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Cleaner air through driving

A new technology could soon use cars as mobile air filters. These would clean the city air while driving and could thus prevent impending diesel driving bans.

Mann und Hummel, a company based in Ludwigsburg, Germany, could soon bring a technology to market that would revolutionise driving: mobile filter systems that can be attached to vehicles of all kinds and thus clean the city air while driving. The EU Commission has pledged €1.5 million in support to the company to advance the technology.  

The company wants to bring two different types of filters to market: One would filter city air directly while driving, actively removing fine dust particles from the surrounding air, for example. The filters could be mounted in an aerodynamic form on the roof of buses and trucks, but also find a place on the bumper or under the boot. Especially on vehicles that travel a lot in city centres and conurbations, this technology could bring significant improvements in air quality. The promising filters are to go into series production this year.

A second technology from the company is already ready for series production: a filter that sits close to the brake disc and filters brake dust out of the air directly where it is produced. Brake dust contributes significantly to the fine dust pollution in the air and is also a problem with electric cars. Electric cars are clearly better than combustion engines in terms of their CO2 emissions. However, so-called non-exhaust emissions, which are caused by brake, tyre and road abrasion, are much higher in electric cars. The filter can be installed in a wide variety of vehicle types and costs consumers less than 200 euros. The technology is expected to be on the market as early as this year.

Part of the EU funding is a product-accompanying study that will test what the filters can do on at least 20 types of vehicles in 3 European cities. MEP Norbert Lins (CDU) had proposed the project for funding. He sees a real opportunity in the technology to advance the mobility turnaround: "If we manage to filter pollutants such as particulate matter directly on the vehicle, we can implement the EU Commission's zero-emissions strategy with mobility that is open to technology, without compromising individual freedom of movement."

Should the filters actually improve air quality, this could also continue to prevent the threat of diesel driving bans, as in Frankfurt am Main. Even in Hamburg and Stuttgart, where diesel driving bans are on the back burner but it is not certain whether the air will remain clean this year, the new technology could keep the measured values below the limit value in the long term and make the driving bans obsolete. We are looking forward to it!