Aug. 24-- The drive to clean up automobile emissions has perplexed a lot of scientists and engineers over the past four decades. And it has led to some serious innovations.
But one of the strangest remedies will be tried next year in Europe. Thats when the first diesel engines go on sale using an extract of animal urine to reduce pollutants.
The extract, called urea, already is an ingredient in some fertilizers, plastics and even medicines. In trucks, urea will be used as part of a catalytic converter system that reacts with the diesel exhaust to reduce the sulfur dioxide that goes out the tailpipe or stack.
Truckers will need to tank up on urea almost as often as they get fuel.
The experience in Europe will lead to broader usage.
Several automakers are studying similar systems. Mercedes-Benz plans to use urea to meet diesel standards in the United States that go into effect in 2007.
Its one of those innovations that solves a serious problem with a simple solution and makes you wonder how it happened.