DETROIT -- Tenneco Automotive Inc. has found a sizable North American market for emissions control technology it developed in Europe.
Tenneco Automotive of Lake Forest, Ill., expects to be in production early next year on a new catalytic converter, a semiactive muffler for high-performance engines and a new diesel treatment system.
All were developed at Tenneco Automotive's European operations. The value of the contracts and customers were not disclosed. "It's a very easy crossover," said Lois Boyd, Tenneco Automotive's vice president of global original equipment program management, of the technology transfer. Details of the programs were shared last week at the SAE World Congress.
Tenneco Automotive ranks No. 32 on the Automotive News list of Top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America in 2001 with sales of $1.27 billion.
North American demand for emissions technology that meets stricter European requirements is increasing, Boyd said. The technology could begin production within 12 months for Big 3 and transplant carmakers, she said.
Tenneco Automotive's converter weighs 20 percent less than comparable catalytic converters and reduces costs 25 percent. The key is a process that creates the inlet and outlet cones on the converter from a single piece of metal as compared with designs in which the cones are welded to the converter body.
The converter is used in Europe on vehicles such as the Ford Transit van, Peugeot 406 and Opel Corsa.
The muffler technology enables automakers to use a smaller muffler with a high-performance engine. At low speeds, a valve in the muffler closes, reducing low-frequency noise. At higher speeds, the valve opens, reducing exhaust system back pressure and boosting engine performance.
The semiactive muffler technology enables an automaker to reduce muffler size as much as 30 percent without loss of performance, according to the company.
Tenneco Automotive's diesel filters virtually eliminate particulates in the exhaust, Boyd said. Particulates are trapped in the filter, then burned off by raising the exhaust temperature. The filters can be regenerated by burning off the trapped material or replaced at a service center at intervals of about 85,000 miles.
A Tenneco spokeswoman said the company enjoys a better technology flow since the automotive business split off from Tenneco Inc. in 1999 as a separate, publicly owned company.