Chinese Inventor Lowers Tobacco's Tar Content
A Chinese inventor claims that he has developed a technology that can drastically lower the tar content in tobacco.
The technology is considered to be of great commercial value to cigarette manufacturers, experts said.
In addition to the technology, which has attracted worldwide attention, 70-year-old Chen Chuting, a retired technician in east China's Zhejiang Province, also made a number of other inventions.
Chen has started six enterprises.
Using hydroxide ion, light wave, acoustic wave, positive and negative pressures, Chen succeeded in altering the ingredients of tobacco, thus lowering its tar level.
Tobacco firms use conventional means such as filter tips or medical elements to reduce tobacco's tar emission, which contains carcinogenic substances such as nitrosamine and benzopyrene.
Last November, U.S. cigarette maker Philip Morris conducted a test on the tobacco treated by Chen's technology, and was surprised to find that the per cigarette tar content was 11 milligrams, compared with an average of 13-16 mg. The carbon monoxide from the cigarette was also much less.
In May this year, a Taiwanese research institute found that the tar content in tobacco treated by Chen further dropped to 7.43 mg.
Chen, who studied chemical equipment design and manufacturing at Zhejiang University in the 1950s, said he was confident that with advanced technical means he can further lower the tar content to below 5 mg.
Chen used to work at a government agency in the city of Rui'an in Zhejiang. He has been working for years to control tobacco tar, a leading health hazard for smokers.
Using Chinese medicinal herbs, he succeeded in eliminating nicotine in tobacco in June 1998.
Health experts from the University of California have appraised the technology.
Chen estimated that with his technology, a production line that costs one million yuan (about 120,000 US dollars) can process 100 tons of tobacco a day.
Six leading tobacco companies in the United States have shown interest in Chen's technology.
A number of US and Chinese cigarette makers have told Chen that they wished to use the technology.