West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) will soon take its transportable vehicle emissions laboratory to Washington D.C., to test the emissions from several different types of alternative-fuel buses that are part of that city’s transit fleet.

CAFEE has entered into a partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to conduct the testing. The project will evaluate and compare the environmental impact of the 10-bus fleet, which includes vehicles powered by hybrid-electric diesel, compressed natural gas, biodiesel and clean diesel. Other types may be added in the future.

“Our mission is to reduce harmful vehicle emissions and increase fuel efficiency, with a special focus on our nation’s heavy-duty vehicles, including buses and trucks,” said Chris Atkinson, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and CAFEE director.

The WVU Transportable Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Test Laboratory is the only laboratory of its type in the nation. It is fully mobile and provides highly accurate measurement of vehicle efficiency and emissions on-site at client facilities, said Atkinson.

The laboratory is equipped to measure emissions from a wide range of vehicles and stationary engines as well as locomotives and ships. WVU researchers have used the lab to perform testing at many locations throughout North America, and are working on plans to take it to California and Florida in the near future for additional bus and truck testing.

“The ability to transport the emissions laboratory to agencies’ facilities, rather than transporting the vehicles to the laboratory, minimizes time out-of-service and transportation logistics issues,” said Atkinson.

Andrew Nix, a research assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, is the lead researcher on the D.C. project. For this project, said Nix, the lab will be set up at the Transit Authority’s Carmen Turner Facility in Landover, Md.

“We have developed extensive expertise and capabilities in this area over the past 20 years,” said Atkinson, noting that WVU has received a great deal of support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Vehicle Technology and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (DOT-FTA), with funding from Congress initiated through the vision of Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

In addition to the testing being performed for WMATA this fall, researchers will be collecting additional data from the buses to contribute to existing CAFEE research projects for DOT-FTA’s Integrated Bus Information System program and for the DOE’s ongoing studies of ultra-low-emissions, high-efficiency vehicles. WVU has pioneered test methods and protocols for hybrid bus testing, facilitating studies of the fuel economy and emissions reduction potential of hybrid transit bus fleets.

WVU CAFEE has broad expertise in the measurement of vehicle exhaust emissions, fuel economy and environmental impact and has one of the nation’s most knowledgeable and experienced teams in the characterization of emissions and performance of heavy-duty, on-road vehicles. The Center receives approximately $5 million per year in external research funding, and has conducted research for a wide range of sponsors, including the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation, NIOSH, Southcoast Air Quality Management District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, major engine manufacturers, the California Air Resources Board, fuel providers, and several state and municipal agencies. CAFEE has also built the largest national repository of heavy-duty vehicle exhaust emissions data.



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