A problem too big to ignore
In 1983, early in the development of my cyclonic technology which separates particulate from an air stream, I visited a spin out company from the University of Minnesota. They had developed an aerodynamic particle counter which I needed in order to measure the efficacy of my cyclones at particles as small as 0.01 of a micron. During the visit they showed me a copy of a US Bureau of Mines report into the emission of diesel particulate in US mines.
The report suggested that laboratory mice and rats were suffering heart attacks, cancer and other major health problems when exposed to diesel fumes. As engineers, we couldn’t ignore it, so we started developing various particulate catches, using cyclones and other novel technologies. I even took one on Blue Peter and demonstrated it to Anthea Turner!
To our surprise, the industry didn’t see the virtue in collecting the filthy stuff, indeed Diesel was constantly promoted by the EU, and the British Government scientist, Sir David King, agreed with the EU.
I’ve always been horrified, even as a child, by the cloud of black smoke that would emerge from the back of vehicles. More recently petroleum and diesel engines have become less smoky, partly because they have made the particulate smaller; it may look better to the naked eye, they are still not free of dangerous gases. Yet, problems with internal combustion engines, and diesel exhaust particulate, continued ignored by traditional automotive manufacturers and governments. Tesla started seriously exploring electric cars, but traditional ‘automotive’ had no interest what-so-ever.