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    Innovative Filters Made In Colombia Reduce Emissions

    Colombia has developed a filter from a certain type of material and a specific structure that allows diesel engines to greatly reduce the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere, specifically the large particles that cause serious risk to the human respiratory systems.

    Engineering Ceramic Filter prototype

    The pollution problem has become a major concern of mankind, so any initiative to help support the environment is well received all over the world. However, in countries like Colombia, where technological innovation is not exactly a strength, projects led by researchers such as Jairo Escobar, a researcher at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of the Andes, lack the momentum and the application they aspire to achieve.

    Escobar designed a device built from a series of materials called "engineering ceramics", which uses a foam-like matrix as the basis of its structure. This filter is designed to stop harmful particles containing gases from diesel engines, generating a tremendous advantage over conventional filters and significantly reduces long-term costs, as their market price ranges from $1,500 and $3,000 while further reducing repair costs for damage to the engines themselves.

    These internal engine damages are rarely addressed ​​by vehicle owners. When the conventional filter clogs, it obstructs other engine functions ultimately leading to the replacement of the engine, thus generating more environmental damage and waste. When considering the alternative filter, successful filtration of harmful materials and the possibility of reuse after a special cleaning, generate additional savings in maintenance, replacement, and waste, decreasing emissions of these particles up to 60% and 70%. The concept has been developed; however, achieving its application in the market is a different matter.

    Jairo Escobar, Engineer. Assigned to the University of the Andes is leading this research project.The project is based on the creation of proprietary technology to solve the problems facing the environment. However, technical expertise, industry, and economic resources are necessary to carry out an idea such as this to allow its inclusion in the market. "We have the knowledge, but no one who can fabricate it in the country -- we need people who can understand that this process takes time, not only create but to put it in the productive apparatus", said Escobar.

    The situation is different in other countries that have accompanied this work, and have now applied the technology to improve the quality of air in their localities. Such is the case with Brazil, who accompanied this development process to some extent, but parted to then refine it independently.

    In Bogota’s constitutional Article 49, of the Criminal Code in Article 247 or the 146 decrees of 2006, are some examples of the existence of a regulatory framework for environmental protection. Additionally in this capital city, there are programs aimed at improving air quality in the city, such as “pico y placa” or “peak and plate” limiting the number of cars elegible to drive during peak periods by lottery of vehicle plate numbers for both public transport and private cars. However the level of pollution in the city is still alarming. Bogotá’s fleet of cars emits five million tonnes of CO2 a year.

    The ten-year plan for decontamination of air in Bogota projects to significantly decrease levels of pollution in the capital by 2020, and to implement initiatives like the use of these innovative engine filters would be a major breakthrough in meeting these long-term goals.

    Needless to mention that according to a study in 2010 by the Ministry of Environment, if the District does not enforce protection policies, respiratory care costs would balloon to $ 17.5 billion by 2020. It’s clear that more support to progress and research innovations that benefit Colombia and enhance its efforts to protect the environment would benefit the quality of life of its citizens and also the pockets of private and state companies.


    Originally written: Manolo Benitez Villota

    Translated to English: Fernando Arias


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