Wade Roush, a fellow MIT alum and a star journalist (of MIT Technology Review fame) just covered GEO2 Technologies at Xconomy.com. I love his writing style, but let me tell you this. I am amazed how quickly he understood the intricacies of not just our materials processing capabilities, but also the product performance metrics that are of importance in the emissions control industry.
Check out Xconomy.com, a Boston based technology/startup blog that has a very high quality of reporting.
Here’s an excerpt from the xconomy post on us:
What’s the common thread between the space shuttle’s thermal tiles, log-cabin mansions in Aspen, Play-Doh, pasta makers, and diesel engines? There is one—really—but to find out what it is, you have to pay a visit to GEO2 Technologies in Woburn. The clean-energy startup has turned an industrial warehouse just off I-95 into a giant kitchen-laboratory, complete with giant microwave, for baking advanced diesel-exhaust filters.
Most exhaust filters are designed as honeycombs of interlocking tunnels made of conventional ceramics. Zuberi and Lachenauer say the company spent more a year on an ultimately futile attempt to make these honeycombs by boring holes in big blocks of microfiber-based ceramics. The holes were too large and imprecise, and the process was wasteful, since more than half of the material in a bored-out microfiber block would have to be thrown away.
That’s when it occurred to Zuberi and Lachenauer that the process normally used with conventional ceramics, extrusion, might work better. But nobody had ever figured out how to blend ceramic microfibers into the Play-Doh-like consistency needed for the extrusion process, in which the material is squeezed through holes in a die, similar to the extruding discs used in pasta makers but with much more complicated geometries. So GEO2 experimented with different kind of microfibers and binding agents until it found the right blend. The company ultimately bought a whole assembly line of industrial-strength kitchen gadgets to make the filters, including a giant mixer, a torpedo-sized extruder, a 15-foot-tall microwave oven (to dry the extruded filters) and a large sintering oven (to fire them).
Zuberi believes that multifunction diesel filters may also be one key to a potential renaissance for diesel-powered passenger cars in the United States. “If you drive a lot in the city, sure, buy a Prius, but if you are going to do a lot of highway driving, a gasoline hybrid doesn’t gain you anything,” he says. “Meanwhile, diesel cars in Europe and Japan are getting 43 to 53 miles per gallon.” With technology like GEO2’s new filters, the perception that diesel engines produce dirty smoke will be overcome, and manufacturers will be able to improve emissions control without sacrificing profitability, Zuberi predicts. “It’s an easy sell.”