“Soot-free” is likely to become an increasingly adopted standard for vehicles in cities across the world. A soot-free engine is one that meets the Euro VI standard, in Europe, or EPA 2010 in the US. And now China has joined in, with a China VI standard for carbon-free vehicles.
China’s battle against pollution
China has been battling pollution for some time and trying to reduce the adverse effects on its population’s health, from poor air quality. Its new VI standard is a major step forward in this struggle, and given China’s size and importance in world trade it will have a major impact on the market for carbon-free vehicles, and on the development of new fuels. This will eventually affect even seemingly unrelated areas such as motorsport fuels, as the carbon-free trend affects all cars, including those used in sport.
The new standard for emissions is very far-reaching. Vehicles accounting for about 90% of particulate emissions and almost 70% of N0X emissions will be affected by the VI standard. These are the pollutants that affect particulate matter in the air, and produce ozone. They’re responsible for the haze that we’ve frequently seen in pictures coming from China. In fact, there are now some “blue days” over cities like Beijing, as environmental controls take effect.
China intends the new standard to cut emissions by between 82% to 86% by the year 2030. The Chinese estimate that this will prevent 29,000 deaths a year, currently caused by the health effects of air pollution.
Black carbon reductions
Black carbon produced by diesel engines has a near-term warming impact up to 3,200 times higher than CO2. However, black carbon particles don’t live very long, only staying in the atmosphere for a matter of a few weeks. Reducing the amount of black carbon in the atmosphere could have a very quick effect in helping slow the rate of climate change. The International Council On Clean Transportation (ICCT) has estimated that the China VI standard will bring about a black carbon reduction of 993,000 metric tons in the period 2020 – 2050.
Many major vehicle manufacturers are now making it easier for urban authorities to buy vehicles that are pollution free. Volvo Buses, Scania, Cummins and BYD are working with cities to provide buses that have the latest clean power technology. In China, several cities have converted to zero emission vehicles. For instance, the Chinese city of Shenzhen has electrified its whole fleet of buses, resulting in zero emissions. This must be a development that cities such as London, with its own pollution problems, will be looking at with interest.
China is such a global giant that its drive to cut pollutants from engines will have a substantial effect on global warming chemicals. Its size means that “soot-free” engines may soon become the norm, affecting even high-performance vehicles, and fuels. Motorsport fuels with lower pollution profiles are already being researched and designed, and we can expect this trend to grow strongly.