Corning reaches milestone for newest exhaust filtration technology being adopted on cars across Europe

There’s a growing challenge in the fight for cleaner cars and a healthier planet. It’s invisible. The culprits can fit by the thousands on the head of a pin and they measure 20 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. They also have the potential to cause heart, lung, and other health issues.

The challenge is PM2.5, a mix of microscopic particles of airborne carbon soot and other harmful chemicals that currently flow out of the tailpipes of most gasoline cars, including popular gasoline-direct-injection (GDI) engines. These engines deliver the fuel efficiency and performance drivers are looking for, but generate a high amount of PM2.5.

Corning’s newest automotive exhaust filter, called a gasoline particulate filter (GPF), is a solution that traps PM2.5 before it enters the air we breathe. Corning produced its one millionth Corning® DuraTrap® GC gasoline particulate filter as the technology gains adoption on gasoline cars in Europe and China, the first markets in a business that Corning expects will add an estimated $500 million in annual sales by 2023 once China 6 regulations are fully implemented.

“This production milestone marks the introduction of a next-generation emissions control solution with proven capability to help our customers meet new emissions standards and advance their gasoline systems to be cleaner and safer,” said Hal Nelson, vice president and general manager, Corning Environmental Technologies.

The company is working with most major automakers to equip their new European gasoline engine platforms with DuraTrap® GC gasoline particulate filters. To prepare for demand from committed customers, Corning began expanding its Kaiserslautern manufacturing facility in 2016. Demand has been driven by stricter European regulations, known as Euro 6d, that are set to fully phase in by September 2018. To meet these new standards, automakers are introducing new technologies and engineering improvements into their gasoline systems, including the use of particulate filtration, a technology proven on diesel passenger vehicles in Europe since the early 2000s.

“Our Kaiserslautern facility has been managing expansion and production activities simultaneously to meet demand for these new products, preparing for the regulations alongside our customers,” said Klaus Wellstein, general manager, Corning GmbH.

So what is a gasoline particulate filter and how does it work? The key to Corning’s design is an advanced ceramic material, which draws on the company’s deep expertise in ceramic science. Exhaust from the engine first flows through the catalytic converter, and then to the filter, where pollutants such as soot get trapped on the finely engineered porous ceramic walls. The soot particles are too large to flow out of the filter and reach the air you breathe. Once contained in the filter, heat from the exhaust system burns off the trapped pollutants. Corning’s filters are effective in trapping particulates while also maintaining engine performance with low back pressure.

Once Corning developed the material and design for GPFs, the next step was testing. Corning tested GPFs on vehicles that drove a collective 2 million kilometers across Europe, China, and the United States. The technology consistently helped reduce PM2.5 emissions in everyday driving, whether the driver was cruising down the autobahn, accelerating sharply up an on-ramp, or navigating congested city streets.

Europe isn’t the only market where GPFs will be leveraged on gasoline vehicles. China’s new China 6 standards, which phase in from 2020 to 2023, require all gasoline vehicles meet stricter PM2.5 limits.  Most gasoline vehicles in the region will potentially require a GPF by the time China 6 regulations are fully implemented. Corning is collaborating with major automakers in China and increasing the pace of investment in the region, including building a manufacturing facility in Hefei, China, announced in 2017.

The production milestone for DuraTrap® GC filters is an exciting new chapter in Corning’s 100-year participation in the auto industry, which began with specialized glass for headlights. As a leading supplier of clean-air technologies, Corning is continuing to help automakers meet the world’s most stringent emissions standards and introduce cleaner, safer vehicles.