NOx in the news
In the press last week was the news that the European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution. Britain was supposed to meet EU limits set out in the Air Quality Directive by 2010 but the government has said these levels will not be reached until 2020 in most areas and in London it is likely that they will not be met until 2025.
The main cause of these air-borne contaminants regulated by the EU is diesel engines, but why is Britain so far from the target?
A real-world view of NOx
Although auto manufacturers have introduced a number of modifications to meet the ever tightening controls of NOx emissions, a study conducted by Imperial College London and Emissions Analytics, on Euro 5 light-duty diesels, shows the real-world figures exceed Euro 5 standards threefold in most instances.
In the graph above you can see that all the cars in the sample failed to meet Euro standard 4 or 5 and, only three reached Euro standard 3. It can also be seen that the real-world average NOx emissions is considerably higher than the limits set out in the regulations. This is the same situation we see with fuel efficiency when we measure cars for True MPG, comparing their statutory mpg figures to performance in the real world. However, due to high levels of NOx being produced during stop-start driving, such as in traffic, the resulting gap between regulated and real-world air pollution is even more pronounced.
The reasons for Britain breaching EU regulations are many and complex; both NOx and miles per gallon standards are calculated using the New European Drive Cycle, the shortcomings of which have been widely reported and are supported by Emissions Analytics’ large volume of real-world data. Others have voiced concerns regarding the number of monitoring stations and the use of modelled data in EU Air Quality Directive compliance assessments. What it is clear is that real-world data has an important part to play in policy making.
Euro 6 and beyond…
With the introduction of Euro 6 demanding a drop in NOx of 80 per cent on the previous standard, EA and Imperial are continuing their study to see what the impact of this new ruling will be. Emissions Analytics is also developing a new traffic simulation model which will calculate the effect of speed and congestion on fuel economy, as well greenhouse gas (CO2) and air pollution (NOx and CO) components underpinned by the data from its real-world test of more than 400 models of passenger car.