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Innovative solution to aid reduction of roadside air pollution

A British company has utilised innovative technology, capable of detecting very low levels of toxic particulates emitted from diesel cars, well below the limits used by the existing MOT test in the UK.Specifically designed to be used by garage technicians for vehicle emissions testing, the equipment can quickly verify the integrity of the diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is a mandatory component on all Euro 5 and Euro 6 vehicles.

Vehicle emissions have been the subject of much debate in recent years. The reduction of nitrogen dioxide levels has been a key focus of recent government initiatives, but invisible particulates from diesel cars are potentially even more harmful. Diesel particulates have been shown to carry carcinogenic and mutagenic chemical species on their surface and can transport these substances around the body, once breathed into the lungs.

Revisions to the MOT test were introduced in 2018 in order to improve both visual inspection of DPFs and to lower the threshold of smoke value readings, with a view to identifying more polluting cars. However, the new limits only apply to Euro 6 vehicles and are still significantly higher than can be achieved when a fully functional DPF is fitted to a Euro 5 or Euro 6 vehicle. The new limits are essentially a reflection of the capability of the current equipment used for smoke testing during an MOT, rather than ensuring that diesel vehicles are as clean as they can be when properly maintained.

SP Diagnostics is part of the Bartec group. The company designs and manufactures products and services for the automotive industry and aftermarket. It is also a global leader in tyre pressure tools in the automotive aftercare market, and is campaigning for more stringent monitoring of transport related air pollution. The company is advocating this affordable and practical solution as a more robust method of identifying gross polluting cars, providing an opportunity to quickly improve air quality. Trials have shown that the equipment can easily identify vehicles emitting excess particulate pollution which would pass the existing MOT. The resulting improvement in air quality would have a significant positive effect on public health.

The company is currently in discussion with UK government officials in relation to the methodology and is driving for adoption of this solution to help reduce pollution at roadside and therefore to improve air quality. It has also invited some MOT stations to sign up for a trial.

Bartec Auto ID specialises in tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) on a global scale, holding 80 per cent of the market share of car plant installations in Europe and North America. The group has an extensive network of distributors across Europe.