NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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16.12.2004

New device enables immediate traffic emissions monitoring

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has together with a European research consortium developed a new remote measurement device that measures emissions of vehicles. This accurate device, named REVEAL, can be placed by the roadside where it measures directly the exhaust emissions of the passing vehicles. The device simultaneously records the "high polluters" license number and passes on the information to the system operator, or potentially to the driver. Repair of defective engines improves the air quality and diminishes detrimental effects on the environment significantly. The REVEAL device, developed and validated as a collaboration between several European research organizations and companies, has been tested in a number of different European metropolitan areas.

The device for measuring exhaust fumes by the roadside developed by VTT has been tested in several European cities. At best the device can identify the emissions of thousands of vehicles per day as they drive, and the system records the registration numbers of major polluters.
High resolution image (274 Kb)
Photo: Golden River Traffic Ltd.
Two remote measurement device prototypes have been manufactured, and test measurements have been made in England, Holland, Italy and Greece. The devices measured emissions from in excess of 20.000 cars per day. The REVEAL device has the capability to measure emissions from a different vehicle every second, corresponding to some of the fastest-moving traffic flows. Measurement results made in London showed that some 10 percent of the vehicles caused in excess of 90 percent of the toxic carbon monoxide emissions. The new measurement system is capable of measuring the exhausts of both petrol and diesel engines, making it very suitable for the European vehicle fleet.

VTT's Senior Research Scientist, Markku Känsäkoski says that this remote measurement device, developed with the help of EU financing, is more accurate and less expensive than the devices in the market at the moment that are mainly used in the USA . The measurement is based on optically measurable changes that are caused by the exhaust gas in an infrared beam that is sent across the road.

According to the Professor of Transportation Economics, Pia Koskenoja, from the Tampere University of Technology, the regulatory authorities are in need of new tools in order to find vehicles that are major polluters until reliable exhaust analyzers (so called On-Board Diagnostics, or OBD) are integrated as part of all vehicles.

Owners of the vehicles become more concerned about emissions if they know that their cars are being constantly monitored while in use. Deploying the REVEAL device, a person who drives constantly with a highly polluting vehicle runs a greater risk of getting caught. Following the policy implemented in the United States, authorities could also reward vehicle owners with lower emissions by giving them discount on e.g. road taxes or exempting them from paying for the emissions part of the periodic inspection tests.

The development work was supported as part of the EU's Fifth Framework Competitive and Sustainable Growth programme. Technology organisations VTT (Oulu, Finland) and Sira (Chislehurst, UK) who collaborated on the REVEAL development have both applied for international patents to protect the innovative technology, and are working on setting up licensing agreements for manufacture and distribution of the measurement device.

Additional information: www.sira.co.uk/reveal


Photo: VTT
VTT Electronics
Senior Research Scientist
Markku Känsäkoski
Tel. +358 8 551 2290, +358 40 545 0903
markku.kansakoski@vtt.fi
Sira Innovation Ltd
Managing Director
Andrew Crookell
Tel. +44 20 8467 2636
andrew.crookell@sira.co.uk

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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