Air pollution in Australian cities, while by global standards is generally considered good, still remains an issue with the World Health Organisation estimating 3000 premature deaths per year linked to urban air pollution and is only going to get worse with population growth.
Long-term exposure to diesel fumes has also been linked to a raft of health issues including dementia, cancer, slower learning progress in children, smaller children in the womb and potentially contributing to long term PTSD in defence personnel.
Diesel particulates specifically are the most damaging to humans, animal and plant health, leading to a growing number of countries around the world banning the future sale of diesel or fossil-fuel cars including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, as well as the European nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal as well as Costa Rica in Central America.
Vehicles, especially those that run on diesel, and coal-fired power stations are the main source of Australia’s nitrogen dioxide or NO2 emissions. Diesel-reducing technology provides effective solution to environmental and health risks.
While also helping the government to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, an engineering solution, such as a stop start motor technology, can address both issues in significantly reducing diesel emissions in fossil-fuel powered vehicles and machinery.
Brisbane-based leading hydraulic engineer Norm Mathers has investigated the issue with the worlds’ leading scientists and engineers through his Australian innovation company Mathers Hydraulics Technologies (MHT)
The company has developed a technology that reduces diesel emissions by turning engines off when idle, yet most importantly provides instant high-speed start for immediate traffic response, thereby significantly reducing emissions in heavy traffic conditions.
Diesel reducing technology has been most recently applied by giant global machinery manufacturer Caterpillar, where hydraulic energy capture into hydraulic accumulators saved up to a massive 40 per cent CO2 emissions on hydraulic excavators. Transference of this excavator technology under the guidance of the recently retired Caterpillar hydraulic research manager Dr Philip McCluskey, a key member of the MHT team, is predicted to achieve significant similar savings in both truck and other machinery use such as wheel loaders, heavy forklifts, agricultural tractors and harvesters, etc.
“In a mining and construction environment as well as defence with heavy-use diesel-powered machines, stop-start technology as well as other proven diesel-reducing features should be mandated as a workplace health and safety requirement,” Mathers said.
The Australian Government has mandated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, significantly less than the EU Commission’s target of a minimum of 40 per cent and specifically a 35 per cent reduction on trucks alone.
“In order for the government to meet these targets, which in my opinion should be in line with the global community such as the EU Commission, it is impossible unless you can capture braking energy in trucks and buses,” Mathers added.
“Specifically, it has to be applied to all Class 8 trucks and buses as well as all underground and above ground mining machinery where incidences of black lung and other fatal illnesses are on the rise due to high levels of exposure to diesel particulates.”
A key priority of the government must remain that of reducing Australia’s air pollution, primarily diesel fumes, given the proven immediate and increasing long term health risks facing Australians, according to Mathers.