Citing increasing concerns about air pollution in big cities, a German company has created a brake dust filter designed to capture the metallic particles shed by a vehicle's brake pads.
Mann and Hummel, a self-proclaimed "global leader in filtration," says its filter captures up to 80 percent of the dust generated by disc brakes. That's significant, if the manufacturer is correct in its assertion that vehicles in Germany alone crank out about 10,000 tons(!) of brake dust every year.
The company says 90 percent of brake dust particles are smaller than 0.55 micrometers, which makes them dangerous to human health: anything smaller than 10 micrometers can penetrate the lungs' tiny air passages and can even enter the bloodstream. (Those stats come from Mann and Hummel's press release, and the company doesn't cite a source for them.)
Mann and Hummel says that while most current emissions legislation focuses on engine exhaust, brake dust pollution is a serious concern in urban areas with large concentrations of stop-and-go traffic. The filters can be made to fit a variety of vehicle types, from passenger cars to subway trains.
Looking past health concerns, we imagine this filter technology would also appeal to drivers who agonize over the mess brake dust makes of alloy and aluminum wheels.
Volkswagen is reportedly doing real-world testing of Mann and Hummel's invention, but we are not aware of any automakers that are set to put the filters on production vehicles.