SAE-NIS symposium addresses role of fuels and lubricants in addressing India’s pollution problems

Indias government has been working to frame norms for heavy-duty vehicles that would tackle the countrys growing air pollution problem, according to Ambuj Sharma, additional secretary at Indias Ministry of Heavy Industry, who spoke at a symposium last week in New Delhi.

The “Symposium on Fuels, Lubricants, Emission and After-Treatment Devices: The Road Ahead,” was organized by SAE Northern India Section (SAE-NIS) in association with Maruti Suzuki, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. (IOCL) and the Emission Control Manufacturers Association (ECMA).

P. Panda, vice president at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and senior vice chairman of SAE-NIS, pointed out that 20 Indian cities are among the 50 most polluted cities in the world.

Sharma expressed great concern over the present situation, which he attributed in some ways to the increasing dependency on road transport, as a result of Indias economic and population growth. He said that with Indias growing middle class, today there are 18 vehicles per 1,000 people in India, versus four vehicles per 1,000 people in 2006. These numbers are expected to triple within a span of eight years, he said.

The lack of infrastructure has played a major role in the lack of availability of less polluting fuels, such as ethanol, he said. Budget allocations for scientific research has been lacking as well, hampering the growth of new technologies.

He discussed legislations which were framed by the government to improve fuel quality. He said that the plan is to implement Bharat Stage (BS) V by 2020. BS IV fuel will be available throughout the nation by 2016-2017, he said. The roadmap to transition from BS IV to BS V, and ultimately to BS VI, has been prepared under India’s second automotive plan, which will be implemented in phases from 2016 to 2026.

The government also has extended financial help to encourage the adoption of mild hybrid technology and has supported the local automotive industry to raise its quality to world standards.

A panel discussion chaired by M.O. Garg from the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) also revealed the impact of poor road conditions, traffic congestion, etc. on pollution from vehicles. The panel pointed out that the number of vehicles on Indian roads are still less compared to other countries, but other factors, such as those mentioned above, aggravate the situation.

Air pollution does not only come from vehicular emissions, however, so the problem has to be addressed from a broader perspective, the panelists pointed out.

During a discussion on the latest trends in emissions technologies, Bernhard Mencher from Bosch GmBH, said that the conditions in India are unique so European and other foreign emissions standards and emission control technologies cannot be applied en toto, but need to be modified as per Indian conditions.

Walter Kudlich from Afton Chemical said that fuel economy benefits cannot be expected to come free, and that measures like lowering oil viscosity to improve fuel economy has certain limitations and going too far can impact hardware durability.

Kailash Sawant from IOCL (R&D) said that after-treatment devices are the key enablers to meeting emission control standards and that advanced oil technologies are required to maintain durability in these new hardware. He also stressed on the need for further investments in R&D like in SAPS (Sulphated Ash, Phosphorous, Sulphur) oils to address hardware durability and other technical problems arising from the use of low-viscosity oils.

There were a series of informative talks by about 30 speakers during the two-day symposium. The symposium ended on a note of thanks to the speakers by Anup Kacker, executive director, SAE-NIS.

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