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#32. Rachel Muncrief of ICCT on the TRUE Emissions Initiative

07.16.18 | Podcast | By:

Rachel Muncrief with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) joined the podcast to talk about The Real Urban Emissions (“TRUE”) Initiative.  TRUE seeks to enable evidence based policy and consumer choices by revealing the gap between tested and real world emissions from the vehicles on our roads. Following is an excerpt from our discussion about the Initiative. We also discussed whether other countries/regions beyond the EU would get involved in real-world emissions testing, compliance and enforcement of vehicle emissions around the world (download a report from ICCT that was referenced in the podcast here), the ongoing impact of Dieselgate and the future of the global light-duty fleet, among other things. You can listen or download the podcast below or listen to it in ITunes.

Remote Sensing to Test Real-World Emissions:

“The main technology that we’re sort of using to measure real-world emissions for the TRUE project is called remote sensing. It’s basically set up on a side of a real street where you have real people driving by. The cars don’t know what you’re doing. They don’t know that they are being measured for emissions or anything like that and you essentially pass a beam of light through the exhaust of the vehicle as they drive by and that beam of light essentially is able to give you the concentration of different pollutants like NOx, hydrocarbons and CO in the exhaust.


At the same time that the vehicle drives by, you’re getting the speed and acceleration of the vehicle that’s being tested and you’re getting the license plate of the vehicle and from that you can get the specifications of the vehicle such as the make, model, year and the fuel type. You have this information about the vehicle. You have a snapshot of the emissions every time a vehicle goes by. One vehicle passing by or 10 vehicle passing by doesn’t give you a lot of information, but what you get over time is you get thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of vehicles passing by and by that point statistically you’re able to actually get a lot of information about the emissions in the fleet to the point where you can actually say the average emissions of a given vehicle model.


What’s happened is in Europe there’s been a number of these remote sensing campaigns done over the past five years, not necessarily by us, but by other researchers as well. There was a project called CONOX which was sponsored by the Swiss government and the purpose of that project was to essentially pool all the existing remote sensing data all over Europe. Europe’s a single market so essentially all the vehicles that are being sold all over Europe are the same; there’s nothing that’s specific about driving a vehicle in Paris or a vehicle in London. The same model is going to have similar emissions signature.


We were involved with this project to pool all the European data and then just that alone gave us a data base of over 700,000 individual records. Then the TRUE project got additional funding to sponsor another about 200,000 records. Those are being collected in London and Paris. Actually, by the time the Paris testing is finished we’re going to have close to a million records for Europe. That gives you, there’s a lot you can do with that level of data in terms of figuring out real world emissions for vehicles. The initiative has its own website. On that website you can actually go ahead, if you live in Europe, and look up your vehicle make and model and you can kind of see how it scored  in terms of real-world NOx emissions. That’s already available and there’s also some reports for people who want to learn more about the technical details.


Regarding, our future cities, yes, we definitely want to work in more cities within Europe and then also expand outside of Europe, but Europe has some cities that are really struggling with bad air quality issues. So do many cities outside Europe and that’s kind of usually how we decide where  we want to work. Cities in Asia and Latin America would probably be our next target.



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