, so that the already reduced harmful emissions will be substantially further reduced.

Professor Siores, who has worked on this development for 10 years, said that he is currently working on transforming the carbon particles that are filtered and collected after ionisation and further processing them. “Microwave deposition techniques are being used to transform carbon particles into artificial diamond powder, which could be used as a scratch or wear resistant coating on optical lenses, compact discs and watches. It could also be used for prolonging the life of bio-engineering materials including prosthetic hip joints, orthopaedic pins and artificial heart valves and veins,” he said.

Sensors fitted to an engine control the lightweight aluminium converter so that it works to an optimum at all selected engine speeds. The device is suitable for all vehicles as well as gas effluents from industrial plant emissions. The researchers say that it is also inexpensive, operates silently, needs minimum power, does not present any health hazards, and is easy to maintain.

Professor Siores believes that the microwave emissions converter will enable governments throughout the world to set a new lower target level for C02.

“The role of government in this matter is pivotal, as like catalytic converters are now compulsory in motor vehicles, in future, so should be microwave emissions converters, or their equivalents, should anyone invent any,” he said.

Soares said that the device would be critical in reducing automotive exhaust gas emissions and, potentially, in industrial gas effluents in a country such as Australia, where, he said, road traffic accounted for almost 15% of the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions. “No facilities exist that can substantially minimise effluents to the level provided by induced ionisation,” he said.

Noting that the converter performs best when a vehicle is idling, or travelling at constant speed, Soares said that the benefits “would be especially noticeable in an urban environment where car engines spend much of the time idling, stopped at red lights or in traffic congestion”.

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