New Zealand
Are the Capital's cars belchers?
Apr 8, 2005 - 4:08:38 AM

Badly tuned vehicles cost motorists money and pollute the air. The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is measuring vehicle emissions in Wellington this week.

NIWA does this by using remote sensing technology as vehicles travel along the road. Drivers do not have to alter their speed or route at all. The advantages of this technology include the ability to record thousands of vehicles a day and to measure the emissions in real life driving situations. The equipment will be operated at two sites in the Ngauranga Gorge.

Vehicle exhaust emissions are detected using beams of light, and the driver is given instant feedback via a display screen which rates the emissions as poor, fair, or good. The equipment records the car registration number. This enables scientists to analyse any links between emissions quality and the characteristics of the vehicle fleet such as vehicle age, fuel type, and distance travelled. The information is used for research, not to identify individual owners or for law enforcement. Drivers will not be 'dobbed in'.

This research is part of a wider project funded by the Foundation of Research, Science & Technology looking at air quality. The project will provide useful information on air quality issues to help local councils implement and achieve national environmental standards introduced by the Ministry for the Environment last October. The national standards are aimed at improving air quality in New Zealand towns and cities.

The sites are: the Newlands off-ramp at the top of the gorge, and the route to State Highway 2 heading to Petone from the left-hand lane at the bottom of the gorge.

The work is weather-dependent. The plan is to operate at the Newlands off-ramp site on Tuesday and Thursday from approximately 1pm to 7pm, and to operate at the bottom of the gorge on Wednesday from approximately 5am to 7pm.

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