Air Quality Mobile Source Emissions

Environment Canada’s Air Quality Research Division, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, carries out measurements and research of emissions from mobile sources and evaluates relevant control measures.  The team of engineers, chemists and technologists within the Emissions Research and Measurement Section of Environment Canada undertakes activities including: vehicle and engine emissions testing for the federal government's regulatory compliance audit program; quantifying the emission contribution of a range of mobile sources including road, marine, rail, and air transportation; scientific evaluations of alternative and renewable fuels; emissions research on light- and heavy-duty electric and hybrid vehicles; and working with government and industry in the evaluation of after-market exhaust emissions control technologies, fuels, and strategies to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.

Environment Canada’s air quality research facility in Ottawa, Canada, includes a state-of-the-art emissions testing laboratory capable of conducting detailed emission measurements from a variety of mobiles sources including light and heavy duty vehicles and engines, small two- and four-stroke utility engines and sources such as lawnmowers, and large off-road heavy duty sources such as locomotive engines and construction vehicles.  The facility, one of only two of its kind in North America, also includes a unique cold-temperature test cell equipped with a specially designed heavy-duty exhaust emission chassis dynamometer that has the ability to subject vehicles to ambient testing temperatures of as low as -25 degrees Celsius in order to simulate Canadian winter conditions and measure subsequent emission pollutants.

To conduct real-time, in-use exhaust emissions characterizations on a variety of mobile sources, Environment Canada’s experts within the Emissions Research and Measurement group designed and utilize a patented portable emissions sampling system. 

Environment Canada’s mobile emissions research and measurement work is focused in four key areas:

  • Scientific and Technical Support to Regulatory and Inventory Programs
  • Emissions Measurement, Research and Technology Assessment
  • Development of Sampling and Testing Methodologies to Support Regulations, Guidelines and Government Programs
  • Compliance and Enforcement

Scientific and Technical Support to Regulatory and Inventory Programs

Work conducted in this area includes:

  • Emissions and fuel consumption testing support to Transport Canada’s Fuel Consumption Program, which promotes energy conservation and fuel efficiency; approximately 40 vehicles are tested annually at Environment Canada’s vehicle emissions testing facility
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of particulate instrumentation for the measurement of emissions from on-road vehicles in support of Canada’s On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • Research to determine the impact of nitrogen dioxide emissions from sulphur contamination in Tier 1 light duty vehicle oxidation catalysts, in support of the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Emissions Measurement, Research and Technology Assessment

Work conducted in this area includes:

  • Characterization of particulate matter and precursor emissions from a variety of technologies and fuels used in light duty diesel vehicles and heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines, including research on engines operating on renewable fuels with selected aftertreatment devices
  • Evaluation of the impacts of ethanol blended fuels on emissions from advanced technology vehicles such as hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
  • Evaluation of the impact of diesel oxidation catalysts for locomotive engines
  • Measurement of particulate sizing and distribution from new technology urban buses; clean diesels, natural gas, hybrids
  • Characterization of emissions from a heavy duty diesel engines operating on 20% blends of biodiesel based on soya, canola and tallow esters, with a focus on measuring volatile organic compounds, carbonyls, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and organic and elemental carbon
  • Characterization of emissions from light duty gasoline vehicles operating on low blend (10% and 20%) ethanol gasoline and 85% blend ethanol gasoline
  • Research on methods to detect polycyclic aromatic compounds in diesel exhaust using multidimensional gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry
  • Assistance to the optimization and development of new control technologies for heavy duty diesel on- and off-road engines; selective catalytic reduction for nitrogen oxides control, active regeneration of diesel particulate traps
  • Collaborative studies with hydrocarbons – animal diesel exhaust inhalation and in-vitro cell assay
  • Support to a study on chemistry of particulate and aerosols from internal combustion engines

Development of Sampling and Testing Methodologies to Support Regulations, Guidelines and Government Programs

Work conducted in this area includes:

  • Development of test cycles for off-road equipment, in part to support the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Global Technical Regulations and the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations
  • Participation on test lab committee of Working Party on Pollution and Energy, a subsidiary body of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, for the development of new sampling methodologies and test apparatus
  • Conducting testing on light and heavy duty hybrid vehicles to support the development of emissions and performance test methodologies for North America
  • Investigation of particulate matter sampling methodologies for marine vessel diesel engines; conducting on-board testing using the United States Environmental Protection Agency Method 5, Code of Federal Regulations Part 86, and portable emissions measurement systems instrumentation; collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard and commercial vessel operators  (in support of Canada’s Clean Air Regulatory Agenda).

Compliance and Enforcement

Work conducted in this area includes:

  • Compliance testing of vehicle and engine emissions in accordance with the federal government’s regulatory compliance audit program for new light-duty vehicles, small spark ignition and heavy duty engines, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles offered for sale in Canada.  Compounds tested include total hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, methane, carbonyls, non-methane hydrocarbons, non-methane organic gases.
  • Correlation testing of small sparks ignition and compression ignition engines, light-duty vehicle testing and heavy-duty vehicle research and development.