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Clean Techn Environ Policy (2016) 18:27172724

DOI 10.1007/s10098-016-1176-1


Potential of diesel emissions reduction strategies in Xian, China

Zhaowen Qiu1 Xiaoxia Li1 Yanzhao Hao1 Shunxi Deng2

Received: 2 January 2016 / Accepted: 1 April 2016 / Published online: 11 April 2016
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Abstract Diesel vehicles contributed 70 % of the NOx not only for Xian but also for other cities that are con-
and more than 90 % of the PM in the 2014 on-road sidering adopting possible strategies to mitigate air pollu-
emissions inventory in China. Attention is therefore being tion from vehicles.
focused on diesel vehicles because of their significantly
higher NOx and PM emission rates and vehicle miles Keywords Diesel emissions  Reduction strategies 
traveled, relative to gasoline-powered cars. Xian city has Potential weight  PM  NOx
taken many measures to reduce diesel exhaust emissions.
In this present study, the main objectives were to identify
potential of emission-reduction strategiesfuel-standard Introduction
improvements, elimination of yellow-brand vehicles,
increased use of alternative fuels (CNG, LNG), and Diesels are the most effective surface transportation vehi-
installation of DPFs in older vehiclesand to quantify the cles in the world: strong, economical, and robust (Squaiella
relative effectiveness of each of these potential strategies. et al. 2013). Yet vehicles are often cited as the most
A revised MOVES model was used to estimate PM and important source of urban atmospheric pollutants in source
NOx emission inventories for selected scenarios at the apportionment studies (Franco et al. 2013), and diesel
county scale, for Xian city. The results show that, for NOx engines churn out a hazardous mix of gaseous and particle
reduction, the best strategy would be fuel-standard pollutants, ranging from respiratory irritants to carcinogens
improvements (Scenario 1), followed by (in order of and including a host of atmospheric toxins, particulate
effectiveness) the increased use of alternative fuels (Sce- matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxides
nario 3), elimination of yellow-brand diesel vehicles (NOx). In fact, the International Agency for Research on
(Scenario 2), and retrofitting older vehicles by installing Cancer recently classified diesel engine exhaust as a Group
DPFs (Scenario 4), whereas for PM10 or PM2.5, the I carcinogen because of its correlation with lung cancer
effectiveness sequence of control strategies was found to (Attfield et al. 2012; Silverman et al. 2012; Lau et al.
be Scenario 1, Scenario 3, Scenario 2, and Scenario 4. It 2015). Diesel vehicles contributed 70 % of the NOx and
was also found that medium-weight and heavy trucks have more than 90 % of the PM to the 2014 on-road emissions
a larger potential for NOx and PM reductions than do other inventory in China (Ministry of Environmental Protection
vehicle types. These results are of paramount importance, of China 2015).
Among the diesel engine exhaust emissions, the two key
pollutants are particulate matter (PM) and NOx, which
& Zhaowen Qiu have a trade-off relationship. Diesel Particulate Filters, also
known as DPFs, are exhaust after-treatment devices that
School of Automobile, Changan University, Xian 710064, can significantly reduce PM emissions from dieselfueled
China vehicles, by 8595 % or even more (Resitoglu et al. 2015;
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Changan Yelverton et al. 2015). One study showed that certain DPFs
University, Xian 710061, China reduced emissions of hydrocarbons and CO by 7090 %

2718 Z. Qiu et al.

(Johnson 2008). DPFs typically use a porous ceramic, the potential of achieving Euro VI standards by developing
cordierite substrate, or metallic filter, to physically trap an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) technique for a basic
particulate matter (PM) and remove it from the exhaust diesel engine that meets Euro III emissions standards.
stream. DPFs are usually assembled together with exhaust These literature studies about the potential of emission-
gas recirculation (EGR), which can reduce NOx emissions. reduction strategies were mostly aimed at a certain type of
Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems inject a diesel engine or a diesel fleet. However, diesel emissions
reductant, also known as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), into depend on many parameters, such as fuel, engine type,
the exhaust stream, where it reacts with a catalyst to con- emission-control technology, engine age, and maintenance,
vert NOx emissions to N2 (nitrogen gas) and oxygen. An among other factors, and governments often mandate
SCR system can reduce NOx emissions by up to 75 % and multiple control techniques to reduce emissions in both
is a well-established technique for NOx reduction of sta- new diesels and in-use diesels simultaneously. Therefore, it
tionary diesel engines (Koebel et al. 2000). An SCR system is necessary to determine the degree of the reduction effect
is installed with combustion optimization of internal for all the diesels in a metropolitan area, for several dif-
combustion engines, to remove PM. To be sure, the actual ferent strategies.
emission-reduction effect will vary, depending on the Xian, the capital city of Shaanxi province, is the largest
specific manufacturer, technology, and application. Other city in northwest China. Similar to many other mega-cities,
emission-reduction strategies can also achieve a good Xian is facing long-term air-quality concerns, as air pol-
effect for a single vehicle. However, replacing an entire lution has been rising during the past several decades,
vehicle may be the best option for equipment that is because of rapidly increasing vehicle traffic and energy
nearing the end of its useful life or was manufactured consumption (Zhang et al. 2015). In this present study, the
before stringent emission standards were put in place. main objectives were to identify the potential of emission-
Popularization and application of alternative fuels (such as reduction strategies, including fuel improvements, elimi-
CNG and LNG) and fuel improvements (such as ultra-low nation of yellow-brand vehicles, more widespread use of
sulfur diesel) also realize a large reduction of emissions. alternative fuels (e.g., NG), and the installation of DPFs,
Moreover, operation strategies such as congestion mitiga- and to quantify the weights of these potential strategies.
tion and idling reduction can also achieve a good effect. Diesel-fleet-related data such as age distribution, operating
Government regulators are certainly familiar with these mode, and vehicle type composition were obtained from
technologies, and know that they can decrease vehicle published statistics, and on-board measurements were
emissions. However, implementation of these emission- employed to calculate the diesel emission inventories of
reduction strategies in order to mitigate air pollution is a NOx and PM, using the MOVES model. The results are of
more complex problem, and quantification of the potential paramount importance, especially for Xian and other cities
effectiveness of these strategies would be helpful. that are considering adopting strategies to mitigate air
There are no existing studies that evaluate the potential pollution from vehicles.
of these emission-reduction strategies for an entire area or
city. Some studies have focused on identifying the reduc-
tion effects of several strategies on one particular type of Methodology
vehicle, or on a vehicle fleet on a particular road sec-
tion. Papson et al. (2010) analyzed the emission benefits of Emissions inventory calculation model
five tugboat emission-reduction strategies: vessel engine
repowering, vessel speed reduction, biodiesel, diesel par- The emissions inventory of diesels in Xian City can be
ticulate filters, and selective catalytic reduction. They calculated using the MOVES model. MOVES can perform
ranked the five strategies according to the corresponding emission-inventory calculations for both microscopic
emission-reduction capacity to the entire tug and tow fleet (project level) and macroscopic (county level) scenarios. In
of a port. Elgowainy et al. (2013) estimated the potential the modeling process, the user specifies the vehicle types,
reduction of well-to-wheels carbon emissions and oil time periods, geographical areas, pollutants, vehicle oper-
consumption associated with alternative fuels and ating characteristics, and road types to be modeled. The
advanced light-duty vehicle (LDV) technologies. Their model then performs a series of calculations, which have
study results show that efficient LDVs and low-carbon been carefully developed to accurately reflect vehicle
fuels can contribute to a substantial reduction in GHG operating processes, such as cold start or extended idle, and
emissions. Na et al. (2015) evaluated the emission-reduc- to provide estimates of bulk emissions and emission rates
tion potential of biodiesel and renewable diesel on in-use (EPA 2014). In this study, the MOVES custom domain
heavy-duty diesel trucks by chassis dynamometer exhaust option was used with diesel data from Xian. The main
emission measurements. Squaiella et al. (2013) evaluated inputs at the county level included source type population,

Potential of diesel emissions reduction strategies in Xian, China 2719

vehicle types, VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled), I/M pro- year for MOVES, for calculating diesel inventories. We
grams, fuel, meteorological data, ramp fractions, road type choose the diesel fuel Formulation ID = 20300, with sul-
distribution, age distribution, and average speed distribu- fur content of 300 ppm in MOVES, as the default value for
tion. MOVES applies an interpolation method on default the Xian case study.
driving cycles (categorized by average speed) to determine
the driving cycle under the input average speed data from Data collection
on-board GPS devices. From the interpolated driving cycle,
we can acquire the speed profile in units of seconds, and The diesel vehicle ownership rates used are from the
the acceleration and deceleration of vehicles under the automobile industry statistical yearbook of 2012. Diesel
input average speed, and from these inputs the emissions vehicles were divided into six categories: passenger car,
inventory can be calculated. A few correction factors are minibus, transit bus, light truck, medium-weight truck, and
applied to the emission rates to adjust for the influence of heavy truck: categories consistent with those defined in
temperature, air conditioning, and fuel effects to obtain the MOVES. According to the vehicles sizes and usages, we
total emissions as shown in Eq. 1 (Vallamsundar and Lin matched Chinese vehicle types into the MOVES model.
2011; Yao et al. 2014). The matching results and specific ownership numbers for
each type are shown in Table 2.
Totalemissionsemission process; vehicle types  Age distributions and deterioration factors of various
emission rateemission process;bin  activitybin vehicle types can be acquired from the statistical yearbook.
 adjustmentsprocess ; 1 We also made a special investigation for the two diesel
vehicles typestransit buses and heavy trucksthat have
where emission rate for each emission process is estimated relatively fixed parking places, such as a transit bus ter-
for each source type and operating mode bin; adjustments minal and a freight transport station. The age distribution
are applied to emission rates to reflect the conditions for the of transit buses and heavy trucks in Xian are shown in
location and time specified by user. Adjustments are also Figs. 1 and 2, respectively.
made for temperature, humidity, air conditioning, inspec- The average speed distribution for each type of diesel
tion and maintenance program, and fuel properties. vehicle was obtained from a portable GPS device installed
Because the MOVES database was built from U.S. in the vehicle. MOVES defines 16 speed bins which
vehicle surveys, travel data, and research studies (EPA, describe the average driving speeds (USEPA 2012). The
2012), it was necessary to revise the emission inventories GPS was a high-performance global positioning system,
by taking into consideration the vehicle emission standard and was installed in the cigarette-lighter power outlet. The
differences between China and USA. Liu et al. (2013) GPS was able to measure the speed, local position, lap
determined that Chinas vehicle inventories could be times, and split times of buses at 10 Hz. As soon as the
obtained by using the model year from the US when the vehicle engine started, the GPS device plugged into the
standards corresponded to those for China in the selected cigarette-lighter outlet would begin to record speed and
study year. Since diesel properties are the critical index for time, so that it could record both idling and running time.
emission standards, the model year can be determined by We choose two heavy-duty trucks and five transit buses as
comparing the diesel property characteristics between samples to measure the average speed distribution. The
China and the U.S. The results of the comparison shown in running routes of these vehicle samples are shown in
Table 1 indicate that 2000 can be selected as the model Fig. 3. The investigation was run for 2 months with every

Table 1 Comparison of diesel

Item Units China U.S (From Oct. 2000)
fuel qualities, between USA and
China Sulfur content % 0.05 0.05
Cetane number C 4050 42
Aromatics content %m/m 35
Density kg/m3 840 (20 C) 840 (15 C)
Viscosity mm2/s 3.89 (20 C) 4.0 (40 C)
T90 B C 324 310
T95 B C 340 320
End point of distillation B C 380
Carbon residue B %m/m 0.6 0.6
Ash content B %m/m 0.12 0.10

2720 Z. Qiu et al.

Table 2 Matching Chinese vehicle types input to the MOVES model type of diesel vehicle, until the data collected could meet
and their ownership counts the requirements for MOVES modeling.
Vehicle type in China Vehicle type in MOVES Ownership Yearly VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) for each vehicle
type, as well as monthly, daily, and hourly VMT fractions,
Passenger car Passenger car 5488
can be imported into the MOVES system to estimate
Minibus School bus 13,605 emission inventories. The yearly VMT of each type of
Transit bus Transit bus 7741 vehicle was obtained from field survey data and is shown in
Light truck Light commercial truck 41,477 Table 3. Monthly and daily VMT fractions were set with
Medium truck Single unit short-haul truck 58,582 MOVES default data. Hourly VMT fractions were mea-
Heavy truck Combination long-haul truck 34,558 sured on a typical road (Nanerhuan Road at Xian). The
ramp fraction used was the MOVES default (0.08). The
temperature and humidity data of Xian were obtained by
referring to the historical data from the Xian meteoro-
logical Bureau website.

Potential strategies scenario design

age distribution%


15 Four emission-reduction strategies were selected, for cut-

ting the diesel emissions: fuel-standard improvement (S1),
elimination of yellow-brand vehicles (S2), increased use
5 of alternative fuels (NG, natural gas) (S3), and installation
of DPFs in the older diesel vehicles (S4).
0 Fuel-standard improvements consist mainly of decreas-
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
ageyears ing the dieselfuel sulfur content, one of the key diesel-fuel
parameters. We assumed that the sulfur content would be
Fig. 1 Age distribution of transit buses in 2012 in Xian decreased from the current 350 ppm Chinese Standard III
level to the 50 ppm Chinese Standard IV level.
20 The decommissioning of yellow-brand vehicles
would change the age distribution of the diesel fleets.
age ditribution%

15 Yellow-brand vehicles are defined as those diesel vehi-

cles entering into the market that do not meet the Chinese
10 Emission Standard III, and non-diesel gasoline-powered
vehicles that do not meet the Chinese Emission Standard I.
Therefore, we assumed that all the diesel yellow-brand
vehicles would be replaced with the newest model of diesel
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 vehicles, which meet the Chinese Emission Standard IV.
ageyear Natural gas is one of typical alternative fuels for on-road
Fig. 2 Age distribution of heavy trucks in 2012 in Xian
vehicles. With the development of liquid technology, many
heavy-duty vehicles are being powered with natural gas,
mainly liquefied natural gas (LNG), because of its eco-
baseline scenario nomic efficiency and reduced refueling frequency, and
scenario 1
Table 3 Yearly VMT by vehicle type
Inventories /ton

10000 Vehicle type VMT (km)

Passenger car 18,000

Minibus 35,000
Transit bus 100,000
NOx PM10 PM2.5 Light truck 30,000
Medium-weight truck 45,000
Fig. 3 Comparison of emissions inventories between baseline and Heavy truck 75,000
Scenario 1

Potential of diesel emissions reduction strategies in Xian, China 2721

LNG-powered heavy-duty diesel sales volume has begun to of Chinese Diesel Standard III. In the MOVES modeling,
increase in China. In this study, in order to explore the the other parameters were kept unchanged and the diesel
emission-reduction effect of alternative fuel, we assumed property was changed based on the sulfur content limit of
that the entire heavy-duty vehicle fleet of Xian would be Chinese Diesel Standard IV. The changes in the emission-
replaced with LNG-powered vehicles. Based on the rele- inventory results after this fuel-standard improvement are
vant literature, we assumed that the emission-reduction shown in Fig. 3. Compared with the baseline scenario, after
rates of PM and NOx would be 91 and 30 %, respectively, implementing Chinese Diesel Standard IV, the NOx
after this conversion (Goyal and Sidhartha 2003). emissions inventory would be decreased by 13.06 %, the
DPF is commonly used to retrofit in-use yellow-brand PM10 inventory by 37.11 %, and the PM2.5 inventory by
diesel-fueled vehicles that are in good condition. Among 35.26 %.
the all diesel yellow-brand trucks, there are some that
are in good condition with relatively low mileage and have Scenario 2: elimination of yellow-brand vehicles
enough useful life remaining to make retrofitting their
emission-control systems worthwhile. We assumed that The 2014 Chinese Vehicle Emission Control Annual
30 % of yellow-brand vehicles would fall into this cat- Report has indicated that the yellow-brand vehicles,
egory, and could be retrofitted with DPFs, reducing their while accounting for 13.4 % of the vehicle fleet, emitted
PM emissions by 70 % (Hesterberg et al. 2008). 43.3, 44.8, 53, and 78 % of the total CO, HC, NOx, and PM
emissions, respectively. (Yellow-brand diesel vehicles
are defined as those that entered the market before 2007.)
Results and discussion Therefore, by reducing the number of old vehicles, the age
distribution of the fleet would be adjusted as the new diesel
Emissions inventory of baseline year 2012 vehicles replace the yellow-brand ones. The modeling
results show that this change would reduce the NOx by
By using a revised MOVES system (MOVES2010b) with the 5.46 %, the PM10 by 9.63 %, and the PM2.5 by 10.06 %,
above data collected in Xian, the NOx, PM10, and PM2.5 as shown in Fig. 4.
emissions of each type of diesel exhaust were estimated, and
are shown in Table 4. Clearly, diesel trucks emitted more Scenario 3: increased use of alternative fuel (NG, natural
NOx and PM than did buses. Among these, medium trucks gas)
accounted for almost half of the total NOx emissions,
because they have the highest ownership rate. Yet ownership CNG has been used to fuel passenger taxis and buses in
rate is not the sole factor influencing the emissions inventory. Xian for many years. Recently, vehicle factories have
For example, transit buses NOx emissions account for begun to design and sell heavy trucks fueled with LNG, to
17.07 % of the total, because their vehicle miles traveled are take advantage of the economic benefits of the natural gas
higher than any of the other vehicle types, even though their and the reduced refueling frequency. Based on the results
ownership proportion is just 4.79 %. of related studies, we assumed that the emission reductions
of PM and NOx would be 91 % and 30 %, respectively,
Scenario comparison of potential strategies when NGs (both compressed natural gas and liquefied
natural gas) were used to fuel heavy-duty vehicles. The
Scenario 1: fuel-standard improvement calculation results show that emission cuts for NOx, PM10,
and PM2.5 would be 141.6 (7.43 %), 409.5 (20.77 %), and
In the Chinese Diesel Standard IV, the sulfur content of the 309.4 (19.45 %) tons, respectively, compared to the 2012
diesel fuel must be decreased to 50 ppm, from the 350 ppm emissions inventory.

Table 4 Emission inventories of diesel vehicle types in Xian in 2012, in tons

Emission type Diesel vehicle types Total
Passenger car Minibus Transit bus Light truck Medium-weight truck Heavy truck

NOx 40 670 3250 1200 9180 4720 19,060

PM10 2 70 260 130 1060 450 1972
PM2.5 1 50 220 110 870 340 1591

2722 Z. Qiu et al.

20000 Table 5 Emission-reduction efficiency of each control scenario/%

baseline scenario
Scenario 2
Scenario NOX PM10 PM2.5
Inventories /ton

S1 13.06 37.11 35.26

S2 5.46 9.63 10.06
S3 7.43 20.77 19.45
S4 0.00 5.06 5.08
NOx PM10 PM2.5
largest comprehensive cut, for average PM and NOx
Fig. 4 Comparison of emission inventories between baseline and reductions of about 36.19 % and 13.06 % compared to the
Scenario 2 baseline scenario. This means that the characteristics of
fuel are the key factor for reducing vehicle emissions.
Governments should therefore require diesel vehicles to
Scenario 4: installing DPFs meet the national standards, and focus on introducing more
serious fuel standards that match the emission standard
DPFs have been applied to production vehicles since 1999, needs.
and are now standard equipment on most European diesel
2. Emission-reduction effect analysis for each type of
cars and all U.S. and Japanese diesel cars. All 2007 HD
diesel vehicle in Xian
truck engines in the U.S., and all but the long-haul trucks in
Japan, use them. In China, however, DPFs are mainly used In order to obtain the emission-control effect for each
to retrofit old diesel vehicles. Here we supposed that all type of diesel vehicle, the emission reductions of NOx,
yellow-brand diesel vehicles would be retrofitted with PM10, and PM2.5 for the four scenarios are given in
DPFs, resulting in at least a 70 % emissions reduction. The Figs. 5, 6, and 7. Figure 5 shows that except for installing
results indicated that PM10 and PM2.5 emissions from
diesel vehicles in Xian would be cut by 99.75 (5.06 %)
and 80.85 (5.08 %) tons, respectively. These low rates of 3000
DPF reduction result from the low retrofit rate of just 30 %
of the yellow-brand vehicles and their low ownership rate S1 S2 S3 S4
NOx cut /ton

of only about 6.5 % (130.4 thousand vehicles) of the total 2000

diesel vehicle fleet in Xian. Currently, this policy of ret- 1500
rofitting vehicles with DPFs is carried out in those devel-
oped citiesespecially the China eastern coastal cities 1000
such as Shanghai, Guangdong, and Shengzhenwhere 500
there are a large number of yellow-brand diesel vehicles.
Therefore, DPF retrofit is not a viable major pollution- Passenger Minibus Transit Light Medium Heavy
reduction strategy for all Chinese cities. car bus truck truck truck

Fig. 5 NOX cut for each type of diesel vehicle in the four scenarios
Comprehensive analysis

1. Emission-reduction effect analysis for total diesel

vehicles in Xian 1200

In order to compare the weights of the four control 1000

S1 S2 S3 S4
strategies, the emission results from the baseline scenario
PM10 cut /ton

and the emission cuts of the four alternative scenarios are
listed in Table 5. For NOx reduction, the best strategy is
fuel-standard improvement (S1), followed by (in order of 400
effectiveness) increased use of alternative fuels (S3),
elimination of yellow-brand diesel vehicles (S2), and
retrofitting vehicles by installing DPFs (S4). For PM10 or 0
Passenger Minibus Transit Light Medium Heavy
PM2.5, the sequence of control strategies, in terms of car bus truck truck truck
emission-reduction efficiency, is the same: S1, S3, S2, and
S4. Therefore, fuel-standard improvement results in the Fig. 6 PM10 cut for each type of diesel vehicle in the four scenarios

Potential of diesel emissions reduction strategies in Xian, China 2723

1200 be decreased by 30 and 90 % through the increased use of

alternative fuels such as natural gas. Although installing
DPFs in older vehicles could reduce PM emissions in
S1 S2 S3 S4 individual vehicles by 70 %, the low ownership rates of
PM2.5 cut \ton

these vehicles, and the low retrofit rate that is feasible,
600 make this strategy relatively ineffective.
Comprehensive analysis shows that for NOx, PM10, and
PM2.5 reduction, the best strategy is fuel-standard
improvement (S1), followed by (in order of effectiveness)
the increased use of alternative fuel (CNG) (S3), elimina-
0 tion of yellow-brand diesel vehicles (S2), and retrofitting
Passenger Minibus Transit Light Medium Heavy older vehicles by installing DPFs (S4). Medium-weight and
car bus truck truck truck
heavy trucks have a larger potential for NOx and PM
Fig. 7 PM2.5 cut for each type of diesel vehicle in the four scenarios reduction than do other vehicle types. This study can serve
as a reference for similar cities that may be considering
possible strategies for mitigating air pollution from surface
DPFs, the other three strategies result in some reductions, transportation vehicles.
to varying degrees. Medium-weight and heavy trucks have
larger potential NOx reductions than any of the other Acknowledgments This study was supported by the Fundamental
Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 310822152006,
vehicle types. According to Figs. 6 and 7, the reduction 310822151024), the Chinese National Natural Science Fund (No.
effects of PM10 and PM2.5 are similar for each diesel type. 51478045), and the Key Project of Major Problems in Science and
Using natural gas has a huge potential for controlling PM, Technology in Shaanxi Province, China (No. 2012KTZB03-01-04).
especially for medium-weight and heavy trucks, whereas
the low ownership rate for diesel passenger cars in Xian
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