GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - One of the world's most advanced emission laboratories is Volvo Cars' important tool in the quest for lower fuel consumption and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

The upgraded emissions laboratory was used when developing all DRIVe models - updated engine mapping and rolling resistance were tested and confirmed.

The emission laboratory is used for development testing in all stages of the vehicle development process, when for instance the engine parameters have been optimised for reducing emissions. The result is verified by performing a test in the emission laboratory, and this process is repeated until optimal results are obtained.

"Many parameters in the vehicle have great impact on CO2 emissions and this requires close attention to many of the systems which we normally do not connect to classic emission testing.

Take brakes for example: Brake drag will have large impact on the variability of the test results. Therefore, we are working closely with the development engineers from many different areas of technology to standardize and optimize all parts in the testing chain", says Alexander Petrofski, responsible for the technical aspects of the laboratory.

Accuracy in all Parts of the Testing

Using basic data on aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance and parasitic losses on a certain model, the new vehicle data can be tested on another car, but calculated and interpreted for the intended model. With fine-tuned working methods like this, the operation is very efficient and the laboratory can deliver test results in the shortest time possible.

The emissions laboratory has very strict standards to ensure exact measurements - for instance, a test on a car can only be re-run once the temperature of the car has reached the testing temperature of the previous test. Naturally, the temperature in the garage where the cars are stored is also carefully regulated, and kept at 25º Centigrade.

"The amount of effort we put into maintaining quality standards in all aspects of the testing is tremendous. For instance when it comes to calibrations which are performed at pre-defined intervals and supervised by our senior engineers", explains Alexander Petrofski

Exact Measurements in Diesel Emission Test Facilities

The diesel emissions laboratory has an extremely accurate mass metrology laboratory for measuring particles. The room is built on a 150 ton concrete slab, and the scales are on a heavy marble table, to provide the stability needed. The particle emissions from a modern diesel engine are so low that the weight is comparable to what the fat from a finger print would weigh. This is why there are special requirements for this room - for instance, only one person works there, and he has to wear protective clothing not to affect the scales.

Volvo Cars emission engineers also participate in developing future particle measurement technology, needed for European emission regulation Euro 5b coming to force in 2011, which limits particle count, to complement the current requirement on particle weight or mass. Volvo Cars is working with suppliers to improve and develop the method and instrumentation for measuring particle number. One of the first systems is already being tested in the diesel laboratory.

Cutting-Edge Facility

Volvo Cars' Emissions Laboratory was a cutting-edge facility when it was built in the early 70's - and over 35 years later, after ½ billion SEK investment during the past 6 years, it is still setting the benchmark in the car industry for its precise measurements of emissions.

"Reducing fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for our entire model range is naturally a high priority. The improvements needed for getting there encompass both optimisation of drivelines and components on the car itself, for instance regarding engine mapping and rolling resistance. Our upgraded emissions laboratory will be a major tool in this quest," says Magnus Jonsson, Volvo Cars Senior Vice President, Research & Development.