the clouds of black smoke from the tailpipe of a bus may become an old story if a recent British invention, an oil recycler, proves its efficacy. The recycler can produce oil savings of at least 600 per cent as well as attain 50 per cent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions from vehicles running on diesel, says its inventor Hassan Assali, the managing director of Pinmore Ltd, uk. Significantly, the company has recently entered into a tie-up with an undis closed "major automotive manufacturer -cum-distributor in India" to sell its electronic oil recycler, a supplementary filtration device.
The recycler costs around us $280. Mounted near the vehicle's engine, it increases the active life of the lubricant (the oil that smoothens engine movements) and, more importantly, cuts down on particulate emissions -- minute particles of unburnt fuel and soot. "Future developments will include its application on petrol and gas-powered engines," says Assali.
The working principle of the recycler is that less frequent oil changes coupled with efficient filtration of the lubricant would considerably cut down emissions. Assali claims that his experiments showed that engines normally serviced after intervals of 9,672 km were still running on clean oil at 48,270 km and beyond with the recycler on.
The recycler has two main parts (see diagram) -- a dome-shaped chamber containing a heating element and a pyramid of stainless steel discs through which the oil cascades down and a filter which can remove solids as small as six microns (one micron is one millionth of a metre). A conventional filter removes only large particles of metal, silica, carbon and dust.
The engine oil first enters the filter unit through an electronically-controlled valve. After this, it flows to the dome-shaped chamber where it is heated upto 120 c. During the heating process, the contaminants -- hydrocarbons, water, unburnt fuel and organic acids -- are converted to gases and expelled through the gas outlet.
Fuel experts generally agree with Assali's claims. Gyan P Govil, an expert on the subject from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, says, "Prices can be cut by recycling the oil five to ten times as compared to ordinary processing of oil which is limited to filtration." However, he doubts Assali's claim of 50 per cent reduction of hydrocarbons. If these claims are found true, the recycler will provide some relief to people on India's smoke-choked roads.