EPA taps Southwest Research Institute for emissions, fuel study

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been awarded a five-year, $20.16 million contract by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide testing and analytical services related to vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, according to an institute release.

Key areas of support include emissions characterization and technology assessment. SwRI can develop test procedures and equipment for regulated and unregulated emissions in light- and heavy-duty vehicles and components as well as marine, railway, aircraft, small engine, and other non-highway propulsion systems.

“The scope of this contract is quite broad,” said Patrick Merritt, principal scientist in the Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division. “It encompasses 25 areas, from fuels and lubricants to engine and emissions characterizations, as well as economic studies, general rule-making support, and coordinating peer review meetings.”

SwRI can evaluate all types of fuels and additives, including conventional and reformulated gasoline and diesel fuels; alternative fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), hydrogen and blends of hydrocarbon fuels; and electricity (supplied from batteries or fuel cells) for electric, partial electric, and non-electric hybrid vehicles.

The contract also calls for evaluating vehicles to ensure compliance with current emissions and other regulatory requirements and safety testing power trains, batteries, and emission control systems. Technical services include evaluating prototype vehicle propulsion systems and related control, data acquisition, and sampling systems.

The contract is being managed through the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) Assessment and Standards Division (ASD) uses SwRI’s expertise in its Office of Automotive Engineering — the Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division and the Fuels and Lubricants Research Division.

Since its inception in 1947, SwRI has been engaged in the automotive industry and has performed contract work for federal environmental endeavors even before the EPA came into existence in 1970.

“We believe one of the key reasons the Institute received the award is our ability to respond quickly on short notice,” Merritt said. “Our long history and extensive expertise in all of these areas means we can provide the support requested in a very timely manner. The contract touches nearly all areas of the Institute’s Office of Automotive Engineering. Our diverse expertise enables us to perform these science, engineering, and support functions here rather than assembling a team from different laboratories.”