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Thursday, March 1, 2018

'krishnoil' ?!? ~ German top court rules 'heavily polluting vehicles can be banned' !

Have you seen or used ‘Krishnoil’ (there is no divinity attached to it !) ~ though not All India Motor Tariff parameter, some Insurers do distinguish between petrol and diesel versions of the same make model vehicle !!

Volkswagen was in news for wrong – as it is alleged to have been cheating in emission tests by making its cars appear far less polluting than they are. The US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that 482,000 VW diesel cars on American roads were emitting up to 40 times more toxic fumes than permitted - and VW has since admitted the cheat affects 11m cars worldwide.

In case you are baffled ‘krishnoil’ was a household name of 1970s – it is the ‘kerosene oil’ – which according to a study by researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois – the Globe has  been overlooking a significant source of black carbon pollution: Kerosene lanterns, used as a primary light source for millions of people worldwide.

Kerosene, also known as paraffin, lamp oil, and coal oil (an obsolete term), is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum, widely used as a fuel in industry as well as households. Its name derives from Greek: κηρός (keros) meaning wax, and was registered as a trademark by Canadian geologist and inventor Abraham Gesner in 1854 before evolving into a genericized trademark.  Kerosene is widely used to power jet engines of aircraft (jet fuel) and some rocket engines and is also commonly used as a cooking and lighting fuel and for fire toys such as poi.  I have heard of roadside mechanics using kerosene to power their two wheelers !!  The research claims that  the black carbon soot from kerosene lanterns is twenty times higher than is currently assumed when factoring in this light source into calculations of total black carbon emissions.  Black carbon is increasingly being cited as a significant factor in global warming, as well as in glacier melting.  So Scientists would want to poor to phase out kerosene stoves and look for a costlier alternative !

The diesel engine, named after Rudolf Diesel, is an internal combustion engine in which ignition of the fuel which is injected into the combustion chamber is caused by the elevated temperature of the air in the cylinder due to mechanical compression.  This contrasts with spark-ignition engines such as a petrol engine that  uses a spark plug to ignite an air-fuel mixture. The diesel engine has the highest thermal efficiency (engine efficiency) of any practical internal or external combustion engine due to its very high expansion ratio and inherent lean burn which enables heat dissipation by the excess air. Diesel engines may be designed as either two-stroke or four-stroke cycles. Since the 1910s they have been used in submarines and ships. Use in locomotives, trucks, heavy equipment and electricity generation plants followed later.  Since the 1970s, the use of diesel engines in larger on-road and off-road vehicles in the US increased.  Production diesel car history started in 1933  with Citroën's Rosalie, which featured a diesel engine option; Mercedes-Benz 260D and the Hanomag Rekord were introduced in 1936.  The biggest single step forward for mass-market diesel cars came in 1982 when PSA Peugeot Citroën introduced the XUD engine in the Peugeot  ~ and this type of  cars started the diesel boom in Europe spreading to other continents as well.

Now comes the news that – one  of Germany’s top courts has ruled that heavily polluting vehicles can be banned from the urban centres of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, a landmark ruling that could dramatically hit the value of diesel cars. Environmental campaigners had sued dozens of German cities, arguing they have a duty to cut air pollution to protect people’s health.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig found that authorities in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, two of Germany’s most polluted cities, can now legally ban older, more polluting vehicles, but the ruling will have an impact on the whole country, paving the way for other cities to introduce bans.  The court did not impose any bans itself, leaving that up to city and municipal authorities. The judges did however urge them to “exercise proportionality” and said any curbs should be introduced gradually and allow for certain exemptions.

About 70 German cities including Munich and Cologne recorded average nitrogen dioxide levels above EU thresholds in 2017, according to the federal environment agency (UBA).  The car industry has been vocal about its opposition to a ban, as has the German government, fearing it would hugely disrupt the lives of diesel car owners, who will not only find themselves unable to drive their cars but also in possession of vehicles that will plummet in value.

In a nod to concerns about the affected cars’ resale values, judge Andreas Korbmacher said “certain losses will have to be accepted”. Eager to reassure anxious car owners, the government insisted that nothing would change right away and stressed that bans were not inevitable. “The court has not issued any driving bans but created clarity about the law,” said Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. “Driving bans can be avoided, and my goal is and will remain that they do not come into force,” she added. Chancelor Angela Merkel also weighed in, saying the ruling concerned only “individual cities”. “It’s really not about the entire country and all car owners,” she said.

But the outcome marks a huge victory for the environmentalist group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), which sued Stuttgart and Duesseldorf to force them to take action against the toxic nitrogen oxides and fine particles emitted by older diesel engines.  Concerns over the harmful effects of diesel have soared since Volkwagen’s “dieselgate” scandal in 2015, in which it manipulated the systems on 11m vehicles worldwide to fool regulators’ emissions tests.

Industry giants such as Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have responded to “dieselgate” by offering updates to engine control software to reduce emissions, but the decision in favour of diesel bans could up the pressure on them to provide hardware fixes to heavily polluting cars. Car companies have already seen the market share for diesel vehicles in Germany fall from 48% in 2015 to about 39% last year.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Feb 2018.
Pic and news credit :,uk

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