Independent Study Finds Vehicle Emission Testing Is Not Reliable

Independent Study Finds Vehicle Emission Testing Is Not Reliable

Colwich, KS January 21, 2019:  A new study finds that many of the test fuels used in emissions research studies do not reflect the makeup of consumer fuels, limiting the ability of ethanol to be used to reduce emissions and improve vehicle efficiency. The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) is pleased to announce the completion of an independent, third party study titled Effects of Ethanol Blends on Light-Duty Vehicle Emissions: A Critical Review. The consultants reviewed, assessed and compared close to 100 different peer reviewed vehicle emission studies. UAI believes this study will help influence future fuel policy because it’s a validated resource that researchers can access for fuel blending in forthcoming vehicle emission studies.

The consultants discovered that a significant number of match blended fuel studies do not represent real world fuel properties. “This validates the concerns UAI has raised for years, that ethanol is penalized because the studies EPA uses do not accurately model the emission reducing benefits of ethanol,” said UAI Technical Director Steve Vander Griend.  “The information uncovered by this study aids UAI in our ongoing efforts to fully understand the dangers of aromatics used in today’s gasoline.”

A key point in the analysis is that consumer fuels are blended as economically as possible at the refinery and that is not the case in match blended fuel studies. In addition, the match blending method creates fuels that are not consistent from one study to the next and draws into question the fuel’s ability to make real-world emission predictions.

“The reality, as shown in this analysis, is that measured and modeled effects of ethanol blending on gaseous and particulate emissions have varied widely between studies, to the point that it is difficult to reach any summary conclusions on ethanol’s emissions effects. It’s time to take another look at ethanol’s emissions because what we find may be surprising,” said consultant Tammy Klein with Future Fuel Strategies.

The study was conducted by Future Fuel Strategies and relied on the experience of highly regarded experts with emissions, vehicle modeling, and fuel and refinery expertise. Many of the studies they focused on were organized by the Coordinated Research Council (CRC), which has the support of the petroleum industry and is relied upon by the EPA for fuels and emissions data.  In addition to the study, the consultants have written two different technical papers, one of which is already in peer review. The results of the analysis will also be presented at the CRC Real World Emission Workshop in March.

Test fuels are critical to the ethanol industry because they are the supporting evidence the EPA uses to establish fuel regulations that dictate the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline. UAI believes this third party analysis can be used as a tool to establish a consensus on how to model test fuels moving forward. The goal would be for the EPA to create a fuel blending standard.

UAI welcomes the opportunity to work with the EPA and other key parties to create a fuel testing process that truly reflects consumer fuels and real-world emissions. From UAI’s perspective, an updated process would help erase unnecessary regulations, give consumers access to lower carbon and less toxic fuels, improve our country’s air quality and most importantly improve our public health.