Published: Thursday 31 August 2000

CLEANER CONVERTER: A new catalytic converter that reduces harmful exhaust emissions from diesel engines has been developed by Toyota Motor Corporation. The clean exhaust technology called Diesel Particulate NOx Reduction System is a filtering system made of porous ceramic and cuts both particulate matter and nitrogen oxide pollutants by more than 80 per cent and also significantly reduces sulphur emissions. The technology will be used in Toyota's midsize and large commercial trucks by 2003. This technology will help the company's diesel-powered cars and trucks to meet tighter emission regulations, set to go into effect in Europe and the US over the next three to five years.

ECO-FRIENDLY CAR: Toyota Motor Corporation has introduced a new hybrid car Prius, that runs on both gas and electricity. It will be available in the US markets from August, 2000. The car uses a battery to start and switches to gasoline when the speed exceeds 24 kilometres (km) per hour. While slowing to stop, the car shifts back to the electric battery, which recharges itself. According to Toyota officials, Prius gives an average of 18.9 km per litre of gasoline on the highway and 21.9 km per litre in the city. It is priced at US $20,450.

BIOTECH OFFERINGS: Kee Pharmaceuticals Limited, a Delhi-based company, will be launching at least 12 new biotechnology products in the coming three years. Some of these products will be launched for the first time in India. They include recombinant streptokinase, which dissolves intra-coronary clots, therefore, helping in preventing fatal heart attacks. The company has collaborated with Heber Biotec, a Cuba-based company, to manufacture the products.

MIRACLE DRUG: Malorone, a new drug for the treatment and prevention of malaria, is being introduced by Glaxo Wellcome in the us markets . The drug has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It has been found to be effective in 98.7 per cent cases during clinical trials conducted in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Malarone is a combination of two drugs -- atovaquone and proguanlil.

PLANT DIESEL: The researchers at Purdue University, Indiana are developing genetically modified plants that will produce oil which can be used to run diesel engines. According to Bernie Tao, professor in-charge of the project, plant oil and fats have the same chemical base as diesel and both are made up of 15-carbon atom chains. Therefore, the researchers are hoping to produce a plant-based diesel substitute within a decade. They will also seek to develop a plant oil substitute for petrol.

HERBAL REMEDY: A bio-pesticide that controls eriophyid mite in coconut trees has been developed by Hendri Louis, a retired professor of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. It kills the coconut mite as well as grubs and larvae in other crops. The pesticide has been made of 10 local herbs and is non-toxic. The pesticide's field trials have been successful. According to Louis, it will eliminate the mite within a month and on an average it will cost Rs 10 per tree. The pesticide has to be sprayed twice in the root of the tree at an interval of 25 days. Eriophyid mite has affected around 25 per cent of the area under coconut cultivation in Tamil Nadu.

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