The University of California, Riverside (UCR) will release the latest findings of its Study of Extremely Low Emission Vehicles (SELEV) programme on Wednesday, September 4, 2002.

Findings of the study of internal combustion engine “clean technology” will be discussed at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, Centre for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) during the first Clean Mobility Symposium, “Cars, Fuels and the Future of Air Quality.”

The three-year study is being conducted to determine how low the level of emissions from certain internal combustion engines can go, how to measure those extremely minute quantities of emissions, and how new emission control technologies will affect overall air quality.

Extremely low-emission internal combustion engines that are powered by petrol — engines that are available in dealer showrooms today — can have significant environmental impacts without requiring alternative technologies, according to CE-CERT.

The symposium will feature a panel discussion examining the real-world impact of near-zero emission internal combustion engine vehicles, measurement challenges, and impacts caused by increasingly efficient emissions control technologies. The panel also will discuss the environmental impact of improved petrol and internal combustion engine technologies.

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“The SELEV project is significant in that most people will continue to drive internal combustion engine vehicles for many years,” says CE-CERT director Joseph Norbeck, professor of environmental engineering. “This study is designed specifically to determine how this engine technology can continue to decrease emissions while delivering the performance consumers expect from their cars.”

CE-CERT established the SELEV program in June 2000 to understand the impact that new-generation vehicles have on overall air quality. In the early 1990s, it was widely believed that a change to alternative fuels would be required to achieve the mandate for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) established by the state of California.

The California Air Resources Board now lists more than 90 petrol-fuelled car models that meet the ultra-low emission vehicle standard for the 2002 model year and six that meet the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standard, with more expected to be added during the coming year.

ULEVs emit about half as many smog-forming hydrocarbon gases and carbon monoxide as Low Emission Vehicles, themselves significantly cleaner (by more than two-thirds) than vehicle standards from as recent as 1993. The next rung down the emissions ladder includes SULEVs, which have far fewer tailpipe emissions — meeting standards that allow about one-fifth the smog-forming hydrocarbon gases and less than one-tenth the nitrogen oxide emissions of the ULEV standard.