Real-world vehicle emissions as measured by in situ analysis of exhaust plumes


Courtesy of ECO PHYSICS AG


We conducted a 60-day roadside measurement campaign on a busy street in Münster, Germany, during summer 2016. We used gas and particle concentration measurements with high temporal resolution (10 Hz) to quantify both the emission ratios of nitrogen oxides per carbon dioxide (NOx/CO2) for over 70,000 individual exhaust plumes as well as the emission ratios for size-resolved particle numbers per carbon dioxide (d(PN CO2−1)/dlogD) for about 10,000 plumes. The real-world fleet passing by the measurement station consisted of passenger cars (85%), buses (5.9%), light duty commercial vehicles (5.7%), trucks (1.7%), and motorcycles (1.6%). The median measured NOx/CO2 ratio was 3.33 g kg−1. The median measured PN/CO2 emission ratio for particles with diameters between 0.03 and 10 μm was 5.6 × 1014 kg−1. We compared our results with the Handbook Emission Factors for Road Transport (HBEFA) and the Euro 5 and Euro 6 emission standards by employing traffic counts, assuming the diesel-to-gasoline ratios of vehicles according to registration statistics, and estimating that stop-and-go traffic occurred 65% of the time. Using a conservative estimate, our median ratios exceeded the HBEFA data by more than 65% for NOx/CO and by a factor of about 100 for PN/CO2.Furthermore, our median NOx emission per kilometer travelled (NOx km−1) exceeded the Euro 5 emission limit for diesel cars by a factor of 3 and exceeded the Euro 6 limit by almost a factor of 7. Additionally, our median particle number emission (PN km−1) exceeded the Euro 5 and Euro 6 limits of diesel cars by a factor of almost 150. These results confirm the presumption that the emissions of a real-world traffic fleet comprehensively exceed the legal limits. Very likely, the widespread presence of defeat devices in vehicle emission control systems plays a major role in this discrepancy. This has a strong impact on the apparent inability of authorities to comply with the legal limits of the NO2 concentrations in urban air.

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