Pollution from cars: production and effects of pollutants

Chemical Storylines DF6-DF10.

Production and effects of pollutants from petrol.

OCR Salters B F331

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Unburnt hydrocarbons, CxHy

Production:

  • Evaporative emissions and incomplete combustion

Effects:

  • Contributes to formation of photochemical smog, causing respiratory problems

Way to reduce pollutant:

  • Reduced by catalytic converters and oxygenates, but this means CO2 is increased
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Carbon monoxide, CO

Production:

  • Incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons

Effects:

  • Toxic to humans as it decreases the uptake of oxygen by the blood

Way to reduce pollutant:

  • Reduced by catalytic converters and oxygenates, but this means CO2 is increased
  • Reduced in lean burn engines, but this may mean CxHy is increased
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Carbon dioxide, CO2

Production:

  • Complete combustion of hydrocarbons

Effects:

  • Causes the greenhouse effect and global warming

Way to reduce pollutant:

  • Hydrogen is the only petrol alternative which doesn't produce CO2
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Nitrogen oxides, NOx

Production:

  • Nitrogen from the air reacts with oxygen from the air in the high temperatures of the engine

Effects:

  • Contributes to the formation of photochemical smog, causing respiratory problems
  • Causes acid rain

Way to reduce pollutant:

  • Reduced by catalytic converters but this means that CO2 is increased
  • Reduced in lean burn engines, but this may mean CxHy is increased
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Sulphur oxides, SOx

Production:

  • Sulphur in petrol reacts with oxygen in the air in the heat of the engine

Effects:

  • Causes acid rain which erodes limestone buildings and damages forests and lakes

Way to reduce pollutant:

  • Low sulphur petrol can be produced by desulphurisation
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