NEWSWEEK (JUNE 17, 1974)
A Solution to Air Pollution
In the wake of the energy-crisis a 50-year-old British-born inventor named Eric Cottell has come up with an ingeniously simple and economically practical solution -- one that is now exciting industry and government officials alike.
In the conventional combustion process, fuel is combined with air and turned. The result is carbon dioxide, water vapor and heavy oxides of nitrogen, which are a prime cause of chemical smog. Cottell reasoned that if water could largely replace air as a source of oxygen in combustion, this would avoid the large amounts of nitrogen introduced by the air -- and thus eliminate much of the noxious nitrogen oxides.
To accomplish this, he turned to a device he had patented 22 years ago -- an ultrasonic reactor that emulsifies heavy liquids and is widely used today to prepare such products as Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, cosmetics and paint. By refining the reactor, Cottell was able to break water into particles about one fifty-thousandth of an inch in diameter and to disperse them evenly in oil (or gasoline) to create an emulsion that was 70 percent oil and 30 percent water. When this emulsion was burned, Cottell found :
(1) that there were far fewer waste products and
(2) that the small water droplets expand on heating, then explode into steam, in turn shattering the oil into even finer particles, and thus increasing the surface area of the fuel exposed for burning.
Last month Cottell divided his time between Washington, in talks with officials of the Federal Energy Office, and Detroit, where he consulted with engineers working to meet the tight 1976 automobile-emission requirements. So far, auto tests have shown that with an ultrasonic reactor attached to a carburetor, a car can get almost DOUBLE the normal miles per gallon of gasoline -- with negligible exhausts. Cottell's company, Tymponic Corp. of Long Island, N.Y., is also about to produce units for home oil burners that will be no larger than a flashlight and cost $100 to $150.
Last winter, two Long Island schools converted to Cottell's system, and both reduced their fuel usage by about 25%. Adelphi University reports that it saved more than 3,500 gallons of oil per week! -- and reduced soot output by 98 %."