Tenneco Automotive has found a sizable North American market for emissions-control technology it developed in Europe.
Tenneco Automotive of Lake Forest, Illinois, 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. Tenneco did not disclose the value of the technology transfer contracts and customers.
"It's a very easy crossover," said Lois Boyd, Tenneco Automotive vice president of global original equipment program management. Details of the programs were shared earlier this month at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit.
Tenneco Automotive is listed by Automotive News Europe as the world's No. 41 automotive supplier in 2001 with global sales of $2.43 billion (E2.2 billion). Tenneco's European sales were about 40 of the total; but US sales were about 52 percent.
North American demand for emissions technology that meets stricter European requirements is increasing, Boyd said. The technology could begin production within 12 months for US domestic and transplant carmakers, she added.
Tenneco Automotive's converter weighs 20 percent less than comparable catalytic converters and reduces costs by 25 percent. The key is a process that creates the inlet and outlet cones on the converter from a single piece of metal while other designs weld separate cones to the converter body.
The converter is used in Europe on vehicles such as the Ford Transit van, Peugeot 406 and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa.
Tenneco muffler technology enables automakers to use a smaller muffler with high-performance engines. 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 technology can reduce muffler size as much as 30 percent without loss of performance, the company said.
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 135,000km.
A Tenneco spokeswoman said the company has a better technology flow since the automotive business was spun off from Tenneco in 1999 as a separate, publicly owned company.