Method Comparisons of Vehicle Emissions Measurements in the Fort McHenry and Tuscarora Mountain Tunnels

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Chemistry and Biochemistry


Experiments were conducted in the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, MD, and in the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel in Pennsylvania, during the summer of 1992 to evaluate real-world automotive emissions. Included in these experiments were the first reported measurements of individual vehicle exhaust in tunnels by a remote sensing device (RSD). Results are compared to integrated emission measurements carried out by analysis of concurrent collections of tunnel air into bags, canisters, and adsorbent traps and by conventional Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The vehicles using these highway tunnels proved to be lower emitting than vehicles usually measured by remote sensing in urban areas.

At Fort McHenry the RSD-measured CO/CO2 ratios were, on average, high compared to either the bag or FTIR measurements (by a factor of 1.4 ± 0.2) for the four runs monitored. RSD hydrocarbon data were obtained only at the uphill location ( + 3.76% grade). RSD HC/CO2 ratios were lower on average, but statistically indistinguishable when compared with either the FTIR or the integrated uphill measurements.

At Tuscarora, the RSD-measured CO/CO2 ratios were in agreement with the CO/CO2 ratios in the tunnel bag measurements and FTIR measurements (within a factor of 1.00 ± 0.16 by one method and 0.82 ± 0.32 by a second, when traffic was dominated by light-duty spark-ignition vehicles). The RSD HC/CO2 ratios were, however, higher than the light-duty vehicle estimates from the integrated (bag/canister/Tenax) tunnel measurements by a factor of 3, and higher than the FTIR (Delta)HC/(Delta)CO2 ratios by an even higher factor, mostly owing to water vapor interferences in the low average RSD measurements. For the first time RSD measurements were collected from a small sample of heavy-duty diesels; comparisons to the heavy-duty emissions contributions for CO and HC were favorable.

Analysis of emissions data for vehicle variability at Fort McHenry revealed that low CO emitting vehicles tended to be consistently low but that the minority that were high emitters ( > 2.5% CO) were more likely to be high only at the uphill location. Vehicle mileage information was collected at a toll booth in the case of Fort McHenry and at a service plaza in the case of Tuscarora for comparison against the RSD emissions measurements. This comparison showed little conventional deterioration of CO or HC emissions with mileage. The trend consisted of an increased frequency of high emitters with mileage, rather than an increase in emissions from all vehicles with increasing mileage.

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