News Room

Blade Filter Aims to SLASH EMISSIONS
Thursday, 17 February 2011

The word "blade" conjures images of something being sliced, cut through, or cleaned. That's just what Blade, a new exhaust tip filter from Sabertec, was designed to do to vehicle emissions.

"When we had Blade tested, I was told (by Automotive Testing and Development Services' testers) that of the hundred or so products that claim to reduce emissions, this was the only one that has ever proven to do what it says it would," says Bill O'Brien, CEO of Sabertec, the maker of Blade.

That's a pretty powerful endorsement. O'Brien had Blade tested by an independent facility, the Automotive Testing and Development Services (ATDS)-which is accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and licensed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)-using the stringent EPA 511 protocol. What the tests found were a verifiable repeatable reduction in emissions and a surprise added bonus-fuel savings.

Blade is a filter that attaches to the tailpipe (or tailpipes if there are more than one) of a vehicle to capture soot before it is released into the air. The filter is replaced every 10,000 to 20,000 miles, depending on the age of the vehicle and driving habits of the chauffeur. Although it can be used on hybrids, especially when the vehicle is not using electric or battery power, the filter's greatest benefits will come from using it with gas-powered vehicles that emit pollution. A diesel engine version of Blade is also in development.

O'Brien developed and introduced Blade to the American market based on Sabertec's successful Impact Diesel Particulate Filtration (IDPF) technology designed for heavy-duty diesel applications and used on public buses in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Brazilian product was designed to capture the pollution emitted from diesel engines, but he knew that gasoline-powered cars, if only because of the sheer number of them, were the real soot culprits. "We used the technology to retrofit the filter for passenger cars," he says, a process that began in 2006. "We developed the first prototypes and learned very quickly that it captured a large amount of particulates. It wasn't until we had the prototype emission tested that we discovered not only is it capturing particulate material, but it was also tuning the exhaust for efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions."

Stand near an idling vehicle and you'll know just how overwhelming emissions can be to your lungs. The EPA defines particulate matter (PM), which are present in emissions, as a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. Many of these pollutants are released from the tailpipes of vehicles into the air and then inhaled by us, which can lead to all kinds of health problems. By capturing this soot before it is released, Blade is helping to reduce pollution one vehicle at a time.

If you're mechanically inclined, then you're probably wondering about backpressure. In the simplest terms, backpressure is anything that restricts the flow of air through the exhaust system, which can rob a vehicle of optimal performance. "People have been conditioned to believe that enclosing a vehicle's tailpipe will cause backpressure and adverse effects to the vehicle, but Blade's patented design features a pressure release (V-cut) that allows it to work without causing backpressure," says O'Brien. At the request of CARB, Blade was tested for backpressure. "This request was made because CARB engineers associate increases in exhaust backpressure with increasing NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions and other regulated, environmentally harmful emissions. Products that are found to increase backpressure above the legal limit are not permitted for sale in the state of California or any state that has adopted the California Vehicle Code."

According to the test results released by ATDS, the following conclusions were made: "While a fuel economy improvement of only 2 percent to 8 percent may seem small, this is a significant achievement in comparison to other fuel-saving devices that promise large fuel savings but have not shown any repeatable positive benefit in controlled testing. Automotive manufacturers expend considerable effort to make improvements in fleet fuel economy in this range, and the ability of Blade to provide this level of improvement in an aftermarket, consumer installable device is remarkable." (For a more detailed and technical explanation of how Blade works, visit www.mtgparts.com/how-it-works.)

Although Blade will have a benefit for any driver, O'Brien realized that his filter would be best suited for companies that operated a fleet of vehicles, where it would be regularly monitored and serviced. "Each company did their own testing before they would commit to putting it on their entire fleet," says O'Brien. "Once they saw the data, they were convinced that it was doing what we say it does and put in on all their vehicles." Blade has been adopted by city and state fleets in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Colorado, and California, and chauffeured transportation fleets nationwide. Sabertec also has a working relationship with Limousine Environmental Action Partners (LEAP) which works with companies to help them develop strategies to reduce their carbon emissions and be better stewards of the planet.

"I started to hear a big buzz in the industry about Blade and the significant green impact and savings that it offered," says Eric Alpert, president of MTG. "When major players in our industry started installing Blade and raving about the real savings in fuel costs and emissions, I knew that this was a product that we wanted to offer to our clients. At the time we were putting our own sustainability plan together and this just fit right in. After spending a day with the executives at Sabertec, we quickly knew that this was a perfect fit. Blade is not only backed up with proven data, it's a simple and cost-effective way for any operator to become green."

MTG (www.mtgparts.com) partnered with Sabertec last year to become the exclusive Blade distributor to the limousine industry. "We debuted Blade at The 2010 Limo Digest Show in Atlantic City and literally had operators at our booth from the beginning of the Show until the end every day," says Brian O'Neill, senior sales executive for MTG. In all of my years in sales I have never seen such enthusiasm about a product as I have with Blade. The exciting part is that I am able to speak with an operator and within five minutes calculate a range of savings that they can expect to achieve. About 95 percent of them order product to do their own due diligence or go all in based on the reputation of the product and the big players in the industry who are using it. Several operators, like EmpireCLS, Hermes Worldwide in Denver, Colo., King Transportation in King of Prussia, Pa., and MTC Limousines and Corporate Coach in Bedford Hills, N.Y., have already begun integrating the Blade system into their fleets," he says.

The tests look great, but how does Blade live up to real-world, everyday practical use? According to Joe Brunetto, vice president of fleet and technology for MTC, there have been nothing but benefits associated with using Blade. "Because of how we purchase our fuel, I have full [fuel economy] reporting on our entire fleet," he says. "So we tested Blade on some our vehicles and it showed an 8 to 12 percent increase in fuel economy plus a significant reduction in our carbon output." Brunetto says that he compared data on vehicles that are consistently driven by the same chauffeurs to ensure that he was getting an accurate assessment and not one skewed for different driving styles. Once he was convinced that he would have a positive ROI by using Blade, he put it on all of his sedans, which is the majority of his fleet at about 85 vehicles. "We've had no issues associated with using the Blade product at all," he says, which includes servicing his vehicles and any warranty work.

MTC has been well known for its aggressive sustainability program, which it established in 2006. It is a voluntary member of the EPA's Climate Leaders program, in which participating companies commit to reduce their impact on the global environment by completing a corporate-wide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions, setting aggressive reduction goals, and annually reporting their progress to the EPA. Brunetto says that using Blade has also helped him to secure corporate customers that are looking for sustainable transportation providers. "Obviously there is a cost to maintain our vehicles [with Blade], but the savings we get by using the filters are more than just a monetary benefit. There's also a significant environmental benefit as well that you really can't put a dollar value on."

Brunetto integrated the replacement of the Blade filter into his regular 5,000- and 10,000-mile maintenance schedule. He says that filter, which is replaced at the 10,000-miles mark, only takes a few minutes to change and does not add significant costs to the required maintenance program.

Exclusive Sedan Service in North Hollywood, Calif., was one of the first companies in the industry and the first in Los Angeles to embrace the technology almost 3 years ago. Brandan Stein, vice president of Exclusive, has been a vocal proponent of Blade ever since he "Bladed" the majority of his fleet (Exclusive owns some vehicles that cannot be fitted with Blade).

"It's helped us tremendously with landing business from customers who are interested in [green] transportation," he says. Exclusive put together a packet of information that explains its sustainable practices, which Stein says helped to cinch the deal for many new clients. "Initial tests showed that we got at least a 3-mile-per-gallon savings, so we were sold." But his reason was also much more personal: the well-being of his son. "I thought that if there is anything I could do to keep the planet healthy for my son, I would do it. Blade has shown me that it's doing it."

"I speak with limousine companies throughout our industry every day, and they are constantly looking for a way to cut costs without having to reduce their fleet size or personnel. With gas prices again on the rise and with high demand from customers for sustainable transportation options, many operators are looking toward hybrid vehicles as the solution," says O'Neill. "But by equipping their vehicles with the Blade system, our clients have seen a consistent 8 to 12 percent improvement across the board to their fleet's fuel economy. You can equip 90 vehicles with Blade for less than the cost of one hybrid vehicle. In fact, most companies receive a full return on their investment in as little as four months as a result of the significant fuel savings."

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