The prototype of new type of device, akin to a pollution radar device for highway traffic, has been developed at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), and can deliver real-time data on pollution emissions from individual vehicles, even on a multi-lane road.
The new traffic camera can be used to not just point out the vehicles responsible for most of the emissions, but also to analyze the impacts of traffic on the environment, to optimize road planning, and help in the creation of policies that could decrease traffic emissions.
"Approximately five percent of vehicles are responsible for more than 90% of toxic emissions. With this system, it can be determined which vehicles are “big emitters” (pollute more) and policies that facilitate their identification can be created. And with this, point out the scientists, traffic emissions (CO2, CO, NOx, HC, PM) would be reduced and energy efficiency would increase, given that a decrease of emissions always implies less consumption. In addition, measures for optimizing consumption and emissions could be adopted, like varying speed limits on high capacity roads that enter and exit big cities." - UC3M
The new device, which recently completed a successful demonstration trial near Madrid, is said to be the only one on the market that can accurately measure the emissions from individual vehicles, even on busy roadways. The prototype is based on an infrared multispectral image camera, and uses interferential filters to identify the distinct infrared signatures of toxic gases to determine their presence in the air.
"These filters are located in a wheel that turns at a high speed in front of the detector and they provide consecutive images of the same scene on different bands, which allows for remote detection of some unburned gases (CO2, CO and HCs)." - Fernando López, head of the UC3M’s Infrared Lab
Not only could the data from the cameras be used to remove specific vehicles with high emissions, the cameras could be used to monitor roadways and reduce the speed limits on high pollution days, or to provide hard numbers to environmental campaigns, or to inform infrastructure planning and development.