Fund could get particulate-mapping device on the road

An engineer in the US has received a grant to develop a device that maps concentrations of particulate matter on the highways of Southern California in real time.

Heejung Jung, a University of California, Riverside assistant professor of engineering, received $41,000 (£25,000) from the UC Transportation Center to develop the portable device, which will be fitted on test vehicles.

Currently, the assessment of public exposure to particulate emissions is based on data from fixed monitoring sites or temporarily and spatially averaged emission data.

This creates a problem because the sites are too sparsely located to accurately measure particulate variations on highways for the former case, and spatial and temporal changes are not considered for the latter case, said Jung, a faculty member in the Bourns College of Engineering.

According to a statement, Jung’s research will attempt to quantify the highest potential exposure to particulate matter during the daily commute, enabling a better assessment of the public’s exposure to particulate emissions on highways focusing on probing temporal and spatial variations of particulate matter on highways.

Following the principles of fluid dynamics and particle formation, local conditions along highways can create hot spots of particulate concentration, Jung said. This phenomenon is impacted by particle nucleation, traffic variables and weather conditions.

Researchers at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT), where Jung has an appointment, are claimed to be among the most experienced in particle measurement and characterisation.

The researchers will install mobile particle-measuring systems and use telematics developed at the centre for simultaneous measurement of particle concentrations, engine parameters and GPS data. The team will also make use of the Comprehensive Modal Emissions Model developed at CERT for comparison.

In addition to enhancing the performance of such models, precise understanding of the mechanisms of particle-matter exposure could affect future designs of highways, vehicles and air-handling systems, and form the basis of how to space out particulate monitoring along freeways, Jung said.