Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA professor develops emissions-limiting product

Marcus Ashford, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has developed a product capable of curbing tailpipe emissions from vehicles.

Rick Swatloski, licensing associate for the office of technology transfer, said the product, called the Vapor Emissions System, has been licensed to Emission and Power Solutions.

According to a staff newsletter about Ashford’s product and its licensing, Emission and Power Solutions is a “clean tech company that licenses, acquires, develops, deploys and transfers technologies dedicated to improving fuel economy while also reducing environmentally harmful exhaust emissions.”

Swatloski said Ashford’s innovation would fit well with the company’s line of merchandise.

“This fits well with what the company does, and it’s great that we can give them some more products to introduce to the market,” Swatloski said.

Swatloski said the majority of the research needed for the product will still be carried out in campus laboratories.

“We are particularly good at inventing and doing lab-based research, but the company will assume the responsibility of introducing the product to the market once the research is complete,” Swatloski said. “It’s hard to predict, though, when the Vapor Emissions System will be ready [for sale].”

Ashford said he has been working on a means to curtail the tailpipe emissions released after the initial two minutes of cranking the engine.

“There are very high emissions released from the tailpipe when the car is first started,” Ashford said. “Sixty to 95 percent of a car’s tailpipe emissions occur during the first two minutes of cranking the engine.”

Ashford said his product traps fuel vapor hovering above the gasoline in the vehicle’s fuel tank and bottles that vapor in a smaller tank for processing.

“Fuel does not vaporize easily, but it has to [do so] before it burns,” Ashford said. “Sitting above the fuel tank is a lot of fuel vapor, and half of the emissions from a tailpipe are vapor getting loose. So, if I could start the car with just vapor, I could cure tailpipe emissions.”

Ashford said he has had to tackle a number of problems while researching the Vapor Emissions System.

“I’m not the first person to think of doing this,” Ashford said. “The trick is that the fuel vapor has other stuff in it, like air, which has to be taken out. That problem has now been tackled.”

Ashford plans to collaborate with Emission and Power Solutions for further research and testing.

He also said he wants to test his product on both old and new vehicles under different environmental conditions.

“A fact of life is that a vehicle only had to meet the emissions regulations created at the time of its manufacture,” Ashford said. “Older vehicles are [consequently] responsible for the majority of emissions, which is why states like California are doing everything they can to get these older cars off the road.”

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