What if a single inexpensive upgrade could significantly cut your car’s emissions while simultaneously increasing its fuel efficiency? That’s the enticing concept behind the Blade, a chromed-out exhaust filtration module that wouldn’t look out of place on the most pimped of rides. From filtering particulate matter to increasing catalytic converter efficiency, the Blade it makes some pretty incredible claims, but is it truly a shining silver bullet aimed at the black heart of our carbon churning car culture – or just another piece of green-washed bling out to pilfer your pockets?
According to Sabertec, developer of the Blade, the device is capable of reducing greenhouse gasses by up to 34%, filtering vehicle air pollution by up to 57%, and increasing your vehicle’s fuel sefficiency by 10-30%. It reduces emissions with a filter that captures post-catalytic particulate matter, and Sabertec claims that the Blade also decreases the time it takes for your vehicle’s catalytic converter to heat up and prevents exhaust from slipping back into the combustion chamber as it is expelled, theoretically maximizing gasoline efficiency.
Although the blade has been approved by the California Air Resources Board and the EPA, the incredulous among us will find this pill-shaped panacea for our carbon ills a bit hard to swallow. For starters, the device relies upon disposable filters, which must be replaced every 3,000-10,000 miles, cost $20 a pop, and will presumably end up in a landfill. Second, how can a device that by nature filters and restricts exhaust prevent it from trailing back into the combustion chamber?
But perhaps the most problematic aspect of the Blade is the way it empowers car culture by giving free license to gas guzzlers to parade about under an environmental banner: “Blade your ride… because you should feel good about what you drive”. The device even comes with a physical badge to identify your vehicle as “eco-optimized”. Bill O’Brien, the CEO of Sabertech says that “really, when you look at blade, it’s the best thing you can do for your car from an environmental perspective.” He continues to say that “a lot of people put these on their cars just because of how it looks”.
This conflation of image with eco sets a dangerous precedent, and I can already envision hordes of “eco-optimized” SUV’s sporting these banners as a justification to continue on polluting as normal. The blade may help in cleaning up car exhaust, but it ignores the number one way to reduce vehicle emissions: simply don’t drive – walk, ride a bike or use public transportation.