Q&A: Victor Valverde-Morales from the EU Commission Joint Research Center




The introduction of the new mandatory Real Driving Emissions test procedure for all light duty vehicles by the EU Commission has significant impacts on powertrain engineering, exhaust after-treatment systems, type-approval procedures and measurement technology.

Automotive IQ's Real Driving Emissions conference allowed international experts from various stakeholders in the field to come together in Berlin to discuss emissions regulations in Europe, the United States and other major markets worldwide. One of the guest speakers at the event was Victor Valverde-Morales, scientific officer for the EU Commission Joint Research Center. We caught up with him at the event:

What are the main changes in the fourth Real Driving Emissions (RDE) package?

The fourth regulatory package intends to simplify the RDE procedure whilst strengthening the framework for emissions control. So simplification is achieved in the way trip dynamics are assessed and final emission factors are calculated. By means of a data-driven revision of the ex-post evaluation methods, RDE4 now proposes a unique method, powertrain-independent, of checking the validity of a trip, using a fine-tuned version of the moving window method, and for most of the trips, final reported emissions are raw – that is the ones directly measured by the Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS).

Besides, clarifications have been added to the text in order to have a straightforward procedure. And on top of that, the new in-service conformity procedure has been introduced which essentially allows PEMS testing on vehicles already on the market that are up to five years old or with a mileage of up to 100,000km, as required by the emissions legislation. With RDE4, checking the compliance of the emissions for vehicles that are already on the market may now be performed by OEMs and TAA, but also independent parties, through accredited laboratories.

With the introduction of the 4th RDE package, how will this have an impact on the industry and what changes will need to be made?

Manufacturers that want to sell vehicles in the EU will need to make sure that their vehicles comply with the emissions limits, not only at the approval step, but also throughout the lifetime of the vehicles. So, this means that the after-treatment systems will need to be efficient and durable to cope with the emissions inside the wide range of driving conditions defined in the RDE regulation. With the new ISC rules, the compliance can now be checked through accredited labs by EU member states, environmental NGOs, other OEMs, consumers associations, etc.

So, for example, we are already seeing since the enforcement of the regulation in September 2017 that diesel vehicles are now being equipped with one or two SCR catalysts and gasoline vehicles with direct injection now have particulate filters, which is a direct consequence on the particle number limit that we have set here in Europe.

How do you assess the possibility of future global harmonization of emission regulations? What is the Joint Research Center (JRC) doing to facilitate this?

The Joint Research Center, as a scientific and technical research center, has a long story in collaborating with the United Nations in the context of harmonization of regulations for emissions. For example, for the CO2 and emissions laboratory test, there were a lot of colleagues working on the development of the Global Technical Regulation GTR 15, WLTP.

But, also since last June, the JRC is involved in the Informal Working Group that will work towards a Global Technical Regulation for RDE. The working group is led by Europe, since the European RDE regulation is the first worldwide on-road test procedure in force for light duty vehicles, but also representatives from USA, Japan, Canada, China, and South Korea participate.

What is the basic approach regarding the issues of PEMS uncertainties and conformity factors? How can this be established in a robust way?

In the RDE jargon, the margin accounts essentially for the additional uncertainty associated to the PEMS instrument on board the car as compared to standard laboratory equipment. The PEMS is mounted on the car and is subjected to vibrations, to heat, to rain, to dust, etc., that might affect the instrument performance. The margin accounts for this extra measurement uncertainty.
The regulation obliges the European Commission to annually review the appropriate value of the margin in light of technical progress of portable systems under real-life operation. And at JRC, as a scientific branch of the Commission, we have a duty to carry out this annual review.

Last year we developed, in collaboration with other stakeholders, a methodological framework for the systematic revision of PEMS measurement uncertainties assessing the contribution of the different PEMS components (flow meters, analyzers, zero drift, etc.). This data-driven procedure led to the proposal of 0.43 margin for NOx to be applied from 2020 and the review will continue this year to reduce the margin, if needed, based on the instruments that are available on the market.

Excess emissions regulation has a strong impact on market and technologies. What does the engine of the future look like?

This is a tricky question. It’s important to understand that different places in the world have different regulations and hence, different development paths may cohabitate. So, I don’t think there is going to be a unique pathway towards the future. In the EU, emissions regulations and CO2 targets are already playing an important role in the progressive electrification of the fleet, but both gasoline and diesel powertrains will still play a role in the future, especially for certain applications like heavy duty trucks.

  • Victor Valverde-Morales was a speaker Automotive IQ’s 2018 Real Driving Emissions conference, which took place in Berlin, Germany. For information on all of our forthcoming conferences, check out the Events page.

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