A trial is starting in Bristol this month to use connected vehicles to monitor air pollution in real time.

Bristol Waste, which operates the refuse and recycling service in Bristol, is working with US connected car company Tantalum and data researchers from Imperial College London on “Air.Car” which provides highly accurate, real-time feedback on the levels of nitrous oxide (NOx), a key pollutant.

“Understanding the environmental impact of our operation is a key part of our commitment to contributing to a cleaner and greener Bristol”

 

According to research by US scientists, excess emissions of NOx exhaust gases can be linked to 38,000 premature deaths worldwide and it is a key measure for meeting UK and European pollution limits.

“We run a large fleet of vehicles across the city of Bristol and understanding the environmental impact of our operation is a key part of our sustainability plan and our commitment to contributing to a cleaner and greener Bristol,” says Tracey Morgan (pictured centre right), Bristol Waste Company’s Managing Director.

“The data from this trial, which will include at least 40 of our heavy vehicles, will enable us to make more informed decisions around which of them we use, at what times and on which routes to help us manage that impact.”

A UK-wide trial

This is part of a 1,000-vehicle trial that also includes the University of Oxford, where units are being installed in diesel vehicles to estimate real-time NOx emissions in major cities across the UK.

Adam Bows, University of Oxford’s Sustainable Transport Manager adds: “By understanding emissions from a range of vehicles in our fleet, this project will help the University’s Transport Strategy objectives to improve local air quality and reduce the University’s carbon footprint.”

“There’s a real buzz around how we can use data cleverly to improve people’s lives”

 

The £2m project started last July and taps into the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port on the vehicle to access the engine control unit to gather data, and the data will be used to develop a tool from Tantalum to provide a detailed understanding of the environmental impact of vehicles and the tools to minimise it.

Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO of Tantalum tells us: “There’s a real buzz around how we can use data cleverly to improve people’s lives. It will be transformative for managing and reducing the silent killer, NOx, in the world’s towns and cities.”

Details of the project grant are available on the UK government website. You can also find out more about how the project is impacting on the city of Bristol by checking out the Bristol Waste website or by following them on Twitter here: @BristolWaste.

Nick Flaherty