Trials to use lasers to measure vehicle emissions


Scientists plan to measure air pollution from vehicles on the road using laser-based pollution cameras in government funded trials.

The Department for Transport says these trials are the first of their kind in Europe, following a competition to encourage air quality transport innovations.

The ‘emission detection and reporting device’ – or EDAR system – was developed by ex-NASA scientist Stewart Hagar. It passes a laser beam through the exhaust of passing vehicles, seeking to detect minute changes in light which could allow emissions to be estimated.

The EDAR system passes a laser beam through the exhaust of passing vehicles

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: ‘This newly-emerging technology is another example of British universities taking the lead in this area. We are pleased to support important work that improves our understanding of the impact that vehicle emissions have on air quality levels.

‘It is early days for these cameras, but these first trials will help the development of air quality testing in the future.’

The project will be carried by scientists at the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds and Kings College London.

The purpose of the trials is to improve understanding of real world vehicle emissions. The scientists will compare their findings with existing air pollution monitoring stations to gauge the effectiveness of the new technology.

It follows last year’s Volkswagen scandal, in which the vehicle maker was found to have installed ‘defeat devices’ to rig vehicle pollution tests in the US.

The first trial took place in Birmingham last week, followed by a trial at Marylebone in London, to be followed by a further trial at Blackheath, London next week.

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