EURO 6 EMISSION STANDARD: What is this about?

In 2017 the focus is on standards and rules relating to the environment and pollution. And, unsurprisingly, much of the discussions have centred on road vehicles.

The result has been the creation of a new standard, Euro 6c, which came into force on 1 September 2017. This standard applies mostly to the automobile industry and requires manufacturers to make considerable changes to their products.

What is “Euro 6”?

The European standard Euro 6 is an environmental standard that came into force in September 2015. Its purpose is to limit the emission of certain polluting gases produced by road vehicles. In other words, it forces manufacturers to build cleaner cars and lorries. Manufacturers are being required to comply with ever-diminishing emission levels of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx).

Initially applied to heavy-duty vehicles, since 1991 the European standards apply to light vehicles too. In the intervening years nitrogen oxide emissions have been considerably reduced and the trend continues.

These light-vehicle standards are numbered from 1 to 6. The higher the number, the more recent the standard. Euro 6 is the most recent standard and applies to all vehicles registered on and after 1 September 2015. This means that all new vehicles marketed in an EU state after this date must comply with the standard Euro 6.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), when combined with AdBlue®, is the most effective solution for eliminating nitrogen oxide emissions. It is the most popular solution among manufacturers and European bodies. Since its launch in October 2006 on heavy-duty vehicles, AdBlue® (created by GreenChem) has revolutionised how we deal with nitrogen oxide emissions. The vast majority of lorries built since 2006 and all those built since October 2012 use SCR technology, which features AdBlue®.

How are the tests carried out?

Since the arrival of the Euro standard, tests have been carried out according to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) which was developed in 1973.

The NEDC is a series of tests based on accelerating and decelerating engines in test-bench conditions. Polluting emissions are measured at every stage, and this allows for an average emission level to be determined.

However, today, the results produced by this technique are considered to be too far removed from what vehicles on the road actually produce. In light of this, the NEDC was replaced at the start of September 2017 with an internationally recognised test procedure for light passenger and commercial vehicles called the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).
This new cycle of tests takes into account higher speeds, more dynamic and authentic acceleration/deceleration, and stricter vehicle measuring conditions than was the case for the NEDC. The WLTP is, therefore, more accurate than the current lab test and better reflects real-world conditions.

Nevertheless, despite this greater accuracy a variation may be observed between a real-world situation and a situation affected by a certain number of factors, such as where the vehicle is used and driving styles.

This means that a new test procedure to measure Real Driving Emissions (RDE) will be introduced to complement the lab tests. The procedure is designed to show that vehicles produce low emissions not only in the lab but also on the road. RDE measurements will be added to existing test requirements. Europe will be the first region in the world to implement such road tests. Hopefully this dual approach to certification will reassure drivers that the low emissions claimed by the manufacturer are delivered in the real world.

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Pollutants tested

All substances contained in emissions, from nitrogen oxide (NOx) particles to CO2, are measured. The thresholds applied to pollutants during tests have changed regularly over time and with the introduction of new standards.

Since the introduction of Euro 1, nitrogen oxide has undergone the greatest reduction in its permitted level. The standards Euro 1 and 2 did not take it into account. Then its acceptable threshold went from 500 mg/km (Euro 3 in 2001) to 80 mg/km (Euro 6 in 2015).

As for particulate matter (PM) emitted by diesel engines, Euro 1 limited it to 140 mg/km whereas Euro 6 applied a threshold of 4.5 mg/km. The standards Euro 1 to 4 imposed no emission limits on petrol vehicles when it came to particulate matter. This was introduced in Euro 5, the standard launched in 2009. Now all types of combustion engine are covered. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to highlight the fact that manufacturers, in their diligent compliance with standards, have succeeded in building ever cleaner vehicles.

AdBlue®, an agent for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions

AdBlue® is the most commonly used solution among manufacturers for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles and complies with the standard Euro 6. AdBlue® turns most of the nitrogen oxide into water vapour and diazo compounds, both of which are harmless to humans.

Selective Catalytic Reduction works by adding a nitrogen oxide reducing agent into exhaust gases. In other words, AdBlue®.

AdBlue® makes modern vehicles even less polluting. Diesel vehicles that use AdBlue® comply with the new European standards.

And last but not least, using AdBlue® on diesel vehicles reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 95%.

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