Trinity engineers model real-world driving emissions for vehicles in Dublin

Discrepancies between laboratory results and actual emissions are affecting CO2 targets

Emissions from in-use vehicles in Dublin are to be measured and modelled by a team of Trinity engineers to address discrepancies between estimated emission levels and actual levels from real-world driving. 

In light of climate change and increasing air pollution in recent years, European regions have implemented stringent regulations and taxes on vehicles with higher CO2 emissions. In theory, this should reduce the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

However, emissions from driving a vehicle on real roads are often higher than estimates based on the vehicle being tested in a laboratory environment. This underestimation of emissions has led to unforeseen rates of COand air quality not meeting targets based on laboratory results. 

The REDMAP team, comprised of engineers from Trinity, University College Dublin (UCD) and the UK, will measure emissions on real roads using portable measurement equipment and remote sensing. They plan to investigate emissions from more than 150,000 vehicles over a four-month period in Dublin. Diesel vehicles are currently the greatest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions in the country, so reducing vehicle emissions would significantly impact Ireland’s progress towards climate targets. 

Professor Bidisha Ghosh, the principal investigator on the REDMAP project, said that the “expected reduction in emissions from road transport has not been achieved satisfactorily in Ireland or in the wider EU, owing largely to discrepancies between real-world driving emissions and expected emissions according to European standards”.

Ghosh outlined that the “high-density of on-road vehicles and proximity of pollutant generation to high-density urban dwellings”, has meant the impact of air pollution is higher in urban areas like Dublin. “It is imperative that projects such as REDMAP accurately assess the true levels of traffic emissions,” Ghosh continued.

The project aims to verify or rectify current estimates of emissions of various vehicles and fuel types, in the hope that this will allow more accurate legislation and taxation to be implemented and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 

New legislation on Real Driving Emissions (RDE) for all new vehicles starting from September 2019 has been introduced by the European Commission. The REDMAP project will be one of the first projects in the EU to investigate the implementation of RDE testing.   

The project is funded by EPA-Ireland and co-funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport.


Lucy Fitzsimmons

Lucy Fitzsimmons is the SciTech co-Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister student of Chemical Sciences.