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Brussels, 13 March 2009

Greening buses and trucks! Commission's research centre opens new CO2 emissions testing laboratory.

Today European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, opens a new facility for testing fuel consumption and emissions of trucks and buses. The new installation, "VELA 7" at the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra (Northern Italy), realistically simulates wind drag, tyre/road friction and full drive cycles for real-life articulated lorries of up to 40 tonnes or 12m long buses. It comes at a crucial time since implementation guidelines for new emission standards, notably the Euro VI regarding heavy duty vehicles, must be defined by 1st April 2010.

"The European Commission is fighting climate change with words and actions, thanks to "in-house" experts, on the political side as well as on the scientific side! The Commission's research centre provides us with the scientifically robust and independent data which underpin the standards in EU environmental regulations to fight air pollution and reduce the negative impact from road transport" said European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik. "Today, Europe's freight transport by trucks reaches 1888 billion tonne-kilometers every year; increasing trucks efficiency will significantly reduce fuel consumption. The Commission's new facility will make a great contribution to the Commission's priorities in these areas."

The new high-tech test facility, the seventh in a series of Vehicle Emission Laboratories (VELA), contains an impressive roller bench in a climatic chamber to test exhaust gases from heavy duty vehicles with top- notch measuring equipment. It will enable JRC researchers to tackle the challenges in implementing current, and developing future, emission standards for lorries and buses by using test cycles that are very close to real life conditions.

VELA-7 is one of the most advanced set-ups of its kind in the world and will provide independent, accurate and unbiased test results. With measurements going clearly far beyond those achievable on simple engine test stands, VELA 7 can test a whole range of alternative fuels and exhaust gas after-treatment systems in existing and future truck configurations. It can produce a broad picture – quantitatively and qualitatively – of the emissions of the whole range of heavy vehicles in the EU, which is the necessary step to then reducing those emissions effectively. Modern spectroscopy and other technologies allow detailed analysis of the most relevant gaseous components as well as the particulate matter in the exhaust.

The JRC has already played a key role in underpinning European legislation on air pollution from road transport. Just recently, it has supported the detailed implementation of the CO2 emission-limits for cars approved by the Council and the European Parliament in December 2008.

Green road transport is an important element of the Commission European Recovery Plan, which announced three public-private partnerships for research. One of these, the "green car" initiative in fact covers all kinds of vehicles, and indeed the wider context of the development infrastructure and technology for cleaner and more efficient land transport.

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