ARCHIVED - NRC Helps Reinforce Tough Vehicle Emission Standards

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April 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

NRC researchers have created a technology that's helping enforce some of the world's toughest vehicle emission standards.

"These levels are so low and detailed they can't be measured with previously used technologies," says Greg Smallwood, who leads NRC's Ottawa-based combustion research team. "This is why they're so excited about our technology."

NRC patented the optically-based technology, known as laser-induced incandescence (LII), and licensed it to California-based Artium Technologies. In 2005, based on the NRC technology, Artium released a simple, portable LII instrument no bigger than a brief case – making it available to a broad range of users, from regulatory agencies to vehicle engine designers.

NRC's Greg Smallwood and Reg Smith use an NRC-patented technology to measure particulates in vehicle emissions - in the lab and on the road.
NRC's Greg Smallwood and Reg Smith use an NRC-patented technology to measure particulates in vehicle emissions - in the lab and on the road.

California's Air Resources Board has used Artium's commercial LII system to evaluate heavy-duty truck performance under the State's new not-to-exceed emissions standard. The system allowed for reliable on road, real-time data to be collected and analyzed.

NRC has also collaborated with Environment Canada, using LII to measure particulate emissions from advanced technology vehicles. These vehicles use new engine designs and fuels, such as those produced from Canada's oil sands.

Tests conducted with this NRC technology have provided key insights to the tradeoffs between improved fuel efficiency and increased particulate emissions. "This technology makes it possible to measure the emissions of soot from the exhaust of a traveling vehicle at parts per quadrillion," says Smallwood.

NRC is now developing a unique, portable high-sensitivity LII-based sensor that Environment Canada researchers can use for detailed air quality measurements.

As well, NRC researchers are going beyond LII technology, pushing the boundaries of particulate science by using LII and other laser-based techniques to develop ways to identify the size, concentration and structure of particulates. This information will ultimately help us better understand their health impacts.

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