111405beijing.jpgClean Diesel Technologies,
a small US company, has signed a distribution agreement that could see
its novel diesel filters reduce air pollution in Chinese cities.

CDT, which is listed in London, has licenced the technology, manufacturing and distribution rights for its patented filter to Extengine Transport Systems, a US firm that specialises in the same field and is already established in China.

says its filter, which uses a catalyst-covered wire mesh, has been
successfully demonstrated to meet the proposed emissions requirements
of China's State Environment Protection Administration.

tests were conducted by retrofitting the devices to some heavy-duty
construction equipment in Beijing and, according to a Chinese official
quoted by CDT, the “results were impressive.”

The results showed
the devices reduced the black smoke between 40% and 50%, even on diesel
fuels with a high sulphur content. The device can work with high- or
low-sulphur fuels and even biodiesel.

Like a lot of small
western companies trying to engage with China for the first time, CDT
faces the big problem of simply getting its technology known. To date
is has concentrated on expanding its customer and distributor base in
the UK and Europe, but the deal with Extengine opens up a potentially
huge market and means in doesn't have build its own distribution
network in China.

The filter is designed to be retrofitted to
existing engines and according to CDT, China has over 3m diesel-engine
vehicles, construction equipment and generators that could benefit from
the technology.

The deal also covers North America where
Extengine says there is much interest in retrofitting diesel vehicles
in California and New York City. But what strikes me about this
agreement is that China is put on a par with these western markets
rather than, as is so often the case, mentioned as a market with
“longer term”potential.

The air above Beijing is the most
polluted in the world and in the past five years the number of vehicles
clogging the capital's streets has more than doubled to 2.5m, according to the Guardian
newspaper. Air pollution has become so bad in Beijing that city
officials fear it is discouraging foreign investors from locating to
the capital.

US Environmental Protection Agency is working with SEPA and local
agencies on a range of clean fuels and vehicles initiatives in China.
For example, 20 Beijing buses have been retrofitted with clean diesel technology
in a demonstration project. That's a drop in the ocean, however, as
Beijing has about 19,000 buses of which 5,000 have diesel engines.

existing vehicles with clean diesel technologies, while hardly a
complete solution to China's worsening air pollution problem, is
nevertheless a much-needed move in the right direction.

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