Detecting tiny exhaust particles to improve human health
Tiny particles in vehicle exhaust are damaging to human health, but some of these emissions have been too small to accurately measure until now. An EU-funded project is developing innovative technologies to achieve real-time analysis of emissions of ultrafine particles smaller than 23 nanometres.
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As the impact vehicles have on the environment is becoming increasingly visible, the rules controlling vehicle emissions are also becoming stricter. While Euro-6 standards aim to reduce the emission of particles larger than 23 nanometres, future standards will target even smaller ultra-fine particle emissions which research suggests are a major cause of respiratory diseases and other health complications, particularly in urban areas with high traffic volumes.
The work being conducted in the SUREAL-23 project will contribute to the implementation of improved emissions regulations for direct injection petrol and diesel engines beyond the current Euro-6 regulations that apply to modern cars.
The SUREAL-23 researchers are developing the necessary technology to be able to accurately measure the size, concentration and composition of both solid and liquid particles smaller than 23 nanometres and down to one nanometre in size.
The project will use state-of-the-art supercontinuum laser technology in combination with photoacoustic analysis to achieve real-time, composition size-specific measurements of exhaust particles. The technologies will be incorporated into instrumentation for use in laboratory testing, for portable devices and for real-time analysis on-board vehicles under real driving conditions.
The tools will be applicable to both diesel and gasoline direct injection vehicles, and will account for the effects of fuel types, lubricants, after-treatment components in the exhaust system and driving conditions. The researchers will analyse the data to assess potential trade-offs between advances in engine technology, efficiency and emissions.
SUREAL-23 aims to generate important insights into the nature and behaviour of ultrafine particle emissions from different vehicle configurations under different conditions. This knowledge will in turn help to develop future emissions regulations and contribute to the development of cleaner, ultra-low emission engines.