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CE-CERT Revs up Diesel Engine Research

Dynamometer Revs Up Diesel Engine Research Lab at UCR’s CE-CERT

New research lab part of program to reduce diesel engine emissions.

(April 18, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( Environmental scientists at UC Riverside have a new research lab to work with, and they are putting the machinery in motion to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of large diesel engines.

Down the road, research made possible by the new diesel research lab, which features a large new dynamometer from the Environmental Protection Agency, is expected to yield a 75 to 95 percent drop in pollution — including fine particulates — from truck and bus emissions.

“This lab lets us work with a larger range of diesel engines,” said Tom Durbin, an associate research engineer at Bourns College of Engineering’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT ). “We can focus very precisely on what we want to study.”

That includes exploring how emissions are formed under different operating conditions in a variety of engines, he said, and pursuing catalysts and aftertreatment technology that can make diesel exhaust as clean as a gasoline vehicle.

The new lab is the only one of its kind in the UC system, Durbin said. Researchers can run big diesel engines under laboratory conditions to find out exactly what is in the exhaust and see how changes in engine design, operation and fuel formulation affect what comes out of tailpipes.

There is not yet an environmentally friendly replacement for the sheer muscle of the diesel engines used in big rigs, locomotives, generators and other workhorses of the economy, said Lisa Arth, the center’s external relations manager, but CE-CERT, in conjunction with state and federal agencies and engine manufacturers, is seeking ways to make diesel exhaust — especially particulate matter — have less environmental impact.

A big part of the new program is the Mobile Heavy-Duty Diesel Emissions Laboratory, a high-tech trailer CE-CERT engineers attach to big rigs in the field. It will continue to make its rounds in the outside world, Durbin said, but researchers can also pull it up beside the new diesel lab and pipe out emissions of the engines under testing.

Research in emissions is moving fast, Durbin said, and new facilities like CE-CERT’s new diesel research lab are helping UCR keep its place out front.

“The 2007 model year is when a lot of the new technology is coming in,” Durbin said. “There’s also going to be a big effort in retrofitting — putting new equipment on older vehicles.”



The University of California, Riverside ( 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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