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Diesel oxidation catalysts use a chemical process to convert harmful gasses such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into water.

Diesel oxidation catalysts use a chemical process to convert harmful gasses such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into water.

Green practices: EPA grant gives MSU diesel oxidation catalysts

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April 30, 2012

A recent grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded MSU diesel oxidation catalysts to install on 14 University vehicles. The new devices will reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by up to 50 percent.

The catalysts will be installed on vehicles from several departments: the Physical Plant’s* Landscape Services with four, the Physical Plant’s Transportation Services with three charter busses, the Surplus Store and Recycling Center with five and University Stores with two.

The numbers are impressive. The DOCs reduce particulate matter (black soot) emissions by 20 percent, carbon monoxide emissions by 50 percent and hydrocarbons (unburned fuel) by 50 percent. The catalysts use a chemical process to convert harmful gasses such as nitric oxides and carbon monoxide into water.

MSU worked with the Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities organization, a local chapter of the nationwide Clean Cities organization to secure the EPA grant. GLACC supports the community with alternative-energy funding and tries to find different ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation Services is a supporting member.

At one of GLACC’s events, Brian Wolfe, fleet services manager, approached Executive Director Maggie Striz Calnin to see if there were programs available for university fleets. He knew there were many cost-match programs available, but he was after something better.

“I didn’t want to burden departments with any cost-sharing opportunities,” Wolfe said. “This [program] made the most sense and was zero cost to the University.”

The parameters of the grant are that the EPA will pay to install the catalysts. The job will go out for bid to third-party vendors. After the devices are installed, the recipient party has a commitment to keep the vehicles for at least five years before selling them.

This success is another step toward MSU’s drive to decrease its carbon footprint. Wolfe explained, “There’s no one thing that’s going to be the end-all for the University. It’s going to be a combination of everything. And this is another item that we have control over, that we can do.”

Green Issue 2012

*Prior to the creation of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities in January 2013, several IPF departments were a part of the now-dissolved MSU Physical Plant. Some historical articles on this website reference that former unit.