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Nano firm reduces diesel fumes, improves mileage

U.K. company trims nitrogen-based and carbon dioxide emissions by making combustion process more efficient.

The smell of diesel fumes is pervasive in the developing world, but a fuel additive from the United Kingdom may take the edge off the aroma.

Petrol Ofisi, one of the leading oil companies in Turkey, has said it will include in its diesel fuel an additive from British nanotechnology specialist Oxonica that helps increase gas mileage by 5 percent to 10 percent and cut down nitrogen-based emissions. The change to fuel consumption also helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A tour bus company in Britain and another group in the Philippines already incorporate Oxonica's Envirox fuel additive into its diesel fuel. The additive, based on cerium oxide (a powder often used for polishing glass lenses), makes the combustion process more efficient.

The deal will generate revenue of around $12.7 million for Oxonica this year, according to the company.

Like Nanosys, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company that develops inorganic nanostructures for use in a variety of applications, Oxonica produces molecules for several different markets rather than concentrating on one field. The company also works with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on sensors to detect airborne pathogens like anthrax. It also makes products for the health care market.

Although ethanol is often touted as the car fuel of the future, a significant amount of research is being conducted on making sure that traditional fossil fuels burn cleaner. Fossil fuels, after all, will be around for a while. At the moment, the world consumes about 80 million barrels of oil a day, a rate that will rise to around 121 million barrels a day by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. The growth largely comes from transportation fuel.

Shell and Exxon are setting up factories in Qatar for converting natural gas to fuel. This fuel costs more than regular gasoline, but it produces fewer pollutants. Air pollution has become so bad in some areas that local governments have begun to regulate traffic. New Delhi, for instance, has banned diesel buses from certain areas.