Mercedes goes blue to go green

13 April 2006

Blue has become the new green at Mercedes. The company is pressing ahead with its Bluetec technology to reduce the sooty particulates from diesel engines, and wants to have it available in Europe 'by 2008 at the latest'.

Bluetec will be launched in the E320 CDI in America this year. Mercedes claims it makes its 3.0-litre V6 the cleanest diesel in the world.

It uses an extra exhaust catalyst to remove nitrous oxide (NOx) – the sooty particulates that many environmentalists believe can cause cancer. Fear of the effects of NOx in cities is one reason why diesel has never succeeded in America the way it has in Europe.

However, extra catalysts mean higher emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and heavier fuel consumption – two things of concern to European governments and drivers, especially in the UK, where company car tax scales are linked to CO2 output.

So Mercedes is working on a second system that uses a chemical additive to reduce NOx without pushing up CO2. That chemical is a naturally occurring one called urea, which Mercedes has renamed Adblue.

The additive is already in use in trucks and is available at 1500 filling stations in the European mainland.

It has not yet been decided which car will be the first to get Adblue tchnology, but it is likely to be one of Mercedes' costlier models. The technology will be expensive, adding anything up to 2% to the price of a car, until widescale production brings down costs.

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