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EUROPA - Research and Innovation: What's New in Innovation

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Re-inventing the wheel? Inconsistent results? Failure to push all the way through and LEGISLATE?

Original title and full article , 3rd June,COLOGNE from The Economist print edition with pertinent comments, all online in the Science &Technology pages, cf ref. 1 below.

"Cleaner diesel engines
Pouring water on troubled oils To make engines cleaner, add H2O," (an old idea)



Motivation for action

"Research by James Corbett of the University of Delaware estimates that soot from ships’ diesels contributes to 60,000 deaths from heart and lung disease every year."


The problem
Water & Oil do not mix naturally.

Solution

The current innovative solution reported in The Economist is due to Reinhard Strey of the University of Cologne. He uses surfactants- to a class of chemical substances which, usually in small quantities, modify the interfacial tension existing between different substances, here, H20 and Oil. Dish washing liquids are the best known household surfactants which work in this principle. removing oil and grease from our dinner plate.

Apparently many attempts to improve combustion using water and surfactants failed.
Now, Dr Strey after extensive research eventually lighted on a mixture of oleic acid (a fatty acid found in various vegetable oils) and nitrogen-containing compounds called amines. This mixture dissolves readily in diesel fuel and binds water to it without any need for stirring. The water droplets themselves can be as small as a nanometre (a billionth of a metre) across. That they are so small helps stabilise the emulsion.
A very important feature of this invention, worth repeating, is that the emulsion created is stable. The result it is claimed is, in effect, a liquid sponge, and means the mixture can be stored indefinitely, like ordinary diesel, without risk of separation.
When the Oil-Surfactant-H2O emulsion is burned, is the near-complete abolition of soot, and a reduction of up to 80% in nitrogen-oxide emissions. The surfactant itself also burns without creating emissions beyond water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
The next stage is to test the mixture in the real world. MTU, a German engine-builder, (Germany's Rolls-Royce) is now looking into the matter.

Will this innovation be adopted and made law on The Seas or is this just more Eau de Cologne to mask the stink?

REFERENCE:

The Economist,  3rd of June 2010 Science & Technology

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