Research lab opens test facility for buses and trucks

A new facility for testing fuel consumption and emissions of trucks and buses has opened at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra (Northern Italy).

The new installation, 'VELA 7', realistically simulates wind drag, tyre/road friction and full drive cycles for real-life articulated lorries of up to 40 tonnes or 12-metre-long buses. Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik, who performed the opening ceremony, said: "Today, Europe's freight transport by trucks reaches 1888 billion tonne-kilometres 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 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 emissions standards, and developing future 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. It 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.

Implementation guidelines for new emission standards, notably the Euro VI regarding heavy duty vehicles, must be defined by 1st April 2010.

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