Effects Of Nitrogen Oxide On The Environment – Not only fine dust, but also harmful gases pollute our ambient air and thus our health. Martin Klein, Vice President of Cabin Air Filtration, talks in an interview about air pollution by nitrogen oxides, possible solutions and why filtration plays an important role.
Martin Klein studied process engineering at the University of Karlsruhe and since February 2017 is the Vice President of Cabin Air Filtration in Himmelkron, Germany. He started his career at MANN+HUMMEL in 2003 as a development engineer for fuel filter media and components for the automotive aftermarket. In 2010, after the project at the Indian location in Tumkur, he moved to the Innovation and Corporate Strategy department and more recently managed the national and international team.
- 1 Effects Of Nitrogen Oxide On The Environment
- 2 A Post Kyoto Partner: Considering The Stratospheric Ozone Regime As A Tool To Manage Nitrous Oxide
- 3 Facts And Infographics
- 4 The Harmful Effects Of Nitrogen Oxides
Effects Of Nitrogen Oxide On The Environment
Mr. Klein, in the current public debate about air pollution we often hear the term ‘nitrogen oxides’ mentioned as well as fine dust. What is nitrous oxide exactly?
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Both fine dust and nitrogen oxides contribute to air pollution. Fine dust refers to minute particles that are grouped into certain size categories. In simple terms, the size category PM2.5 refers to particles with a size smaller than 2.5 micrometers, that is, particles that are twenty times smaller than the thickness of a human hair and have the ability to enter our respiratory system.
In addition to these solids, however, there are also a number of toxic gases present in our ambient air. These include ozone, sulfur compounds, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides (NO
). These are gaseous compounds based on nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) atoms. The focus is on nitrogen dioxide (NO
) as already small concentrations of this gas over a longer period of time can prove particularly dangerous for people suffering from allergies or asthma or patients with other lung diseases. So the concentration of nitrogen dioxide is recorded in many measurement stations. Yet despite the public debate we should not panic.
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Is an irritating gas with a pungent and harsh odor that enters the respiratory system. There it can trigger inflammatory reactions in the bronchi, lead to respiratory distress or even cause pulmonary edema and a restriction of lung function. Therefore, the European Union has established a limit value of 40 µg / mᶟ for the annual average level of nitrogen dioxide. This value corresponds to the current limit value set by the World Health Organization. Unfortunately around the world there are a large number of cities that in part considerably exceed the value. But it is also true that just a short distance away from busy streets and traffic the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air decreases quickly.
In relation to Germany, the average annual value of nitrogen dioxide in the city or suburbs of the city is in the range of 20 to 30 µg / mᶟ. The lowest level of nitrogen gas pollution measured in the country with the annual average value of 10 µg/mᶟ. We should also consider it positive that in 2017 the limit values were not exceeded in more than 400 of the approximately 500 measured stations in Germany.
Between 1990 and 2015 nitrogen oxide emissions decreased by 59%. The air quality in Germany is today generally better than it was just a few decades ago. The measurement data from the German Federal Agency for the Environment show that the concentrations of almost all pollutants recorded since the eighties have considerably and continuously decreased. This is a very good development that is also the case in other European and a number of Asian countries such as Japan.
Unfortunately, worldwide nitrogen emissions continue to increase. Nitrogen oxides are an undesirable byproduct of the combustion process. These combustion processes occur naturally or are introduced by humans in connection with agriculture, households, the energy industry or industry. The main causes of nitrogen oxides in Germany, however, are the traffic emissions and in particular the emissions of diesel cars.
A Post Kyoto Partner: Considering The Stratospheric Ozone Regime As A Tool To Manage Nitrous Oxide
The technology to reduce nitrogen oxides using an SCR catalytic converter has already been established for some years and the efficiency of the technology has been verified. But unfortunately until now its potential has not been fully exploited. In my opinion, driving ban is a very drastic measure. If driving bans could be implemented in practice, they would naturally be an effective tool against local air pollution, but at the same time would create considerable problems for commuters, local businesses and diesel drivers. While on the one hand it is important to improve the infrastructure in order to reduce the traffic burden in the affected areas of the inner cities, on the other hand it is also important to further establish effective technology to clean the exhaust gas from the cars. In addition, an approach could also use air filters in the affected areas. MANN+HUMMEL is currently developing such a technology designed to reduce the level of nitrogen gas in places with a particularly high level of pollution.
Emissions can be significantly reduced, as was the case with the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions in the nineties through the introduction of low sulfur gas. As a result, car drivers on busy traffic roads or in tunnels will continue to be exposed to high NO concentration levels.
Almost all cars today are equipped with a cabin filter, sometimes referred to as a pollen filter. Pure particulate filters, however, are unable to retain gases. This requires the use of an activated carbon filter. Activated carbon has a very fine pore structure that binds gas molecules. We can combine different layers of activated carbon in a filter medium. This allows us to precisely specify our filters so that they can hold a variety of harmful substances, such as nitrogen dioxide. In addition to activated carbon layers, in our filters we also use additional layers of filter media to protect, for example, against fine dust, allergens or pollen. These so-called combi filters are available for all types of vehicles and have proven their effectiveness in various tests. Most nitrous oxide emissions come from agriculture. The government has set a target to reduce nitrous oxide emissions to net zero by 2050, which means action on farms is important.
In this short video, Dr. Cecile de Klein of AgResearch explains where nitrous oxide comes from, its effects on the atmosphere, and some of the options researchers are exploring that farmers and ranchers could use to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Facts And Infographics
But it’s no secret that too much nitrogen can lead to nitrates entering our rivers, streams and lakes.
What you might not know is that nitrogen in the soil also produces a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide or methane.
In a moment we will show you what you can do to reduce the emission of this gas, but first let’s see what is happening in the ground.
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The Harmful Effects Of Nitrogen Oxides
It is a very potent greenhouse gas, being about 300 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
It is also a long lasting fuel. It remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years. But its warming effects can linger on for centuries afterward.
Soil microbes use nitrogen in the soil to transfer it into a form that plants can use.
But not the plants use all the nitrogen. Some of it sits in the ground, mainly as nitrates.
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Fortunately we produce much less of it. But nitrous oxide still accounts for around 12% of NZ’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
There must be something we can do about it right? Let’s see what the scientists are doing.
Some of the solutions they are looking for are using different plants to use the excess nitrogen in the soil.
But there also seems to be a positive effect of plant roots on soil microbes that will reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
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And also how bananas can be used better and how we can keep it in the system. They are all great questions still to be answered.
So a number of solutions show real promise, but there are things you can try on your farm now that could make a difference. Let’s take a look.
Put it in places that need it where nitrogen is low. These technologies are coming or are already out there.
This means that the animals do not need a lot of maintenance feed and this means that you do not need a lot of nitrogen inputs such as fertilizers or supplementary feed.
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Which means less N in the system and will have a positive effect on nitrate leaching as well. So it’s a win win scenario.
In cropping systems the main source of nitrous oxide is fertilizer applied to crops.
The most reliable option is to reduce the amount of nitrogen that hits your soil – by reducing the amount of stock, reducing supplemental feeding or using less fertilizer.
In addition to being very effective at trapping heat, nitrous oxide is a long-lasting greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide. So from a climate change perspective, the warming caused by each new emission of nitrous oxide today is added to
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