Is it a Kandy-Kolored Streamline Baby Or a Safe, Non-Polluting Motor Vehicle?

(Following are excerpts of the speech and slide presentation of Fred W. Bowditch, director of emissions controls for GM, before the M.I.T. joint advisory committee. Some graphs referred to in the speech are reproduced here.)

THERE are at least five major kinds of air pollution. so identified by the regulatory agencies in the state of California and the federal government. These include oxides of nitrogen, sulfur compounds, particulate, hydro-carbons, and carbon monoxide.

The automobile is a contributor of three-these include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and oxides of nitrogen. So, to the degree that any one or all three of these are air pollution problems in a local area, or any urban area, like Boston here, then the automobile is to that degree a significant source of air pollution in that total area.

This of course ranges from being a major problem in the Los Angeles area to being not quite so great a problem in Boston.

Now to understand the problem let' look to where we get these emissions from automobiles. There are basically the four sources indicated here (slide #1). There are evaporative lesses, in the from of hydro-carbon. Of all the, hydrocarbons we get from an automobile, about 20 per cent are evaporative losses. We get that from the fuel tank and the carburetor.

Another 20 per cent of the losses from an uncontrolled car come from the crankcase. And another 60 per cent of those hydro-carbon losses come from the exhaust itself. Now practically all of the carbon-monoxide come from the tail-pipe of the car. And practically all of the oxides of nitrogen-the third pollutant-come from the tailpipe of the car.

What's Being Done?

Now what have we been doing about it? The next slide (slide #2) is an overall view of where we have been. We've been different places between California and nationwide, as you see here. As I indicated initially, California had a major problem so we began in that region.

That is the reason for the two sets of dates. California in 1960 in the first bar-USA same year in the first year because now we are talking about the totally uncontrolled car in our first bar on the left. The bottom part of that bar is the hydro-carbon crankcase emission. The center section of that bar is the exhaust emission losses. That as we said before is about 60 per cent. And the top part of that bar comes from the evaporative losses-about another 20 per cent.

California First

Beginning with 1961 for California cars and 1963 for cars nationwide, a crankcase control system was put on all cars. That took care of about 80 per cent of all crankcase loss. In 1963 in California and 1968 nationwide, we eliminated that remaining crankcase loss.

In that same year, nationwide and in 1966 in California the first exhaust control system was put on the cars and that brought us down to about a 50 per cent reduction from where we started from.

The last bar is the 1970 California model and the 1971 nationwide model and that shows a little over 100 gramsof automobile pollution per car per day.

Now you get a slide rule, make a division and there you have an 80 per cent reduction in those hydro-carbon losses.

These numbers are not from prototype engineering cars. Those numbers are from cars now in the hands of the public. We borrow them, run tests on them, and give them back to the public.

There are cars with higher emissions than that and there are also cars with much lower emissions than that. Those numbers cited are the average emissions from cars in the hands of the public.

Carbon Monoxide

So that's what we've done thus far in controlling hydro-carbon losses. Now the second source of emission that we've been working on is the carbon monoxide (slide =3). And with this, we've made a reduction of about 65 per cent. Now what's even more important, of course, Is what has all this done for our atmosphere. In this instance, we make estimates of what we think is done in the atmosphere.

THE next slide (slide =4) shows one made for hydro-carbon. What this says is that back in 1940 for the total country, we have something under 20,000 tons a day for the total passenger car population....

For every one of those passenger cars on the dotted line we've had 567 grams a day of hydro-carbon. So simple multiplication shows continual increase into the atmosphere of hydro-carbon.

We begin to deviate from that ever increasing line along about the early 1960's, reach a maximum in the mdi-1960's and as of today the total hydro-carbon emissions are on the decline and they're going to continue to become less and less as time goes along and will reach a minimum around 1980.

About that time the passenger car will begin to catch up with the level of control and the line of hydro-carbon emission will gradually begin to rise again.

The next slide (slide =5) shows what the very similar pattern for carbon monoxide is....

Modifying the Internal Combustion Engine

So what we're saying here is along about 1980 all cars would have the best control systems we know how to make along back in 1970. But the new cars are only replacing the old cars at a rate of 7-10 per cent per year.

What can we do for the used cars in order to help in this decline?

Recent Improvement

One of the approaches is one that we have announced recently and will be available through dealers for all pre-1968 models. It amounts to changing the vacuum advance on the distributor with a high temperature override so it won't overheat. This total packet has been announced on our dealer list for $9.05 plus labor.

It will decrease hydro-carbons by about 50 per cent, it will decrease oxides of nitrogen about 30 per cent on average and carbon monoxide some 35 per cent. This in itself will again hasten the decline of pollution in the atmosphere.

1975 Standards

Now what about these 1975 kinds of numbers we talked about? How are we going to get down there? We in General Motors have taken two approaches to that. One is a change of power plant-go to a gas turbine, steam engine, electric car, sterling engine, or what not. Another approach is what can we continue to do with the gas engine.... We might change the kind of fuel we are using and go to a gaseous fuel-liquefied petroleum (LPG) or compressed natural gas-these have been proposed with a fair amount of notoriety. The engine would be quite similar to the present engine with some minor changes. This system can be made, we can run them, we are running them. We have quite a few right now. The whole Chicago transit system operates on LPG.

This system gives hydro-carbon levels that would meet 1975 kinds of problems. It would give carbon monoxide levels meeting the 1975 requirements. It won't do the job on oxides of nitrogen.

Another approach we can take with essentially the engine we have today is the so-called catalytic approach. And this amounts to putting a catalyst essentially in place of the present muffler. This is usually an oxidizing catalyst because we have to somehow burn up the carbon monoxide, hydro-carbon.... Right now, for example, one of the major problems of lead in gasoline, is coating the catalyst and the catalyst doesn't last very long....

Manifold Reactor

Another possibility is the so-called manifold reactor and in this case it's a rich one. But this call for enlarging the present exhaust manifold on the engine.... In this case, the engine-in order to control all pollutants that we talked about-takes about 25 per cent more fuel than the present engine. However, this can be done and it does work. Again we have cars built and running today.

The next slide shows one of the combinations you can put together-one of several that we have running. This one includes electronic fuel injection along with so-called recirculation... to control oxides of nitrogen....

Lead Gas Problem

We have had problems with all of the models shown here working with the lead in the gasoline. Let me enumerate some of them:

If we eliminate lead we more than double spark plug life. When the spark plug misfires, it tremendously increases the amount of hydro-carbons that go out into the atmosphere....

The deposit effect alone of leaded deposits rather than non-leaded combustion chamber deposits is a factor of about 80 ppm out of about 300....

Alternate Power Sources

We have also considered alternate power plants, including fuel injection, stratified charge, gas turbines, the diesel. Wenkel engine, free piston, electric, battery, steam car, and so on. And in most of those instances we built the car....

The next slide (slide =6) shows one of these possibilities, the gas turbine. We have been working in the gas turbine area for over 20 years. We started when that gas turbine left the research laboratories as so-called GMRGT 309.

We intend during 1970 to offer a gas turbine. Our Detroit diesel engine division is going to build it. It will be intended for use as a heavy duty engine-a buses and trucks kind of operation to replace diesel. Because that is the kind of purpose that the gas turbine seems able to fulfill. The gas turbine has severe limitations.

Interestingly enough, the gas turbine on the automobile will not meet the 1975 proposed standards. The oxides of nitrogen levels are too high....

The next slide shows a steam car. This is one we put together. De had another steam car put together by a plant manufacturer of steam cars so we have this one plus that one and some other engines that we have worked with.

In this instance, with that engine, we had to lengthen the hood on the Grand Prix another 7 inches to get it in because of condenser problems-there are mechanical problems you've got to appreciate. You've got a real problem condensing the water in a steam engine. We've got an engine that weighs twice as much as the normal engine and has about half the power output.

Again, the steam engine does very well on hydro-carbon and carbon monoxide, but will not pass the oxides of nitrogen requirements for 1975....

The next slide shows an electric possibility. This is one we made in this instance in a Corvair and we made it into an electro-vair by putting in a bunch of silver zinc batteries. The engineering requirements was that it be able to operate in terms of performance as well as the gasoline powered car.

With that set-up the battery supply was adequate for around 40 miles. So we had a range problem. There needs to be breakthroughs in things like batteries. The weight of the car is half again as much as it is with the gasoline model. Obviously there needs to be some more breakthroughs in this area. These are all things that we should try and we continue to try and we continue to have people devoted to each of these engines to bring out the maximum potential.

We believe that we have done a very effective job of controlling the emissions for cars in the hands of the public.

Questions and Answers

Q. How does GM define low level pollution in terms of standards that have been prescribed? Are you approaching them? How soon can you meet them? Does your film imply that it will be 1980 or 1990, 1970 or when?

BOWDITCH: Again it is a matter of semantics as to what we mean by low pollution. What I showed is what has been actually going on this far-without any definitions either on our side or on the regulatory side. That's what's been going on. The whole amount of pollution in the atmosphere has been decreasing. All of the automotive pollution at least.

Now there is a question which the regulatory people must decide. They thus far appear to be reasonably satisfied as to where we stand. On that basis and with the kind of programs that we have here we think that we are responding to the requirements of the regulatory agencies and the government. Right now we have reduced pollutants 80 per cent from where we have started. What we are working on is the last 20 per cent in hydro-carbons. Now it depends on how much lower that should be at what ultimate price to the consumer.

As I pointed out here, we are going to make another 75 per cent reduction in that last 20 per cent by 1975. Is that, in your definition, a low level of pollution or isn't it? I think it's matter of semantics. The regulatory people apparently think it is, too.

Q. How much have you succeeded in lowering the nitrogen oxides so far?

BOWDITCH: Our present 1970 models have lowered oxides of nitrogen emissions 25 per cent on where they were in our 1969 models.

Q. How much have you reduced nitrogen oxide in comparison with 1965?

BOWDITCH: Well, this same relative percentage...

Q. So that's a considerably less successful part of your program so far.

BOWDITCH: We have not considered nitrogen control until just recently because it was just recently that there was concern about that level in the atmosphere.

California Controls

Q. It seems that the major stimulant to your program has been the state of California. I'm wondering how much you were lobbying in the state of California for their pollution standards and their safety standards. I want to know if there is anything to indicate that GM is in the forefront of this movement or if we will have to rely more on other regulations or on other forms of bringing change?

BOWDITCH: Well, I think I can answer at least part of that. We have sion control in California as well as nationwide.


Crankcase systems went on cars in the state of California before there was any requirement. The oxides of nitrogen control systems we have on our cars today have predated that requirement in California. Regarding the California requirements-the most recent ones-we did not object to those requirements when they were presented at the regulatory body.

Q. Did you object to the requirements which you obviously responded to on your graphs that show California levels five years ahead of nationwide levels? For example the 1966 exhaust control device. What was your response to the California proposals in 1964?

BOWDITCH: At that time we did not see how we could do it in the time frame that had been laid out for us.

Q. Did you succeed?

BOWDITCH: We did succeed.

Three Facts...

Q. I'd like to present three sets of facts which were adopted and found in the hands of the National Air Pollution Control Administration. These presumed facts are results of studies done with public funds and I'd like to get the General Motors comments on these.

The three facts are to wi?: in 1967 when air pollution controls first went into effect, there was a dramatic decrease of pollution of General Motors cars, significantly more than either Ford or Chrysler. In each successive year, 1968 and 1969, pollution went back up again, until now it is about equal to Ford and Chrysler.

The second fact is that virtually no General Motors car made today meets the Federal standards. Prototypes made a year ago did, but the production line models don't in four out of five cases.

The third fact is that the pollution control devices that have been installed are deteriorating relatively rapidly and 79 per cent of those in operation show very significant deterioration in performance when aged through 30,000 miles.

BOWDITCH: Well, I think you're got a few of your dates out of line, but basically I understand what you are saying. The first data that you are referring to was some that the HEW collected on our 1968 and 69 models rather than 1970 models.

We used that data, and if that is correct data, where I said there was an 80 per cent reduction in hydro-carbons that's 86 per cent and where I said a 65 per cent reduction in carbon monoxide, that's 68 per cent.

As far as the GM cars meeting the regulations, there's no doubt about that or we wouldn't have been certified to start with.

Q. The prototypes were certified, the fact is surveys show most production cars don't meet the standards.

BOWDITCH: Which HEW survey are you talking about, apparently you have other facts which I am not aware of. Certainly the cars built met the standards as they were specified. The cars on the average meet the intent of those standards.

Fire-Year Wait

Q. I believe in one year, 1963, GM met certain minimum standards in the state of California. Why did GM wait five years before you expanded that nationwide?

BOWDITCH: The reason we started in California is because most of the hydro-carbon problem in the nation is the chemical smog problem associated with Los Angeles. Los Angeles' part of that problem is tremendously greater than anywhere else in the country.

The consumer obviously must bear the cost of the equipment which goes on cars to stop this pollution. The problem then becomes how much of these controls should be placed on all cars. When that equipment was placed on those cars, the medical authorities in California and the federal government made the decision that they saw no requirement in the rest of the country in those days, at that time, therefore we did not put the controls on the cars.

Q. In other words, as long as the federal government is not going to require certain anti-pollution control devices, you're going to wait until they do?

BOWDITCH: No, that is not the case. The medical authorities saw no requirement in the other parts of the country.