Release: December 17, 2003
NGK Insulators, Ltd. (NGK; President: Shun Matsushita, Head Office: Nagoya, Aichi) announced the selection by Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda; President: Hisakazu Imaki, Head Office: Hiroshima, Japan) of NGK's diesel particulate filters (DPFs) for use in Mazda's diesel-powered Bongo commercial vans and trucks. The new Bongo, available for distribution since December 9, 2003, is the first vehicle in its class* to employ the DPF. The DPF is made of ceramics based on SiC (silicon carbide), which offers exceptional heat resistance. This is the first use of NGK's SiC-DPF for commercially-produced vehicles in Japan.
*Small commercial vehicles (maximum loads less than 1 ton).
The DPF component eliminates virtually all particulate matter (PM) from the exhaust of diesel-powered vehicles. In response to significantly more rigorous diesel emission regulations scheduled to go into effect from 2005 in Japan, Europe, and the USA, the automotive industry has developed various systems to clean exhaust emissions. Incorporating the latest of these technologies, NGK has developed a SiC-based DPF that joins its Cordierite-based DPF introduced in 1989.
Since the DPF gradually becomes clogged with PM after continuous use, the filter needs to be regenerated by combusting the accumulated PM, using the heat found in exhaust gas. However, with some regeneration methods, the heat generated during combustion can damage the DPF. NGK has solved this problem by using ceramics based on SiC, which provides exceptional heat resistance. Conventional SiC-DPFs also suffer from cracking caused by sudden temperature changes (thermal shock). NGK solved this problem by improving thermal shock resistance, using a complex containing silicon (Si), which offers superior elasticity, based on SiC. The porosity and pore size of the porous ceramic material have been concurrently optimized to prevent poor fuel consumption caused by loss of discharge pressure associated with DPF installation.
The DPFs will also be employed in other Mazda's vehicles; several European automakers will also adopt these devices. In April 2003, NGK established a mass-production facility at the Komaki Plant (Komaki, Aichi). This facility will serve as the mother factory for NGK Ceramics Polska Sp. z o. o., which was established in January 2003 as a mass-production base in Europe, the primary market for DPFs. The Company plans to begin production in November 2004.
NGK offers many years of experience with the development and production of the HONEYCERAM® catalytic converter, used for exhaust gas purification in gasoline-powered vehicles. Drawing on its success and experience in this area, NGK is collaborating with automakers and catalyst manufacturers in its continuing development of DPFs. NGK will seek to maintain or expand its market share through a strategy of technology differentiation.