Environmental Accountability for a Sustainable Earth
Earth Day and Earth Trustee
Mylaudy Dr. S. Rajadurai
Mrs. Fatima Rajadurai
(Earth Day, 2006)
Each year on Earth Day (April 22), a celebration of life will cover our globe as the peace bell of the United Nations ring in every community and people join in heartfelt love and devotion to the care of this nest in the stars: Earth, our wonderful home. We will review a world view, goal and agenda for the people of earth that will provide a healthy sustainable future. John McConnell’s inspiring and carefully crafted document, the Earth Magna Charta, could serve as a vital global rallying cry at this moment in history. Earth Day is one of humanity’s great discoveries, the discovery of anniversary which, throughout time, human beings have kept their sorrows and their joys, their victories, their revelations and their obligations alive, for re-celebration and re-dedication another year, another decade, another century, another eon. Earth Day reminds the people of the world of the need for continuing care which is vital to Earth’s safety…
The Earth Magna Charta provides the needed vision and the way. Individuals can now be trustees of earth, seeking in ecology, economics and ethics policies and decisions that will benefit people and planet. In the present state of the world, the space age, trustee concept has a chance of tapping the best in human hopes and aspirations and providing a healthy, innovative and fulfilling future for our planet and its people. In this new future, deeds will demonstrate what is best in creeds. Young earth trustees will focus on the many solutions that are being found around the world. The objective is now the new rejuvenation of earth. We must rally and inspire a grand effort for earth, and an earth campaign that will eliminate poverty and pollution and bring new freedom, order and opportunity. This will happen as every individual chooses to act as a responsible trustee of earth.
The earth will continue to regenerate its life sources only as long as we and all the peoples of the world do our part to conserve its natural resources. It is a responsibility which every human being shares. Through voluntary action, each of us can join in building a productive land in harmony with nature. The vernal equinox calls on all mankind to recognize and respect Earth’s beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, the air, mankind, water, and land. Most importantly there must always be awareness the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance.
Earth is the third planet from the sun. Earth is divided into several layers which have distinct chemicals and seismic properties.
- 0 – 40 km – crust
- 40 – 400 km – upper mantle
- 400 – 650 km – transition region
- 650 – 2700 km – lower mantle
- 2700 – 2890 km – D” layer (lowermost mantle)
- 2890 – 5150 km – outer core
- 5150 – 6378 km – inner core
Earth is the densest major body in the solar system. The crust varies considerably in thickness; it is thinner under the ocean and thicker under the continents. The inner core and crust are solid; the outer core and mantle layers are semi fluid. The core is composed mostly of iron and some lighter elements. Temperature at the center of the core may be as high as 7500°C, hotter than the surface of the sun (6000°C). The lower mantle is mostly silicon, magnesium and oxygen with some iron, calcium and aluminum. The upper mantle is olivine and pyroxene (iron magnesium silicate), aluminum and calcium. Taken as a whole, the earth’s chemical composition is approximately 35 % iron, 30 % oxygen, 15 % silicon, 13% magnesium, 3 % nickel, 2 % sulfur and 0.1 % titanium.
Earth crust is divided into eight major plates and about twenty small plates which float around independently on top of the hot mantle below. 71% of the earth surface is covered with water. The heat capacity through ocean is very important in keeping the earth atmosphere relatively stable. Liquid water is also responsible for most of the erosion and weathering of the earth’s continent. Earth’s atmosphere is 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen with traces of argon, carbon dioxide and water. There was probably a very much larger amount of carbon dioxide in the earth when the earth was first formed, but it has since been almost all incorporated into carbonate rocks and to a lesser extent dissolved into the ocean and consumed by living plants. Plate tectonics and biological processes now maintain a continual flow of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to these various sinks and back again. The tiny amount of carbon dioxide resident in the atmosphere at any time is important to maintain earth’s surface temperature via green house effect. The green house effect raises an average surface temperature about 35°C above what it would otherwise be (from a frigid -21°C to a comfortable +14°C). Without green house effect, the ocean will freeze and life would be impossible.
Earth’s atmosphere shown in the figures clearly identifies the troposphere ( up to 10 km from the sea level), stratosphere (up to 50 km from the sea level), mesosphere (up to 90 km from the sea level) and above that is ionosphere, i.e.: thermosphere and exosphere (up to 1000 km). The troposphere to mesosphere is also called homosphere and the mesosphere to ionosphere is called heterosphere. Increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and reduced levels of ozone layer in the upper layers are concerns of today.
Energy Balance in the Atmosphere
Short wave length (optical wave length) radiation from the sun reaches the top of the atmosphere. Clouds reflect 17% back into space. If the earth gets cloudier, more radiation will be reflected back and less will reach the surface. 8% is scattered backward by air molecules. 6% is directly reflected off the surface back into space. So the total reflectivity of the earth is 31%. This is technically known as an Albedo. During ice ages, the Albedo of the earth increases as more of its surface is reflective. What happens to the 69% of the incoming radiation that doesn’t get reflection back: 19% gets observed directly by dust, ozone and water vapor in the atmosphere (stratosphere). Loss of stratospheric ozone is causing the stratosphere to cool with time, which, of course, greatly confusing the issue of global warming. 4% gets absorbed by clouds located in the lower part of the earth’s atmosphere where weather happens (troposphere). The remaining 46% of the sun light reaches the surface.
The short wavelength radiation is absorbed by the earth which heats the earth to a finite temperature. Since the earth wants to stay in thermal equilibrium (27°C), it must re-radiate the energy. The wavelength of the emitted radiation is in the infrared. If it all went directly into space, the earth would be a significantly colder place than it is. 15% is directly radiated back by the cloud free land surface, 6% of that is absorbed by the atmosphere and 9% goes back into space. 60% is irradiated into space. The remaining 31% is temporarily stored as energy and emitted back later. Of this, 31%, 24% is used to facilitate evaporation. This heat is later released to condensation. 7% is stored by the earth crust and then reradiated at later time through heat exchange network of convection and conduction. At a few meters below at the surface of the earth, the temperature is nearly constant because of this low heat flex. So clearly, if human activity increases the ability of the earth’s atmosphere to absorb infrared radiation, this produces a net warming of the atmosphere over time. This is the enhanced green house effect.
The Greenhouse Effect
Earth absorbs incoming solar radiation and then tries to cool by emitting long wavelength infrared radiation. Greenhouse effect is one of earth’s natural processes to regulate the temperature of our planet. It is essential for life on earth and is unquestionably real. It is a result of heat absorption by greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, oxides of nitrogen and chloro fluro carbon-CFC) in the lower atmosphere and re-radiation downward of some of that heat. Net effect is increase in mean annual temperature. Water vapor is the most abounded greenhouse gas followed by carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the earth would be about 0°F (-18°C) instead of it present 57°F (14°C). So, the concern is not with the fact that we have a greenhouse effect, but whether human activities are leading to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect by the emission of more and more greenhouse gases through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. Carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil and gas concentration is increasing at a rate of 1.9 ppm/year since 2000. The pre-industrial level of CO2 was about 280 ppm and the current level is about 380 ppm. IPCC projects the growth range from 490 ppm to 1260 ppm by the end of 21st century
Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collected in the atmosphere, like a thick blanket, trap the sun’s heat and cause the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution – they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually. Technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernize power plants and generate electricity from non-polluting sources, and cut our electricity. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientist says that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.
Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions dollars in damage in Texas. Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950’s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.
Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States in 2003; extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientist regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic’s perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade. Global warming doesn’t create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:
- Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.
- Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
- Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
- Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
- Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
Global warming could make large areas of the world uninhabitable and cause massive food and water shortages, sparking widespread migrations and war. While this prospect remains highly speculative, many of global warming’s effects are already being observed-and felt. And the idea that such extreme change is possible underscores the urgent need to start cutting global warming pollution. Although Americans make up just 4 percent of the world’s population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil – fuel burning-by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than china, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. As the world’s top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so – we already have the know-how. There are many simple steps you can take right now to cut global warming pollution. Make conserving energy a part of your daily routine. Each time you choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb. For example, you’ll lower your energy bill and keep nearly 700 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air over the bulb’s lifetime. By opting for a refrigerator with the Energy Star label-indicating it uses at least 15 percent less energy than the federal requirement – over a less energy-efficient model, you can reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a ton in total.
Climate is the average weather in a place over more than thirty years. The climate of a regional depends on many factors including the amount of sunlight it receives, its height above the sea level, the shape of the land, and how close it is to oceans. Since the equator receives more sunlight than the poles, climate varies depending on distance from the equator. Global climate is a description of the climate of a planet as a whole with all the regional differences averaged. Overall, global climate depends on the amount of energy received from the sun and the amount of energy that is trapped in the system. While the weather can change in just a few hours climate changes over longer timeframes. Global climate models describe how the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, living things, ice and energy from the sun. Other models take in to account many factors of the atmosphere, biosphere, giosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere to model the entire earth system. They take into account the interactions and feedbacks between different parts of the planet. Burning materials releases CO2 and other GHG into the atmosphere. Climate change is a serious threat to everywhere. The warming of our climate system is directly linked to human activity. Slowing or even reversing the existing trend of global warming is the defining challenge of our ages. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Increasing global air and ocean temperatures, rising global average sea level, reduction of snow and ice are changes we are facing today. Globally the area affected by drought increased since the 1970’s. The frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over most areas. There are now patterns of warming, changes in wind pattern, precipitation and some aspects of extremes and sea ice are projected in the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. Rate of global average sea level has risen from 1.8 mm/year to 3.1mm/year from 1961 to 1993. The reasons for sea level rise have been due to thermal expansion, melting glaciers and ice caps and the polar ice sheets. Projected sea level rise at the end of 21st century will be 18 to 59 cm.
Carbon offsetting is the act of mitigating GHG emissions. A well known example is the purchasing of offsets to compensate for the GHG emissions from personal air travel. The idea of paying for emissions reductions elsewhere instead of reducing one own emission is known as emissions trading. Carbon offsets refer to voluntary acts by individuals or companies that are arranged by commercial or non- profit carbon – offset providers. A wide variety of offset methods are in use. Tree planting was a mainstay of carbon offsetting. Renewable energy, energy conservation and methane capture have now become popular. Offsets may be cheaper or more convenient alternatives to reducing fuel consumption. Tree planting not only recreates natural forests (reforestation) and avoid deforestation, but also monoculture tree forming for logging, bio diesel production are other commercial purposes. There is also a forestation, which means establishing forest particularly on land not previously forested. This can produce higher carbon sequestration rates because the level of carbon in such land is comparatively low. Trees provide other benefits in addition to capturing CO2, such as providing organics mal habitants, providing renewable resources, such as building materials and preventing soil erosion. Tree sequesters carbon through photo synthesis, converting CO2 and water into molecular oxygen and plant organic matter, such as carbo hydrate. Hence, forests that grow in area or density and thus increase in organic biomass will reduce atmospheric CO2 level. In 2001 assessment, IPCC estimated the potential of mitigation on the order of 100Gt CO2 eq by 2050 mainly by trees.
Environment is not “out there”, it is the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we live, work and play. The present society, intend on achieving influences and conveniences, has forgotten how precious nature is? It is our duty to bequeath a clean mother earth to nurture all living beings. Air pollution affects everyone. Unless we act now, our children will inherit a hotter world, dirtier air and water, more severe floods and droughts and more wildfires. Climate is changing due to human activity. Potential increase of about 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit per year is observed.
Environmental pollution is a very big challenge we are faced with today. Emission sticks around us more than 100 years. It threatens the health of human beings and other living things on our planet. While often invisible, pollutants in the air create smog and acid rain, cause cancer or other serious health effects, diminish the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, and contribute to the potential for world climate change. Smog and other types of air pollution can lead to or aggravate respiratory, heart, and other health problem. It can be particularly harmful to people with existing lung or heart disease, the elderly, and the very young. Levels, extent, and duration of exposure, age, individual susceptibility, and other factors play a significant role in determining whether or not someone will experience pollution-related health problems. Since polluted air can move from one area or region to another, it has the potential to affect virtually all of us. Acid rain–caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides combining with moisture in the air-limits the ability of lakes to support, aquatic life, may damage trees and plants, and erodes building surfaces and national monuments. Air pollutants-called “air toxics”-are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as damage to respiratory or nervous systems. Air toxics include metals, particles, and certain vapors from fuels and other sources. Pollutants in the air can also reduce visibility, obscuring the majestic vistas in national parks such as Grand Canyon and Shenandoah. World Health Organization (WHO) estimated about 800,000 people die per year due to fine particle matter inhalation. A benefit of $ 175B is expected at the cost of $ 11B. Air pollution has many sources. Some sources are obvious-like industrial smokestacks, chemical plants, automobiles, trucks, and buses. Others are not so obvious–like gasoline stations; dry-cleaners; outboard motors; lawn, garden, farm, and construction equipment engines; certain paints; and various household products. Factors contributing to GHG emissions are reviewed.
Agricultural lands occupy about 40 to 50% of the earth’s land surface. Agriculture accounted for an estimated emission of 5.1 to 6.1 GtCO2-eq/yr. About 10 to 12% of total global anthropogenic emissions of GHGs. CH4 contributes 3.3 Gt CO2-eq/yr and N2O contributes 2.8 Gt CO2-eq/yr. Agricultural CH2 and N2O emissions have increased by nearly 17% from 1990 to 2005, an average emission increase of about 60 Mt CO2-eq/yr. A variety of options exists for mitigation of GHG emissions in agriculture improved agronomic practices, nutrient use tillage, residue management, restoration of organic soils are the most prominent option. Many mitigation opportunities can be implemented by technological improvements. Current initiatives suggest that synergy between climate change policies; sustainable development and improvements of environmental quality will likely lead the way forward to realize the mitigation potential in agriculture.
Post-consumer waste contributes less than 5% GHG emissions (1300Mt CO2-eq/yr). The largest source is landfill methane (CH4) followed by waste water CH4 and N2O in addition to minor emission of N2O result from incineration of waste containing fossil carbon. A range of environmentally effective technologies are available to mitigate GHGs in this sector.
Energy conservation and efficiency go a long way preserving our planet’s rich natural resources and promoting a healthy environment. We all can play a vital role to reduce demand, cut energy cost, and protect our precious natural resources. Combustion of fossil fuel continues to dominate a global energy market that is striving to meet the ever-increasing demand for heat, electricity and transport fuels. Green house gas emissions from fossil fuels have increased despite greater deployment of low-and zero-carbon technologies. Global dependents on fossil fuels has led to the release of over 1100 Gt CO2 in to the atmosphere since the mid of 19th century. 70% of the total GHG emissions are from fossil fuel combustion for heat supply, electricity generation and transport. Primary research resource potential is fossil fuels, coal and peat gaseous fuels such as natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum natural gas, petroleum fuel unconventional oil, Nuclear energy. Renewable energy such as hydro electricity, wind biomass and bio energy, geo thermal energy, solar energy, solar thermal electric, solar photovoltaic, Solar heating and cooling and ocean energy. Complex interactions between energy sources and energy carriers to meet societal need for energy services as used by transport, buildings, industry sectors are shown below.The transition from conventional gas and oil carriers to new energy supply has begun. However the global energy supply will continue to be dominating fossil fuel for several years. The need for investment in R&D of all low- carbon- emission technologies, tied with the efficient marketing of these products, is vital to climate policy. The high investment cost required to build energy-system infrastructure is a major barrio to sustainable development. Comprehensive renewable energy promotion approach should be lounged wherever needed. Future investment in R&D should determine
- Future security of energy supplies
- Accessibility, availability and affordability of energy services
- Attainment of sustainable development
- Free market of energy supply to all countries
- Deployment of low-carbon energy carriers and conversion technologies
- The quantity of GHG emitted for the rest of the century and
- Achievement of GHG stabilization concentration levels
Transport activity, a key component of economic development and human welfare, is increasing around the world as economics grow. Economic development and transport are inextricably linked. Development increases transport demand, while availability of transport stimulates even more development by allowing trade and economic specialization. Industrialization and growing specialization have created the need for large shipments of goods and materials over substantial distances; accelerating globalization has greatly increased these flows. Urbanization has been extremely rapid in the past century. About 75% of the people in the industrialized world and 40% of the developing world now live in urban areas. Cities have grown larger. A parallel trend has been the decentralization of cities with rapid growth in suburban areas and the rise of edge cities in the outer suburb. This decentralization has created a growing demand for travel. The result has been a rapid increase in vehicles-not only cars but also 2-wheelers- and a declining share of transit. Transport predominantly relies on a single fossil resource, petroleum that supplies 95% of the total energy used by world transport. Transport activity is expected to grow robustly over the next decades unless there is a major shift away from current patent of energy use, world transport energy use is projected to increase at the rate of about 2% per year, with a highest rate of growth in the emerging economics, and total transport energy use and carbon emissions is projected to be about 80% higher than current levels by 2030. GHG emissions associated with vehicles can be reduced by;
- Reducing the loads on the vehicles. Weight rolling and air resistance and accessory loads can reduce the work needed to operate the vehicle. A 10% weight reduction from a total vehicle weight can improve fuel economy by 4 – 8%.
- Changing to a less carbon-intensive fuel; and
- Increasing the efficiency of converting the fuel energy to work. Improvement in aerodynamic performance offers important gains for vehicles operating at high speed.
- Reducing emissions of non-CO2 GHGs from vehicle exhaust
The most promising strategy for the reduction of GHG emissions is the improvements in current vehicle technologies. Electric drive technologies, including hybrid electric power trains, fuel cells and battery electric cells, use of alternative fuels such as natural gas, biofuels, electricity and hydrogen in combination with improved conventional and advanced technologies; provides the potential for even larger reduction. Even with all these improved technologies and fuels, it is expected that petroleum will retain its dominant share of transport energy use and that transport GHG emissions will continue to increase into the foreseeable future. Only with sharp changes in economic growth, major behavioral shits, and/or major policy intervention would transport GHG emissions decrease substantially.
Transportation sector emits more heat trapping gases than most countries release from all sources together. There are about one billion vehicles on the road. Automobile companies are committed to comply with environmental regulations and norms stipulated by Environmental Pollution control agencies. Controlling air pollution is a complex issue. How clean is the air finally depends on how good are our engines, how good they remain over time, how clean is the fuel and the nature of the transport system we have? All people involved, from automobile and petroleum industry to government regulators and policy makers, transport planners and vehicle users, therefore have to do their job if we take this issue head on. Everyone can play a role in preventing and reducing air pollution. This publication describes efforts already underway, provides you with some basic air pollution information, and suggests ways that you can do your part in helping to prevent and reduce air pollution. By reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy.
Major Air Pollutants
The principal pollutants from gasoline-powered vehicles are hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). For diesel-powered vehicles and engines, NOx and particulate matter (PM) are the principal pollutants; HC and CO are also emitted.
Hydrocarbons react with other compounds in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system and cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, and headaches, as well as aggravate asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Most recently, EPA scientists have also discovered that ozone pollution can cause permanent scarring of the lung tissue. Ozone also can destroy vegetation, reduce crop yield, and damage exposed materials by contributing to cracking, fading, and weathering.
CO can place stress on both the heart and lungs, and may retard fetal growth and mental development as well. NOx emissions can damage the respiratory system and lower resistance to respiratory infections. Older people, young children, and those with chronic respiratory problems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of these emissions. In addition, NOx emissions contribute to the formation of ozone and acid rain.
PM emissions have been linked with premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. An EPA has established air quality standards designed to protect the health and welfare of people, plants, and animals as well as buildings, monuments, water resources, etc. These standards are based on currently available scientific data and health studies. Levels of concern vary from pollutant. Six pollutants-ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Federal Government brainstormed to set standards.
Air Pollution Control
Automobile pollution controls in the early 1970s were less sophisticated by today’s standards. But to meet the tougher standards, the 1975 models introduced a number of advanced technologies, such as improved water proof and heat-resistant ignition systems and the catalytic converter, or catalyst, as it is often called. The introduction of advanced emission control technology, led by the catalytic converter, sparked an automotive revolution that saw the beginning of a dramatic and continuing reduction in automobile pollution that is still progressing today. Since the late 1970s and 1980s, catalyst technology has improved and electronic controls and improved fuel delivery systems have been introduced. In addition, engine life has improved by at least a factor of two, coupled with reduced maintenance and longer spark plug and exhaust system life. Key components of this technology are the catalytic converters, advanced ignition systems, fuel injection, on-board computers, and electronic controls, indeed, since 1975; vehicles equipped with these advanced control systems have reduced pollution by over three billion tons worldwide by reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy. Cost-effective technologies to reduce warming pollution from cars and light trucks of all sizes are available now. There is no reason to wait and hope that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will solve the problem in the future. Hybrid gas-electric engines can cut global warming pollution by one-third or more today; hybrid sedans, SUVs and trucks from several automakers are already on the market. Automakers should be doing a lot more: They’ve used a legal loophole to make SUVs for less fuel efficient than they could be; the popularity of these vehicles has generated a 20 percent increase in transportation-related carbon dioxide pollution since the early 1990s. Closing this loophole and requiring SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks to be as efficient as cars would cut 120 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year by 2010. If automakers used the technology they have right now to raise fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks to a combined 40 m.p.g, carbon dioxide pollution would eventually drop by more than 650 million tons per year as these vehicles replaced older models.
The catalytic converter promotes the conversion of hydrocarbon (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) in the engine’s exhaust into carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) and water (H2O) vapor. A scheme of a catalytic converter is shown in Figure.
The catalytic converter used on an automobile is a stainless steel canister that contains either ceramic heads or a honeycomb-like structure. There are no moving parts, just acres of interior surfaces where catalytic metals – platinum (Pt), rhodium (Rh), and/or palladium (Pt) –are uniformly deposited. The active surface area is so thin in either type of converter that less than two-tenths of a troy ounce of the metal is required. The exact combination of these noble metals differ according to the application and whether the particular converter is intended to control CO and HC or must also control NOx, in any case, by the time most of the harmful gases that enter the canister emerge from the other end, they have been changed to harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2).
The first type of converter introduced was the oxidation converter, which was designed to control HC and CO and required some means of introducing air to boost the performance of the catalyst. They were called catalytic oxidation converters (COC) because they transformed harmful pollutants into harmless gases by the oxidation of HC and CO. The next generation of converters, the three-way catalytic converters, can simultaneously convert all three major pollutants from gasoline-powered vehicles- NOx, as well as HC and CO. They do this by converting the NOx and some of the CO emissions into nitrogen and CO2 while oxidizing the HC emissions and remaining CO into CO2 and water vapor. Today’s gasoline-fueled vehicles are equipped with electronic fuel injection controls to keep the air/fuel ratio mixture at the exact ratio needed to complete combustion without an excess of air or fuel to allow the three-way converter to function at maximum effectiveness.
The concept behind a catalyst is that the device causes chemical reaction without being changed or consumed. Catalyst technology has continued to evolve through the 1980s and 1990s and into the 21st century, providing increasingly more efficient, durable, and cost-effective control technology. Developed originally for gasoline-powered automobiles, catalyst technology is now used on light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks and buses, and has been applied to vehicles using a variety of fuels including diesel, natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and propane. Countries throughout the world have followed the United States’ lead in cleaning up automobile pollution. For example, countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia have implemented emission standards which are being met by catalyst-equipped vehicles. To date, over 500 million vehicles worldwide have been equipped with catalysts and other advanced emission control technology components and by 2010 over 95 percent of the new automobiles sold around the world will have a catalysts converter.
Motor vehicle pollution has been substantially reduced with the help of advanced emission control technology for gasoline-powered vehicles. Over the past 33 years, EPA has effectively designed, implemented, and enforced the motor vehicle emission control program to achieve the clean air objectives mandated by Congress. The State of California has also played a vital role in helping to shape the evolution of the U.S. motor vehicle emission control program pre-dates the national program and standards initially adopted by California have often become the U.S. requirements. Worldwide, the market for motor vehicle emission controls is expected to grow substantially. The world market for emission control technologies was approximately $12 billion in the early 1990s and about $35.6 billion in 1998. In 2010, the world market is expected to approach $72.3 billion.
The expanding domestic and international markets for motor vehicle emission controls, as well as other environmental products and services, will create new, high-skill and high paying jobs in the world. Advanced emission control technology has contributed to the high tech nature of today’s gasoline-powered vehicles. A full range of available and emerging technologies and strategies exist to help reduce emissions. To reduce PM and/or HC, oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, engine modifications, and crankcase emission controls can be employed. Catalyst – based strategies will also reduce the familiar pungent odor emitted by diesels. For NOx control, lean NOx catalysts, NOx adsorbers, selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) can be employed.
New diesel engines are only part of the air quality challenge; existing diesel-powered vehicles and equipment have remained in use for decades. Fortunately, many of the advanced diesel emission control technologies listed above can be employed to significantly reduce pollution from existing diesel engines. Over 40,000 diesel particulate filters and 550,000 oxidation catalysts have already been retrofitted on diesel engines worldwide. The key milestones of the remarkable evolution in advanced motor vehicle emission control technology are listed below:
Major Emission Control Milestones
- 1950 California determined new car emitting 13g/mile HC, 3.6 g/mile NOx and 87 g/mile CO causing smoggy skies over Los Angeles. Since then, Federal Govt. brainstormed to set air quality standard.
- 1964 California requires emission control systems on 1966 Model Year (MY) car.
- 1966 Federal Government requires emission control on all 1968 and later MY cars.
- 1970 Federal Government adopts first clean air act and establishes US EPA. (1975 MY cars must meet 0.41 g/mile HC, 3.4 g/mile CO, NOx 0.4 g/mile)
- 1971 New cars must meet evaporative emission standards (charcoal canisters to trap gasoline vapors appear).
- 1972 Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valves implemented to reduce NOx.
- 1974 Federal Government adopts the Energy Policy Conservation Act establishing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program.
- 1975 First catalytic converter appears, with unleaded gasoline, to meet the HC and CO standards. Three-way catalyst strategy development to simultaneously control HC, CO and NOx.
- 1977 Federal Government amends the Clean Air Act. HC standard delayed until 1980, and CO and NOx until 1981.
- 1980 First commercial Pt/Rh Three Way Catalyst (TWC) commercialized.
- 1981 On Board Diagnostics (OBD) and oxygen sensors appear in most vehicles.
- 1985 EPA adapts stringent emission standards for diesel powered trucks and busses to take effect in 1991 and 1994.
- 1988 High temperature resistant catalyst formulations for TWC developed.
- 1989 First Pd only TWC catalyst developed and commercialized.
- 1990 Federal Government amends Clean Air Act with lower tailpipe HC and NOx standards, effective 1994 MY.
- 1992 Emission limits for CO at cold temperature (20°F) established. Oxygenated gasoline introduced.
- 1993 Sulfur limits on diesel fuels takes effect to reduce particulate matter emissions in diesel vehicles.
- 1994 Clean Air Act phase-in begins for cleaner vehicles.
- 1998 LEV II California standards established
- 2002 Heavy duty Standard
- 2004 LEV II California standard phase-in begins
- 2007 Particulate Filter implemented in diesel operated vehicles
- 2008 Tier IV off-road standard phase-in begins
- 2010 New NOx standard. Introduction of NOx reduction systems in diesel vehicles
Although future air-quality mandates appear to be major obstacles for the automotive industry, history has shown that we can successfully tackle such challenges. Over a period of 33 years, automotive emissions have been reduced by up to 99%, while at the same time vehicles have become safer, more efficient, more powerful and far more durable. Demanding corporate average fuel efficiency, stringent emissions, cost reduction, weight reduction, and extended warranty continuously push vehicle manufacturers to partner with system suppliers to ensure future platforms outperform these requirements. Exhaust system product development approaches a new decade to meet near – zero emissions of hydrocarbon in cold start, NOx reduction in oxidation environment and nano particles filtration and regeneration. In order to meet the near-zero emissions, Hydrocarbon traps, NOx traps and Particulate traps are needed in the exhaust after treatment system. So, Rajadurai calls this decade as, “A Decade of Traps” (2007-2017). A system development approach is very critical since the impact of every component plays a vital role to bring a cleaner, lighter, and smarter solution. System development driven through trial and error attempts by experts who successfully employ heuristics (a set of empirical rules gained through time and experience) will not be able to meet current demanding needs. Deterministic computational modeling and engineering, using advanced modeling tools and simulation provide major inroads to design, develop, and optimize exhaust after treatment system from concept to manufacturing.
How to Fight Global Warming
The biggest cause of global warming is the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels like oil and coal for burning energy. So when you save energy, you fight global warming and save money, of course. Some of the steps to do:
- Raise your voice to steer the world for cleaner cars and cleaner power plans. We have to send a clear message to the policy makers that they will be accountable for what they do – or fail to do – about global warming.
- Choose an efficient vehicle giving higher mileage for fuel and least polluting. This cut fuel cost and fuel dependency.
- Drive Smart. Do not drive the car with flat tires etc. A proper tune up can boost 4 to 40% miles/gallon; a new air filter could get 10% more miles per gallon.
- Drive Less. Choose alternative to driving when possible (public transit, biking, walking, car pooling) and bundle your errands together to make fewer trips.
- Buy energy and efficiency appliances and replace light bulbs with compact fluorescence bulbs. We must use more efficient appliances and equipment in our homes and offices to reduce our electricity needs. We can also phase out the decades –old, coal-burning power plants that generate most of our electricity and replace them with cleaner plants. And we can increase our use of renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Some states are moving in this direction: California has required its largest utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and New York has pledged to compel power companies to provide 25 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2013. Choose renewable energy. Generate power from wind, solar energy and clean sources.
Try to Live Green
The globalization of the world’s people and nations, in their cultures, economics, and politics is accelerating. Those commenting on this globalization often focus on the collectivization of all individual into an organic system. A look toward the distant future, the year 3000, allows the very imaginative to think about the future without much constraint. So much has happened in only 100 years, it is not very reliable to explore trends a full millennium into the future.
So, it’s an earth day and time to reflect on personal practice. There are a lot of talks about innovative solutions. The objective is what you can do to achieve the results. Our family planted community supported agriculture farms to deliver fresh, organic produce. Many of our family members are serious sustainable agricultural enthusiast. Our reflection and projections should acknowledge this reality. Certain principles concerning man and his habitat can be stated as guidelines towards the future. Man’s long term welfare is depended on a fruitful and resourceful environment. No individuals flourish when the habitat is degraded. The basic dignity of work by every person for physical sustenance must be coupled with environmental stewardship. This stewardship has both individual and common elements, meaning that each person has both individual and societal responsibilities in the use and enjoyment of our common habitat. Appropriate stewardship features are summed up in the concept of an earth trustee, because a trustee is one who has not only the inherent responsibility as an individual for proper earth care, but also the change to exercise earth – care function for the common good. Our view of the future, even the very distant future of the year 3000, should be seen as an exercise of prospective forecasting. We not only want to fix the future but also to help bring about the best future. Recognizing the dignity of a person, the benefits of responsible diversity in human society in accord with man’s social nature, and the importance of every person being an earth trustee, will promote the best development of humanities future. Several ways to reduce environmental pollution are explored and the awareness education implemented. Several points we identified to initially promote improvements in the areas of waste management, energy conservation, water conservation and purchasing practice.
Rajadurai’s Efforts on GHG Emission Reduction
Dr. Rajadurai, born in an agricultural family in a small village, Mylaudy in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, South India, began inveighing climate change nearly 28 years ago. He has planted more than 30,000 trees from 1980 to till date in his local village lands. He supports efforts to composting and waste management. He educates children about their immediate environment to impart knowledge about the intricacies of the eco-systems, through field visits to install in them the spirit of scientific inquiry into environmental problem and involve in the efforts of environmental conservation. He offers emission control awareness lectures to young college students and Industrial engineers.
What needs to be done?
Emission control systems were implemented in the US in 1975 and in India in 1998. Due to various factors such as engine control, clean fuel availability, and emission requirements, there is a gap in the approaches. India is aggressively implementing emission control systems in new vehicles. Yet, a proactive cooperation between industries on a global basis is needed to transfer concept knowledge into confident product. India is rich in catalysis knowledge. Research and Development in National Laboratories and Technical Institutes succeeded catalyst development for various industrial applications. We need thrust initiatives on automotive catalyst development. Catalysis knowledge gained in organic and petrochemical areas are key elements for future alternate fuels and advanced emission control technologies. Product developments need to be implemented to close the gap between innovative research and industrial applications. Engineers need be trained on New Product Introduction, Product Development and Advanced Lean Manufacturing. Creative cooperation on Product Development is required between Global Industries and Science and Technology Research and Development Organizations.
We all can agree that we have only one Earth – a miracle planet teeming with life. With our amazing technology and awareness of earth’s raw materials and natural resources we know that poverty and pollution, the breeding of crime and corruption, can quickly be eliminated. All that is needed is the will.
“Arise, Awake and Stop not Till the Goal is Reached”
– Swami Vivekananda
- International Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) Report, 1988, 2007
- John McConnell’s Earth Day documentary and Earth Day Proclamation
- Global warming basics, Natural Resources defense council (NDRC) Report
Dr. Sivanandi Rajadurai, Ph.D.
Dr. Sivanandi Rajadurai is the Vice President of ACS Industries Inc. He has a mix of academic and industrial experience. Dr. Rajadurai has been involved in catalyst and exhaust product development for the last 32 years. Dr. Sivanandi Rajadurai received his Ph.D. (1979) in Physical Chemistry (Heterogeneous Catalysis) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. He worked as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at The American College, Madurai and Loyola College, Madras (1979-85). He held research faculty position at the University of Notre Dame (1985-90). He worked as a Research Leader and Director of Research at Cummins Engine Company and Molecular Technology Corporation (1990-96), Director of Advanced Development at Tenneco Automotive (1996-02) and Director of Emissions Systems at ArvinMeritor Inc. (2002-2004) and now as Vice President of ACS Industries. He invented a series of novel solid oxide solutions for pollution abatement reactions. He is the author of more than 100 technical papers and several patents on solid oxide solutions, free radicals, structure sensitivity of catalysts, mixed oxide catalysts, SCR and SNCR NOx reduction systems, and catalytic converter designs.
Dr. Rajadurai is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is a life member of North American Catalysis Society, North American Photo Chemical Society, Catalysis Society of India, Instrumental Society of India, Bangladesh Chemical Society and Indian Chemical Society. He was the UNESCO representative of India on low-cost analytical studies (1983-85). He was awarded the Tenneco Innovation Award in 1998, 1999 for developing computer-aided tools for converter design and for validating low noble metal catalytic converter. He received the General Manager’s Leadership Award (1998) and also the 2000 Vision Award for developing strategies for cleaner, quieter, and safer transportation. He is an active participant in Clean and Green Earth Day demonstrations since 1997 and US Clean Diesel School Bus Summit (2003) at Washington D.C. Dr. Rajadurai is a panelist of the Automotive R&D Scientists and Technologists of Indian Origin, New Delhi 2004.
Mrs. Fatima Rajadurai is the executive assistant of the office of the Vice President, Exhaust Product Development, and ACS Industries. Graduated in Economics from Madurai University, India (1973), Mrs. Fatima earned her certificate on Computer Aided Design from University of Notre Dame (1986). She is supporting the research activities of Dr. Rajadurai for the last 26 years. Mrs. Fatima assisted publishing more than 44 papers and 33 papers in scientific journals, 11 patents and more than 95 technical reports.