Reducing Particulate Matter

The Problem

Today's air pollution mix is different from that which plagued the industrial world 70 years ago. The historic culprit was coal burnt in homes, factories and power plants; you could smell it and see it in the tiny bits of carbon or unburned fuel that collected on clothes. Air Pollution now is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and mainly comes in particles so small they can pass through facemasks.

Exposure to particles is linked to higher levels of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis, acute asthma, decreased lung function, lung inflammation, cancer, reduced birth weight, infant mortality and premature death in adults. More than 7 million deaths, or one in eight of all deaths, are linked to it according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Problem with Particulate matter

Particulate matter (PM) is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Diesel engines emit large amounts of fine PM. 90 % of these particles are less than 1 micron in diameter, too small to see (by contrast, the typical human hair is about 70 microns in diameter). These tiny particles evade our respiratory defenses and get stuck in the deepest recesses of our lungs, where they can cross into the bloodstream.

Diesel particles carry Black Carbon (BC) and toxic heavy metals, sulfates, and dozens of other chemicals known to cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, and formaldehyde. PM2.5 from traffic, especially from diesel engines, is the predominate pollution source in cities. PM2.5 is the most dangerous pollutant to human health. The size of particulates is directly linked to their potential to cause health problems.

Diesel is also a major environmental hazard, resulting in 20-25% of the world's black carbon (BC). BC is the second most powerful man-made contributor to global warming, accelerating the melting of Arctic ice and mountain glaciers worldwide, and has been found to contribute to climate change twice as much as previously estimated.

BC influences climate through multiple mechanisms:

* Direct effect: BC absorbs both incoming and outgoing radiation of all wavelengths, which contributes to warming of the atmosphere and dimming at the surface.
* Snow/ice effect: BC deposited on snow and ice darkens the surface and decreases reflectivity, thereby increasing absorption and accelerating melting.
* Other effects: BC also alters the properties and distribution of clouds, affecting cloud reflectivity and lifetime ("indirect effects"), stability ("semi-direct effect"), and precipitation.

It's a global problem - Europe

* In Europe one reason for the increased air pollution is that there are now far more diesel cars.
* Gasoline engines emit large amounts of CO and relatively small amounts of particulate matter, while diesel engines do the opposite. Diesel engines also co-emit other pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and organic carbon.
* 50% of NOx in European countries is from traffic sources (up to 80% at highly polluted sites)
* Diesel cars have spread on the streets resulting in 20 fold NOx emissions compared to it's alternative (gasoline).

Great Britain

• Fifty-eight per cent (58%) of pupils in inner London boroughs are in schools in areas with harmfully high nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

• Nearly one in four school children in London are being forced to breathe air so filthy that it breaches EU legal limits.

• Children are particularly vulnerable to exposure to PM as it affects lung development, including deficits in lung function as well as chronically reduced lung growth rate and a deficit in long-term lung function.


• On March 20, 2015, air pollution in Paris was worse than in any city in the world.

• According to Plume Labs (which monitors 60 cities worldwide), the air quality index number hit 125 in Paris.
• 150 is considered "critical", while anything above 100 is considered "harmful".

• "The main offenders are the fine particles emitted by diesel vehicles," according to Patrick Kinney, an air pollution epidemiologist and professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

• According to Kinney, pollution in Paris is more noticeable than in big cities in the U.S. because of the much larger number of diesel vehicles on French roads.

Latin America

• Each of the ten cities with available data had annual PM2.5 concentrations well above the WHO guidelines.

• The situation is especially critical in Bogota? and Lima, where the annual mean PM2.5 concentrations are more than three times higher than the WHO guidelines.

• Latin American countries emit 12 percent of the world's black carbon emissions.

• Diesel vehicles are the largest source of transportation-related black carbon emissions in Latin America


• In New Delhi, the U.S. embassy's monitoring station recorded an air quality index of 372, which puts air pollution levels well into "hazardous" territory.

• India's air pollution problem is extensive, with 13 Indian cities now on the WHO's list of the 20 most polluted.

• India's filthy air is cutting 660 million lives short by over three years, according to a study by the University of Chicago, Harvard and Yale.

• India has developed its economy with a heavy reliance on diesel for transportation and electricity generation in areas not connected to the grid resulting in extreme air pollution by burning fossil fuels.


• On December 7, 2015, Beijing issued the first ever 'red alert' on air pollution after its air-quality index surpassed 500.

• The air in Beijing is so polluted that breathing it does as much damage to the lungs as smoking 40 cigarettes a day, says Berkley Earth Research.

• One major contributing factor to China's urban air pollution is emissions from dirty diesel vehicles, including trucks, locomotives and ships, as well as construction and agricultural equipment.

• Studies suggest that diesel vehicle emission contributes more than 70% of NOx in downtown Beijing and are the dominant source of roadside PM2.5.

• Lung cancer is two to three times more common in cities than in the countryside despite similar rates of tobacco smoking.

• Air pollution in China kills about 4,000 people every day, about 17% of all deaths in China.

United States

• Roughly 1 out of every 3 people in the United States is at a higher risk of experiencing PM2.5 related health effects. --U.S. EPA



• Diesel emissions account for the deaths of millions of people each year and directly contributes to 25% of the World's human carbon footprint that causes global warming.

• The AWE solution of treating diesel fuel is an easy to apply solution that could help solve a large part of the World's air pollution problem.

• The AWE solution has NO additional cost to society as our environmentally friendly technology more than pays for itself through enhanced fuel economy.