Measuring car emissions under real-world conditions

The EDAR units being set up at the side of Tyburn Road

Researchers in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences have recently been involved in trialling a new technology to monitor emissions of individual vehicles on real roads, under real conditions.

Recent developments in the car industry have highlighted the need for vehicle emissions to be measured under real-world driving and maintenance conditions. Historically this has been impossible to achieve on a vehicle by vehicle basis. Hence only whole fleet characteristics were measured. Now EDAR (Emissions Detection And Reporting) technology allows exhaust emissions monitoring of individual vehicles on real roads under real conditions.

For the first time in Europe, the EDAR technology, which was recently developed by the US firm HEAT (Hager Environmental & Atmospheric Technologies), was trialled on the Tyburn Road (A38). The site was chosen because it is a main arterial road into Birmingham and has existing pollution infrastructure.

The following pollutants: CO, CO2, NO, NO2 and particulates were measured. In addition to the EDAR measurements, ‘sniffer’ van drive-bys were also carried out using the University’s highly instrumented atmospheric measurement van. The measurements taken from this will provide the School field team with a link between what is emitted by the cars and what that actual concentration is in the air i.e. what we breathe.

Over 10,000 cars were sampled during the campaign and the field team are now working to analyse the data. 

The work has been funded by the Department for Transport under an innovation award (£61k, Principal Investigator Francis Pope, and Co-Investigators Bill Bloss and Roy Harrison), and the field team in the School includes Hao Huang, Leigh Crilley, Louisa Kramer, Ajit Singh and Nick Davidson.