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UCR, Honda R&D Partner to Develop Next-Generation Technology to Measure Ultra-low Emissions


UCR, Honda R&D Partner to Develop Next-Generation Technology to Measure Ultra-low Emissions

(June 9, 2000)

Riverside, Calif. - The next-generation gasoline-powered vehicles developed by automakers like Honda are driving tailpipe emissions so low that technology available to scientists today cannot accurately detect and measure those emissions.

In order to measure and understand the environmental impact of these emerging, next-generation automobiles, Honda Research & Development, the University of California, Riverside and state and federal air-quality regulatory agencies have established a join t research program to develop the advanced instrumentation necessary to evaluate such vehicles. The project will assess their environmental impact and assist in further development of emission control systems and fuels.

Details of the multi-year program were announced today (Friday, June 9) by officials of UCR's College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), Honda R&D and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

"Advancements in emission control technology in the last decade have far outpaced our ability to measure and understand the environmental impact of vehicles that will be on the road in the near future," said Joe Norbeck, CE-CERT director and Yeager Families Professor of Engineering at UCR. "The time is now to develop this analytical capability even though regulations mandating vehicles this clean are not yet in effect. We also need to be able to evaluate these vehicles as they operate on the road so that the impact on the environment can be properly assessed."

Honda is among the automakers developing advanced vehicle technology to force tailpipe emissions so low that they are approaching zero-level emissions. The automaker has sought CE-CERT's research expertise in evaluating automobile emissions to more accurately evaluate the environmental impact of the technology, a task that will require new measurement technology.

"Some of the near-zero emission vehicles being developed today are so clean that their emissions are virtually undetectable by existing measurement equipment," said Ben Knight, vice president of Honda Research and Development. "These amazing advancements in automotive technology are driving the need for cooperative technical research to assess the potential benefits of these vehicles. We believe this open, cooperative research and the advancement of this technology will benefit society."

To better understand the air quality benefits of these advanced, gasoline-powered cars, Honda R&D and CE-CERT, together with the EPA and CARB, have initiated a cooperative research program to:

  • Develop technologies and techniques for accurately measuring emissions at near-zero levels;
  • Understand how extremely low-emission vehicles perform on the road under "real world" conditions; and
  • Assess the air quality benefits of these vehicles. Honda R&D has committed $300,000 to the project, with CARB and EPA each contributing $250,000. Norbeck said other partners are expected to join the cooperative research program, with funding ultimately reaching about $2 million a year.

"California is the world leader in adopting air pollution control strategies for mobile sources. I'm excited about Honda's development of these clean internal combustion engines. We need to develop test methods for these new vehicles, and CE-CERT is a good place for that research, " said California Air Resources Board Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd. "This research will help us achieve our zero emission goals, which are necessary in our quest to eliminate emissions despite California's rapid growth in population and vehicle miles traveled."

As the leader of this collaborative research program, CE-CERT will bring objective, credible science and engineering to the understanding of the performance of near-zero emission vehicles and their impact on the environment, Norbeck said.

The research will be conducted primarily at UCR. Since it was established in 1992, CE-CERT has gained a reputation as an "honest broker," providing the unbiased research to guide environmental regulation and evaluate new environmentally friendly technologies. The center's wide-ranging research agenda encompasses alternative fueled vehicles, autonomous vehicles, conversion of biomass such as yard waste into fuel, and atmospheric modeling of pollutants, among other issues.

Honda and CE-CERT partnered last year in a car-sharing program called IntelliShare, which involves about 260 participants using 15 Honda EV PLUS electric cars. The program is part of Honda's international Intelligent Community Vehicle System, which is examining consumer attitudes toward vehicle sharing.


The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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