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Adding water to diesel fuel to reduce pollution

The AQUAZOLE project was launched in February 1997, under the EU's LIFE financial instrument for the environment, with a grant of ECU 417,000, representing 30% of the total expenditure on the project. The aim of the project is to develop a water-based fuel to reduce pollution ...
The AQUAZOLE project was launched in February 1997, under the EU's LIFE financial instrument for the environment, with a grant of ECU 417,000, representing 30% of the total expenditure on the project. The aim of the project is to develop a water-based fuel to reduce pollution from the engines of buses and lorries. This will help to combat atmospheric pollution in towns without disrupting the economy, by, for example, banning diesel engines altogether.

As a result of the AQUAZOLE project, the French oil company Elf has developed a diesel fuel which is 10% water. The AQUAZOLE formula consists of approximately 13% aqueous solution (tap water and antifreeze), 2-3% fuel-specific active organic additives and the rest conventional diesel.

The new fuel could prove very effective as a means of combating atmospheric pollution, given that, in experimental use:

- NOx emissions are reduced by 15 to 30%;
- Emissions of solid particulates are reduced by 10 to 50%;
- Black smoke is reduced by 30 to 80%;
- Energy consumption (and thus the level of CO2 emissions) is reduced by 1-4%;
- Emissions of unregulated pollutants such as ketones are not increased.

Other advantages of the new fuel include the fact that the anti-corrosive and lubricative properties of the engine are improved, prolonging its life-time. However, fuel consumption is increased due to the fact that water has no calorific value.

Results of the AQUAZOLE project have been presented to the Commission and are expected to be used in the framework of the Commission's Auto-Oil programme, which aims to produce recommendations for new fuel standards to be implemented by 2005. While the new fuel is currently only in use experimentally, a European product launch is planned before the end of the year.

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