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Corning has been setting the standards for clean-air technologies
for more than 45 years

The U.S. Clean Air Act: A Turning Point in Protecting our Environment

The U.S. Clean Air Act: A Turning Point in Protecting our Environment

Months after President Nixon proclaimed 1970 as the year of the environment, Congress passed the Clean Air Act – setting national air quality and vehicle emission standards – and established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement those standards. The 1970 Act required a 90% reduction in emissions from new cars by 1975.

The pressure was on to create a new technology to meet the clean-air requirements. Corning answered the challenge in 1971 with the first extruded ceramic substrate based on a material called cordierite. Virtually every automotive company in the world today relies on the basis of Corning cellular ceramic technology to control exhaust emissions.

In 1978, Corning developed a cellular ceramic particulate filter to remove soot from diesel emissions. Together with the cellular ceramic substrates, these products form the core of world-class emissions control systems and clean-air technologies. Both innovations, substrates and filters, are manufactured by the company's patented extrusion process in facilities around the world.

The (in)visible impact

In a typical trip from New York City to Los Angeles and back (about 5,600 miles), a large truck's diesel engine will generate about 560 grams of soot particles. That amount nearly fills a four-liter jar. Without an emission control system, this soot exits the smoke stack into the air we breathe. But that's just one truck, one trip. On average, U.S. freight trucks will travel that distance more than 2 million times in a month. That's a lot of jars of soot.

When we apply a Corning® DuraTrap® filter solution to this vehicle, the soot output drops to only 2.8 grams. That's a more than 99% drop in pollutants exiting the vehicle.

Today, even with twice as many vehicles on the road, dangerous air pollutants have been reduced by more than 60% since the Clean Air Act was implemented. Innovations like catalytic converters in automobiles have played a critical role in dropping smog levels in once heavily polluted cities like Los Angeles. Nowadays, new cars are 98% cleaner than in 1970 in terms of smog-forming pollutants.