Vehicle Emission and air quality

The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) Identified the Air Quality modelling sector was in need of bolstering within the UK, 18 Months ago, the TSC included Air Quality modelling as part of its business plan. Since then we have recruited staff with expertise to work in this area and have built our capability around these staff and partners in academic and government.

The TSC’s aim in this work has been to be a natural broker and collate evidence on the performance of vehicle emission technologies and to derive new knowledge from the real-world analysis of on-board, telematic and remote monitoring data. We are then using this knowledge to help to develop new tools and models to assist in the development of policy and other measures to improve air quality.

The TSC has been using data that has been collected on-vehicle and at the roadside to understand how vehicles perform in real world conditions, to develop an understanding of what the key influences are on vehicle emissions throughout the drive cycle.

Roadside sensors (such as Hager’s EDAR) allow us to look at point locations and understand the factors behind the air quality issues that exist there. Onboard sensors (such as Emissions Analytics PEMS) provide data over a standardised drive cycle to allow different vehicles and driving conditions to be compared.

Using this has enabled the TSC to compare different vehicle types, models and ages to develop an understanding of where there is scope for local or national transport policy to have an impact on improving air quality.

Our work with Highways England is building upon research from the Netherlands which is looking at the impact of different driving dynamics/driver behaviour on vehicle emissions. This, together with the other work described above, will help Highways England to develop new guidance for modelling the air quality impact of traffic on trunk roads and motorways.


The TSC’s work in this area is already generating impact within the UK. For example, through Project ACCRA (IUK CAV2Project), the TSC is engaged with all current Clean Air Zone cities, SMEs and industrial partners to develop a practical solution to address poor air quality in cities.

In addition, the TSC is working with Automotive Council and five automotive OEMS to develop the next generation of city modelling tools to inform air quality policy and technology investment decisions. The TSC’s role as a neutral third party has been critical to the success of this project which has required the OEMs to share commercially sensitive new vehicle performance data, which the TSC is anonymising for use as a major project resource.

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