Scotland piloting HEAT’s NASA-based technology to test vehicle emissions


Following recent news that the UK has been issued with an official warning by the European Union (EU) regarding rising air pollution levels, the Scottish government has kicked off a pilot with the Vehicle Emissions Partnership using the latest cutting-edge remote sensing technology.

The Scottish government is funding the air quality testing program at two sites in West Lothian (March 20-31) and North Lanarkshire (April 1-13), which will see a pilot deployment of the EDAR (Emissions Detecting and Reporting) system developed by the Utah, USA-based Hager Environmental & Atmospheric Technologies LLC (HEAT). The EDAR technology is a laser-based system that uses the same techniques that were developed for NASA’s active satellite remote sensing platforms, and is the only emission camera currently available worldwide that can read remotely in real time gases such as CO, CO?, NO, NO?, PM2.5, CH4, ammonia, and Total hydrocarbons (HC).

HEAT was founded in 2009 by Dr J Stewart Hager to develop an advanced and unique technology aimed at revolutionizing the vehicle emission testing industry, using the knowledge he gained from working on NASA’s ASCENDS (Active Sensing of CO? over Nights, Days, and Seasons) satellite mission. Lessons learned from the research and development of such space-based platforms have been applied at a distance of 20ft (6m) as opposed to 430 miles (690,000m – sun-synchronous orbit). HEAT introduced EDAR to the European market in the UK in February 2016, when the company was hired by the Department for Transport (DfT) to run a pilot in London and Birmingham for three weeks. The trials were extremely successful, which lead HEAT to the current pilot in Scotland.

The EDAR unit is mounted on a pole 20ft feet (6m) above the roadway and reads 24/7 without any human intervention. The EDAR technology is an eye safe laser-based system capable of remotely detecting and measuring the infrared absorption of environmentally critical gases coming out of a moving vehicle. EDAR contains a multi-patented system of hardware and software, which allows for a multi spectral 3D image of the entire exhaust plume of a moving vehicle. It also provides an increased sensitivity, in some cases of over 2,000%, and resolutions of a million times greater than existing technologies.

The system not only identifies critical gases, but will also identify the license plate, the speed and acceleration, absolute amounts of what the car has left behind (g/km), images tailpipe plumes, and identifies the temperature of the car exhaust, all in real time. The exhaust temperature is very important, because when high emitting vehicles are identified, it is vital to know if the catalyst is warmed up or not.

“We believe that the only way Low Emission Zones can be valid, fair and efficient is to identify emissions from vehicles under real-world driving conditions, and then take some type of corrective actions to lower them,” explained HEAT’s president, Yolla Hager. “An accurate and unobtrusive remote sensing system, like EDAR, is the most cost effective way to do this. You cannot solve a problem until you know what is causing it.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).