Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“No one’s dying because of this." Guess again.

Some more on VW:

1. The headlined, poorly-thought-out quote above may be correct as to human drivers but maybe not as to human air-breathers. Nitrogen oxides cause asthmatic attacks; 3,600 people in the US die annually from those attacks, and far more are hospitalized and otherwise suffer. The 500,000 VW diesel vehicles continue to emit as much NOx as 5 million to 20 million compliant vehicles. And then there's the other 10.5 million other diesels that VW admits are problematic - we don't know yet the scope of the emission problems from them. At this scale of emissions over the last 6 years and continuing, it seems certain that people were injured and quite possible that people were killed by VW's fraud.

In an interesting bit of timing, a food company executive was just sentenced to 28 years in prison for fraudulently releasing salmonella-contaminated peanut butter that ended up killing a number of people. Other top officials also received significant jail time. I'd been thinking about VW in terms of limited criminal penalties under the Clean Air Act, but Mr. Peanut here got hit under good ol' fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges.

There's a difference in that it's easy to identify who was harmed by salmonella (some of them, anyway). That people were harmed by VW is certain though, as is the case for Exxon if fraud is eventually proven against it.

2. I can't get over what, if anything, was going on in the collective VW mind after it was contacted in May 2014 by the regulatory agencies asking for an explanation, and why it kept selling fraudulent diesels. Especially, I have trouble imagining their in-house attorneys saying "so I understand we've been intentionally violating a law that carries criminal penalties and you'd like to continue violating it indefinitely, even though the State of California, the EPA, a technologically-sophisticated nonprofit and a university research center all likely suspect what we've done and are one step away from proving it themselves, while we've been lying to them by omission? Sure, go right ahead!" I'd guess their attorneys were only brought in late or had information concealed from them. That doesn't get the rest of the involved staff and the chain of command off the hook, of course.

We haven't heard much about the failed software fix that VW attempted while concealing the real problem. My wild guess is that they tried to defeat the defeat-device software, to conceal what they'd done without anyone the wiser, but it didn't work.

Regardless, I expect these last 18 months to be especially problematic for VW and involve even more people with liability than whoever was originally involved.

3. What I truly don't understand is why no one else suspected this earlier. The European VW diesels performed as well as the American VW diesels, urea injection was not used, but the American diesels had lower emissions. Couldn't a competitor, at least, put it all together? This makes me wonder if there's an 'ethic' against ratting each other out, and wonder what else is out there, at VW or at someone else.

35 comments:

Scellus said...

Regarding #2, the internal processes within VW, I think issues described in this paper are relevant: http://asq.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/09/16/0001839215606951?papetoc

"For example, people are likely to experience fear when their primary appraisal suggests potential harm to their well-being and their secondary appraisal suggests that the outcome of the situation is uncertain or beyond their control."

The paper is really worth a read for anyone interested in the dysfunctions of corporate organisations. Skip the theory at the beginning if it feels too heavy.

metzomagic said...

Brian said:

We haven't heard much about the failed software fix that VW attempted while concealing the real problem. My wild guess is that they tried to defeat the defeat-device software, to conceal what they'd done without anyone the wiser, but it didn't work.

If they had done the hack modularly, they would have been able to get rid of it by commenting out a single line of code. But my WAG is that either the structure of the code wasn't amenable to doing that (perhaps because it was optimised for an embedded controller application), or that it was spaghetti code developed over many years, and there were hooks all over the place checking and adjusting for the test situation that were impossible to get rid of.

BTW, my comment below re. "This is gonna be the mother of all patches"... yeah, I realise that if they remove the offending code, then all the cars are going to fail the emissions test. But nothing should ruin a good joke. Call it artistic license :-)

Full disclosure: I'm a hardware/software engineer myself, and I've designed and programmed embedded controllers in my formative days. Back in the days when split flaps were used as info systems in airports, all the split flap signs in Schiphol Airport were running off my little network of controllers.

claimsguy said...

Point 3 is interesting. I've seen some commentators suggest that the practice of using defeat devices is more widespread than we know. If true, that might explain any industry reluctance to point fingers.

Brian said...

Scellus - interesting paper about Nokia as a case example, thanks. Low external fear by middle managers may have been the problem at VW too. They completely failed to anticipate 1. that they couldn't get away with the deception indefinitely, and 2. how the external agents would act in response to their own actions once those external agents had become suspicious.

Metzo - I read somewhere that the software fix did produce some spotty results, maybe that fits your theory about it dealing with spaghetti code.

Hank Roberts said...

One consideration is how _little_ NOx this particular trick causes.

Every air-breathing internal combustion engine is part of the problem.
Air has four times as much nitrogen as oxygen.

"Emissions of NOx from combustion are primarily in the form of NO.... generated to the limit of available oxygen (about 200,000 ppm) in air at temperatures above 1,300C (2,370F). At temperatures below 760C (1,400F), NO is either generated in much lower concentrations or not at all. Combustion NO is generated as a function of air to fuel ratio and is more pronounced when the mixture is on the fuel-lean side ..."
http://www3.epa.gov/ttncatc1/dir1/fnoxdoc.pdf

That's any internal-combustion engine -- but it's also any large fossil fuel power source. Anything hot enough makes air burn -- the nitrogen gets oxidized.

So I'd guess part of the reaction to this Volkswagen fakery has to be to consider how much NOx is being created by human activity _everywhere_.

Remember the early steam engines? Those were external combustion devices -- open flame under a boiler. It's possible to keep the temperature of open flame down below that at which nitrogen burns. The thermodynamic efficiency is less though.

Fortunately we keep other extremely hot things bottled up, mostly, not exposed to air unless they blow up or melt down. It's interesting that fission power hits a practical limit because the hotter it's run, the longer it takes to cool down. The newest coal plants burn hotter than fission plants. They're testing the anti-corrosion technology we'll need if we ever move closer to fusion sources (closer than the current 30-years-or-93-million-miles-away).

Note that the newest and best coal-burning power plants don't rely on air -- they use oxygen, or they do something outrageously different:
look up Stanford's paper on "Integration of Coal Energy Conversion with Aquifer-Based Carbon Sequestration -- Approach to Electric Power Generation with Zero Matter Release to the Atmosphere" for one such.

Hey, we gots lots of saline aquifers, right? What could go wrong?

So there are lots of additional ways to reduce oxidation of nitrogen.

Everett F Sargent said...

What did Greenpeace know and when did Greenpeace know it?

Esso? Check.
Convicted Food taint? Check.
Pollution from me and other me's is killing me and other me's? Check.
Tobacco companies? Oops, forgot that one.
Other automakers? TBD.

Seriously, absent all the cons piracy thinking, all automakers should be checked thoroughly.

Consider the known test sequences as a closed loop, cut that loop elsewhere's than the one known point (the original start point).

Or randomize the known test sequences (in a somewhat consistent 'drivable' fashion). Do these new tests in a lab setting located right next to a test track.

Or construct entirely new test sequences unknown to the automakers.

Test all vehicles with these new test sequences.

You still need a consistent set of tests for all vehicle classes which are unknown to the automakers. Otherwise anarchy and chaos ensues (You: "I drove from X1 to X2, hit the pedal to the floorboard until I reached 90 MPH, then I slammed on the brakes until I came to a full stop, I did this like 666 times, why don't I get the same answer as the EPA?" Me: "Well you should use those numbers as a relative metric and you should 'try' to drive as efficiently as possible and the testing should be as consistent as possible between vehicles to do an 'apples-to-apples' comparison.").
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy-efficient_driving
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/cars-light-trucks/fuel-efficient-driving-techniques/7507
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/cars-light-trucks/driving/7521
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/cars-light-trucks/driving/7523
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/cars-light-trucks/driving/7523
(Note: There are other 'tricks' like not using cruse control in hilly terrain (watch what your tach does on cresting a hill watch what the auto does going down that same hill (it ain't in freefall mode)) or freefall/break tapping (technically illegal) or highest gear possible or slight-to-moderate over inflation or "You can drive 55" because then you are the legally slowest vehicle on the road, if that road is multilane, you get to stay in the right lane and never have to accelerate or decelerate (old people sort of get this), someone drives up on your tail, your legal, an 18-wheeler drives up on your tail (on a single lane I coast off onto the paved shoulder), regardless your legal).

The goobermint does this work themselves, or much more likely contracts out this work to an outside independent lab.

Either way, it will cost the goobermint $$$ (Note to self: This is NOT a reason to deny that such testing should be done, it's simply the fact that whatever the goobermint does will cost $$$).

Magma said...

Excellent point regarding the lack of competitors' whistleblowing. One possible explanation is that Audi and BMW hesitated to purchase VW diesel autos to tear them down for fear of future patent-infringement claims, whether merited or not. [No idea if that's the case or not... my knowledge of the auto business is limited.] Or perhaps they did engage in non-destructive lab-based emissions testing and were fooled by the 'defeat device' software.

Russell Seitz said...

Regulators who demand the impossible risk getting the illegal:

VW's softwre skulduggery reflects all the bonuses its minions earned , and all the good ink the company got by cutting CO2 emissions with fuel efficient deisels.

One wonders how many parallel wheezes are built into Asian cars and trucks, many of which, like the VW products, emit NOx visible to the naked nose.

Brian said...

Russel - seems like the standards weren't impossible, just inconvenient to VW. They could've sacrificed performance or admitted a lower fuel efficiency but didn't want to. If they couldn't sell diesels under honest conditions, maybe that should've told them they need to retool towards hybrids and EVs.

As for other cheats happening, I was speculating about that myself in the OP. What I don't conclude though is that the possibility of cheating, by itself, is enough to mean the regulatory game isn't worth the candle.

If there is cheating elsewhere, now would be an excellent time for VW to point that out, and I hope they do.

Russell Seitz said...

As a matter of curiosity , how much NOx are you prepared to tolerate per tonne of CO2 not emitted?

As to sunshine laws, some Californians have mandated burying water reservoirs in black plastic floats to spare themselves the consequences of having 13 parts per trillion of photochemically produced perchlorate chew on the few ppb of bromide in their drinking water.

William Connolley said...

Your first link (headlined, poorly-thought-out quote) is garbled. You've href'd the text, I think.

News: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/23/volkswagen-chief-martin-winterkorn-quits-emissions-scandal

Brian said...

William - fixed. Thanks!

Hank Roberts said...

ps, anyone got numbers for how much nitrogen is oxidized in VW's diesels, as a portion of all the sources? I've read the opinion somewhere that it's quite small, but no numbers nor cites. I'd guess it's small -- the issue is local emission of ozone precursors in areas where a lot of people breathe, and that's where the exhaust standards make a difference.

The old "brown summer sky full of nitrogen oxides" so well known from the 1970s is scarcely seen any longer, any place I've been.

Gavin asked: "Gavin Schmidt ‏@ClimateOfGavin Sep 22
Emission inventory experts: Will the VW NOx cheat impact current estimates of emissions used in climate & air pollution models?"

Everett F Sargent said...

HR,

I was looking for the exact same things (technical data). But it may take awhile. :(

Sort of got sidetracked by Euro 6 and 'Real Driving Emissions' tests. So I'm changing my mind on real world testing and/or anything that gets us to more realistic SI/CI numbers (MPG and emissions).

Realistic real-world driving emissions tests: the last chance for diesel cars?
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2015%2007%20RDE%20position%20paper%20FINAL.pdf

Potential for reducing emissions from road traffic and improving air quality
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/documents/envi/dv/nec2_land_/nec2_land_en.pdf

European emission standards
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards

Here's one link though ...
Real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars
http://www.theicct.org/real-world-exhaust-emissions-modern-diesel-cars

"On average, real-world NOx emissions from the tested vehicles were about seven times higher than the limits set by the Euro 6 standard. If applied to the entire new vehicle fleet, this would correspond to an on-road level of about 560 mg/km of NOx (compared to the regulatory limit under Euro 6 of 80 mg/km). This is compelling evidence of a real-world NOx compliance issue for recent-technology diesel passenger cars, for both the EU and US test vehicles."

So 560 versus 80.

See also ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards#Cycle_beating

"An independent report in September 2015 warned that this extended to "every major car manufacturer",[22] with BMW, and Opel named alongside Volkswagen and its sister company Audi as "the worst culprits",[22] and that approximately 90% of diesel cars "breach emissions regulations".[22] The authors blamed the violations on a number of factors, including "unrealistic test conditions, a lack of transparency and a number of loopholes in testing protocols".[22]"

{22} is this ...

Volkswagen emissions scandal: Which other cars fail to meet pollution safety limits?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11881954/Volkswagen-emissions-scandal-Which-other-cars-fail-to-meet-pollution-safety-limits.html

Which leads to this ...

Don't Breathe Here: Tackling air pollution from vehicles
http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/dont-breathe-here-tackling-air-pollution-vehicles

Which leads to this infographic ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

Which does not appear to be contained in the actual report listed on that webpage ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

Where that infographic data came from is TBD. (Don't doubt it, just need a referenced report which isn't on that infographic)

This does need a lot of 'proper' bookkeeping (total NOx emissions by source, perhaps the EIA already has such data?) and I'm not sure that I'm up for that level of effort.

Russell Seitz said...

The scary thing is that this episode may signal a hiatus in milage improvement not even BMW can budge the limits of themodynamic efficiency-

the only way to make engines more efficient is hotter combustion to boost the delta T, and besides pricey engineering ceramic components , that means more NOx- which costs a lot to catalyze out of existence without wasing a lot of energy

Everett F Sargent said...

HR,

I was looking for the exact same things (technical data). But it may take awhile. :(

Sort of got sidetracked by Euro 6 and 'Real Driving Emissions' tests. So I'm changing my mind on real world testing and/or anything that gets us to more realistic SI/CI numbers (MPG and emissions).

Realistic real-world driving emissions tests: the last chance for diesel cars?
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2015%2007%20RDE%20position%20paper%20FINAL.pdf

Potential for reducing emissions from road traffic and improving air quality
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/documents/envi/dv/nec2_land_/nec2_land_en.pdf

European emission standards
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards

Here's one link though ...
Real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars
http://www.theicct.org/real-world-exhaust-emissions-modern-diesel-cars

"On average, real-world NOx emissions from the tested vehicles were about seven times higher than the limits set by the Euro 6 standard. If applied to the entire new vehicle fleet, this would correspond to an on-road level of about 560 mg/km of NOx (compared to the regulatory limit under Euro 6 of 80 mg/km). This is compelling evidence of a real-world NOx compliance issue for recent-technology diesel passenger cars, for both the EU and US test vehicles."

So 560 versus 80.

See also ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards#Cycle_beating

"An independent report in September 2015 warned that this extended to "every major car manufacturer",[22] with BMW, and Opel named alongside Volkswagen and its sister company Audi as "the worst culprits",[22] and that approximately 90% of diesel cars "breach emissions regulations".[22] The authors blamed the violations on a number of factors, including "unrealistic test conditions, a lack of transparency and a number of loopholes in testing protocols".[22]"

{22} is this ...

Volkswagen emissions scandal: Which other cars fail to meet pollution safety limits?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11881954/Volkswagen-emissions-scandal-Which-other-cars-fail-to-meet-pollution-safety-limits.html

Which leads to this ...

Don't Breathe Here: Tackling air pollution from vehicles
http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/dont-breathe-here-tackling-air-pollution-vehicles

Which leads to this infographic ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

Which does not appear to be contained in the actual report listed on that webpage ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

Where that infographic data came from is TBD. (Don't doubt it, just need a referenced report which isn't on that infographic)

This does need a lot of 'proper' bookkeeping (total NOx emissions by source, perhaps the EIA already has such data?) and I'm not sure that I'm up for that level of effort.

Also, NOx (NO and NO2) are not the same as N2O, what comes out the tailpipe in what form and how it reacts with the atmosphere after that fact, perhaps Eli knows?

Everett F Sargent said...

HR (Part 1),

I was looking for the exact same things (technical data). But it may take awhile. :(

Sort of got sidetracked by Euro 6 and 'Real Driving Emissions' tests. So I'm changing my mind on real world testing and/or anything that gets us to more realistic SI/CI numbers (MPG and emissions).

Realistic real-world driving emissions tests: the last chance for diesel cars?
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2015%2007%20RDE%20position%20paper%20FINAL.pdf

Potential for reducing emissions from road traffic and improving air quality
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/documents/envi/dv/nec2_land_/nec2_land_en.pdf

European emission standards
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards

Here's one link though ...
Real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars
http://www.theicct.org/real-world-exhaust-emissions-modern-diesel-cars

"On average, real-world NOx emissions from the tested vehicles were about seven times higher than the limits set by the Euro 6 standard. If applied to the entire new vehicle fleet, this would correspond to an on-road level of about 560 mg/km of NOx (compared to the regulatory limit under Euro 6 of 80 mg/km). This is compelling evidence of a real-world NOx compliance issue for recent-technology diesel passenger cars, for both the EU and US test vehicles."

So 560 versus 80.

To be continued ...

Everett F Sargent said...

HR (Part 2 (Too many URL's in one post and poof goes the post?),

See also ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards#Cycle_beating

"An independent report in September 2015 warned that this extended to "every major car manufacturer",[22] with BMW, and Opel named alongside Volkswagen and its sister company Audi as "the worst culprits",[22] and that approximately 90% of diesel cars "breach emissions regulations".[22] The authors blamed the violations on a number of factors, including "unrealistic test conditions, a lack of transparency and a number of loopholes in testing protocols".[22]"

{22} is this ...

Volkswagen emissions scandal: Which other cars fail to meet pollution safety limits?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11881954/Volkswagen-emissions-scandal-Which-other-cars-fail-to-meet-pollution-safety-limits.html

Which leads to this ...

Don't Breathe Here: Tackling air pollution from vehicles
http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/dont-breathe-here-tackling-air-pollution-vehicles

Which leads to this infographic ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

Which does not appear to be contained in the actual report listed on that webpage ...
http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/Dont_Breathe_Here_report_FINAL.pdf

Where that infographic data came from is TBD. (Don't doubt it, just need a referenced report which isn't on that infographic)

This does need a lot of 'proper' bookkeeping (total NOx emissions by source, perhaps the EIA already has such data?) and I'm not sure that I'm up for that level of effort.

Also, NOx (NO and NO2) is not the same as N2O, what comes out the tailpipe and how it reacts with the atmosphere, perhaps Eli knows (because I sure don't know).

Brian said...

Russell - on the balance between NOx and CO2, I don't know. I do know that I don't want VW to get to choose, esp. when they add performance into the balance.

I'd add that ten years ago that may have been a tough question but I think Norway's answered it now. Diesel's role as a bridge fuel should start winding up.

I guess biodiesel adds complications.

William Connolley said...

> on the balance between NOx and CO2, I don't know

That's a cop out. CO2 has a cost (mostly in the future), NOx has a cost (mostly now). Neitehr can be quantified exactly, but both can be roughly estimated. Call CO2 $50 a ton perhaps; or $100 if you prefer. What about NOx?

Barton Paul Levenson said...

$150 per tonne of CO2 emitted would be about right.

William Connolley said...

Use $200 if you like. But what about NOx?

Kevin O'Neill said...

According to this Clean Air for Europe study, the external damages per ton of NOx is between 4400 and 12,000 euros.

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/cafe/activities/pdf/cafe_cba_externalities.pdf

Everett F Sargent said...

Kevin, William and Brian,

Take this with the biggest grain of salt that you can find ...

NOx emissions are ~1e-3 of CO2 emissions, that's ballpark, that's orders of magnitude (i. e. it's closer to 1e-3 than 1e-2).

Emissions are in units of M/L (grams per kilometer), fuel economy is in units of L/L^3 (kilometers per litre), multiply those two (which you have to do) and you get M/L^3 (grams per litre), convert litres to mass via rho, you get a ratio for NOx. For CO2 the ratios are ~3.24X (gas), ~3.7X (diesel) and a somewhat wiggly 0.01 to 0.001 for NOx by my ciphering (desired target versus actual).

If you were to ask me, I'd much prefer emissions in M/L^3 (grams per litre), but that's just me being me.

NOx/CO2 = 0.001 (I won't do the math as the numbers you cite are for total NOx emissions if I'm not mistaken)

Here's an interesting link ...
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions
http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/eea-32-nitrogen-oxides-nox-emissions-1/assessment.2010-08-19.0140149032-3

The table at that site suggests 40.4% of NOx comes from road transport (some fraction of that fraction would be diesel automobiles like the Audi the VW the BMW ...). Most of the other major fractions appear to be energy related and thus CO2 related so perhaps the NOx/CO2 =0.001 ratio is a good 1st approximation, so 4.4 to 12 euros per tonne versus whatever numbers one wishes to use for CO2 per tonne?

William Connolley said...

OK, so if CO2:NOx is 1000:1 in emissions, and 100:10000 in damage, then a car emitting 1000 units of CO2 does 100*1000 units of CO2 damage, and 1*10000 units of NOx damage; i.e. 10 times as much CO2 damage.

Which means that, marginally, we should prefer to trade increased NOx emissions for lower CO2 emissions? Actually that's not right; a diesel emits X% of the CO2 that petrol (gas to you funny folk) and Y times as much NOx...

EliRabett said...

Nox emissions are a result of combustion.

EliRabett said...

Oh yeah before you bunnies continue comparing apples with carrots read this and follow the links

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/12/ozone-photochemistry-part-2.html

the key is how many time the NO2 cycles around before raining out as nitric acid.

Everett F Sargent said...

William,

It looks like my SWAG for NOx may significantly low (perhaps by an order of magnitude!!!).

Two presentations found at the EPA website ...

Long-Term Trends in Mobile Source Emissions and Urban Air Quality
http://www3.epa.gov/ttn/chief/conference/ei21/session7/mcdonald_pres.pdf

The figure titled 'Trends in Running Exhaust NOx Emission Factors' suggest (circa 2010) 28 ppt (diesel) and 4 ppt (petrol).

See also (same figure different presentation) ...
EVALUATION OF MOBILE SOURCE EMISSIONS AND TRENDS USING DETAILED CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/events/calendar/2014/mar04/harley.pdf

The underlying publication (McDonald et al. (JGR 2012)) is (paywalled) here ...
Long-term trends in nitrogen oxide emissions from motor vehicles at national, state, and air basin scales
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012JD018304/abstract

I've emailed Dr. Harley to request a copy to better understand their methodology (don't doubt it but my SWAG appears/was s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o far off)

Also the EPA has a very recent 2nd draft titled ...
Integrated Science Assessment for Oxides of Nitrogen – Health Criteria
http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P100LTRO.PDF?Dockey=P100LTRO.PDF

The main page at EPA for this draft report is ...
Integrated Science Assessment for Oxides of Nitrogen – Health Criteria (Second External Review Draft, 2015)
http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/isa/recordisplay.cfm?deid=288043

I must admit that there is still much confusion at my end in regards to N2O and NOx (NO and NO2), much of that is due to my lack of proper training in chemistry (one course with a C in basic chemistry at uni), but I also think the EPA website could do a better job (things appear to be somewhat scattered).

Everett F Sargent said...

Eli (with all due respect to your profession),

"perhaps Eli knows (because I sure don't know)."

That was sort of a plea for HELP from a SME in chemistry or some such.

Note also that I just saw your two posts AFTER my most recent post.

Note also that Dr. Harley is ...
http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/~harley/

"Carl W. Johnson Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering"

Note also that that Hollister Hall (the CEE building at Cornell) is right across the street from (the main Chemical Engineering building) Olin Hall.
https://www.engineering.cornell.edu/admissions/undergraduate/upload/ENG-Self-Guided-Tour_New.pdf
(which has nothing to do with anything except that ENGINEERS also do chemistry, not me mind you, as I sort of SUCK at chemistry)

Do I want a general lecture in chemistry or do I want a boots-on-the-ground specific lecture from SME's in research ENGINEERING with actual boots-on-the-ground numbers even? You tell me, OK.

In other words, can you talk-the-talk at an ENGINEERING level (because this IS mostly about ENGINEERING) instead of your usual walk-the-walk? It does get sort of old after awhile.

EliRabett said...


1. NO and NO2 rapidly cycle around (see link), the result is to produce O atoms which forms ozone. The question is how many cycles does an individual NO(2) molecule go through, with each cycle (not quite) forming a molecule of ozone. The sum of NO and NO2 is usually referred to as Nox

2. Termination of the cycle is the formation of nitric acid (see link)

3. N2O is pretty stable, and its major role is as a greenhouse gas molecule

Brian said...

< That's a cop out.

Yes it is. I'd think that was obvious.

We can noodle around here trying to get a good mathematical tradeoff between NOx and CO2, and other people are much better at that than me, but it's something that you'd want to do at a very rigorous level for figuring out actual policy.

My intuitive SWAG is that on this one issue ten years ago, America got it right and Europe got it wrong, that Europe should've set stricter NOx standards even at the price of higher global CO2 levels. On most other climate change issues I'd say Europe did a better job than America.

I'll add that if Europe had gone down the American path on NOx, I'd expect there would be increased political willpower to make up for some, not all, of the increased CO2 emissions. And also that EVs would be in better shape in Europe than they are now.

And again, unlike 10 years ago the tradeoff probably isn't necessary at this point. We should electrify transport using low-emission electricity.

BBD said...

For Eli, the latest on unexpected diesel emissions (BBC). A new wrinkle, it seems.

Hank Roberts said...

Hat tip to Gavin: retweeted
Tracey Holloway ‏@tracey_holloway Sep 25
Interesting estimate of #health impacts of the #vwemissions scandal. Rough but reasonable back-of-envelope approach


http://www.vox.com/2015/9/23/9383641/volkswagen-scandal-pollution

Hank Roberts said...

> unexpected diesel emissions

Reminds me of one of my favorite unwritten science fiction plots: developing planet begins industrialization, raises background level of large and increasing number of persistent organic chemicals and metals and other odd bits and parts. Seed the planet with a few self-replicating devices that thrive on such trace materials, maybe even disguising them as filtering nanowhats that will "clean" the environment. Instead, of course, they out-compete the native biosphere, being better adapted to a high level of crap. Odd things start to pop up everywhere, grow, and slouch toward Bethlehem ....

Everett F Sargent said...

Hank,

There a lot wrong with that estimate as per the EPA table ...

Light-Duty Vehicle, Light-Duty Truck, and Medium-Duty Passenger Vehicle -- Tier 2 Exhaust Emission Standards
http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/standards/light-duty/index.htm
http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/standards/light-duty/tier2stds.htm

The current Tier 2 standard as of 2010 requires 0.07-0.2 g/mile (Bins 5-8, I'm currently trying to determine what those bins represent (perhaps a way of calculating the fleet average, TBD, but see also the 'Implementation Schedule' below the 1st table)) the ...
http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/WVU_LDDV_in-use_ICCT_Report_Final_may2014.pdf

... used 0.043 g/km (e. g. 0.07 g/mile).

You can also look at the Tier 0 and Tier 1 standards/model years/phase out periods, those are, not too surprisingly, all higher numbers for NOx (e. g. replace a 10 year old diesel with a current VW diesel, it's current numbers are very likely lower than the old diesel it replaces).

Also factor in that CA-WA != typical terrain nationwide (e. g. mountainous terrain != flatlander Kansas).

I'm not even going to try to even WAG that overly simplistic Vox number, except to say it does require a detailed calculation, and that IMHO their number appears to be high. (IMHO '74 and 404 premature deaths each year' worldwide is still a very small number).

All we can say with certainty is that total NOx emissions have come DOWN over time in the USA (see references in one of my previous posts (I now have a copy of the Harley12 paper so the numbers for diesel are slightly misleading (offset high) as those are for heavy duty trucks only (taken at weigh stations or heavy duty truck only tunnels)).

VW is still DAA (dead after arrival).