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ESTACA Researchers Look at Air Quality

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Air pollution: an issue at the heart of current public debate

Traffic is one of the primary causes or air pollution in urban airs, with vehicles emitting not only gas pollution (NO, NO2) but also fine and ultra-fine particles (less than 100 nanometers in size). These extremely harmful particles penetrate deep into the respiratory system and are responsible every year for almost 48,000 premature deaths, or 9% of national mortality in France.

The public authorities are grappling with the issue. On 12th November, politicians from the greater Paris region voted to install a Low-Emissions Zone (ZFE), banning the circulation of the most polluting vehicles (Crit'Air 5) in 79 towns and villages located inside the A86, from July 2019.

For several years, ESTACA has been working with its institutional partners, academics and industries in the automotive, rail and aeronautics sectors on this issue.

A Workshop to study the impact of transport on air quality

The purpose of this scientific research event is to bring together scientists, industrialists, users and institutions responsible for drawing up standards on the contemporary issues of the pollution generated by our various means of transport. Among the issues discussed were:

  • Monitoring air quality around Paris airports (Survol, Airparif project)
  • Characteristics and analysis of land transport pollution infiltrating vehicle compartments (CAPTIHV, Estaca-Airparif projects);
  • Managing air quality in the automotive industry (Maurice Bellamou, Denso);
  • The impact of polluting emissions from ships, locomotives and motorways on air quality in the Los Angeles basin (Prof. Constantinos Sioutas, University of South California);
  • The “Antismog” project to reduce pollution caused by traffic jams (Newecotechno)

Leading-edge research at ESTACA on air quality inside passenger compartments: the example of the CAPTIHV project
Backed by the French agency for the environment and energy (ADEME), ESTACA is currently working on the CAPTIHV project (Characterization and Analysis of Pollutants from Automotive Transport and Infiltration into Vehicle Compartments). Approved by the competition cluster ID4CAR, the aim of this project is to better understand the mechanisms affecting the dispersion of gaseous and particulate pollution, from their exhaust emission to their infiltration into passenger compartments. It measures the concentrations of pollutants found there using experimental wind tunnel studies and on-board measurements made in the Paris region.

On-board measurements examined the influence of the vehicle’s internal parameters (type and method of ventilation, window opening, age and type of vehicle) but also external parameters (traffic, road infrastructure and weather) on Vehicle Interior Air Quality (VIAQ). The results on an urban route showed that the concentration of NOx and the number of particles measured in the passenger compartment could respectively reach 50 and 24 times those measured outside the vehicle.

The CAPTIHV project will lead to recommendations concerning how to adapt aeration and ventilation to the driving conditions.