Fourteen years after May was designated Clean Air Month by the American Lung Association in 1994, the quest for cleaner air has taken on added significance. In addition to the recent emphasis on global warming and greenhouse gases, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that more stringent ozone standards will be put in place next March. That could mean that an additional 13 counties could be added to the state’s non-attainment list in Texas alone, bringing the total to about 30 counties that fail to meet the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
TTI’s Center for Air Quality Studies and Transportation Modeling Program are dedicated to solving the problems of pollution through research funded by sponsors like the EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Transportation, among others. Recent initiatives include evaluating new emission reduction technologies, formulating guidelines to optimize transportation funds for air quality improvement, and leading Texas’ statewide transportation air quality public education program.
“The researchers with the Transportation Modeling Program will be helping Texas counties deal with these changing air quality mandates,” says Program Manager Dennis Perkinson. “Our main focus is in using the methods and procedures we’ve developed to estimate vehicle emissions, which is a complicated process.” The emission modeling techniques developed at TTI are used across the state and by the Federal Highway Administration’s National Highway Institute training course.
Meanwhile, TTI’s Center for Air Quality Studies is focusing on the second phase of a $3 million Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant, which is designed to drastically reduce emissions from idling trucks. Idling trucks account for an estimated 13 million gallons of wasted diesel fuel and 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions every day. The project involves the evaluation of onboard technologies that provide heating and cooling to truck cabins through smaller, cleaner engines and battery systems.
“The technology exists today to reduce idle emissions by a huge margin,” says Center Director Joe Zietsman. “Our work will determine the effectiveness of different classes of onboard idle-reduction products. The findings will help the trucking industry make decisions on the equipment that’s available for their fleets.”