Automotive Exhaust Measurements in Varied Locations
Date: May 2, 2011
For a research experiment, I am comparing the quality of air along busy roads to the air in areas far from heavy traffic. Would it be possible for me to test for carbon monoxide or NOx compounds? Or would the concentrations be too low to detect. If this is a good idea, is the equipment used to test for CO and NOx compounds available to a high school junior like me?
It is not likely possible, or at least practical, for you to do your own
roadside testing for levels of CO and NOx. Remember, these
pollutants are present in minute quantities, and this requires
sophisticated and expensive analysis equipment to resolve levels of
these pollutants in the Parts-per-Million range. This type of equipment
is generally found only in test labs specializing in this sort of testing.
Something that you may find interesting in this field, is that I once
worked at a large German company that designs and manufacturers
catalytic converters for cars. They, of course, did have this type of
equipment. Surprisingly, they found that on a smoggy day, the levels
of the pollutants you are interested in, were lower when measuring the
pollutants coming out of the exhaust of a new car equipped with a
catalytic converter that cleans the exhaust, than there was in the
surrounding (smoggy) air. This should illustrate just how clean the
exhaust is on new vehicles!
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Update: June 2012