Bosch Announces Breakthrough That Keeps Diesel Emissions Clean, Really This Time

Bosch promises that the gains are for real, and there will be no shenanigans this time around.

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Bosch Announces Breakthrough That Keeps Diesel Emissions Clean, Really This Time © Bosch Announces Breakthrough That Keeps Diesel Emissions Clean, Really This Time

Robert Bosch GmbH, which makes engine management and emission control systems for a wide variety of vehicles, announced Wednesday that it has made a breakthrough in emission control systems for diesel engines. This new technology promises to slash nitrogen oxide emissions, which are responsible for smog in congested areas, to one-tenth of the European legal limit set to take effect in 2020.

After the Dieselgate scandal, it seemed that diesel was on its way out as a fuel in Europe. Last year, demand for new diesel cars fell by 17.1 percent in the U.K., and sales in Germany have fallen by 19.5 percent. Some major cities are preparing to ban diesel altogether as early as 2025. 

But this does not take Bosch's new technology into account. If Bosch's claims are true, its new components will not only capture particulate matter from the exhaust as they do currently, they will also eliminate nearly all nitrogen oxide emissions as well, making diesel bans in congested areas unnecessary.

Naturally, the industry is taking these claims with a diesel truckload of salt. Bosch designed many of emission control systems used, or misused, by multiple auto manufacturers to cheat diesel emission tests. Volkswagen, in particular, admitted to using an engine management mode, which Bosch claims was intended only for test purposes, to detect when the car was being tested and run clean. The system would then switch to a different mode providing better performance, but allowing higher emissions, for actual street use.

Bosch has not been directly implicated in the Dieselgate scandal. Though its engine management systems were used, it was the auto manufacturers that used them in ways Bosch did not intend to cheat the tests. Still, Bosch is fully aware that its test modes created the loopholes that manufacturers exploited.

"The challenge is to bring [emissions] below the limits not only on the test stand but on the road as well," said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. "It is precisely this hurdle that our engineers have now overcome, exceeding expectations with pioneering solutions that will allow automakers to come in well below the legal limits. The new kind of tests—moving away from the test stand and toward the road—have especially driven our progress."

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