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CCEE Professors and Students in the News for Emissions Testing on VW Vehicles

When the VW emissions scandal made headlines in late September, reactions ranged from disbelief to disappointment. From drivers, to stockholders, to regulators, the revelation of the ‘defeat device’ installed by VW to reduce emissions during laboratory testing created shockwaves on Main street and Wall street.

Dr. H. Christopher Frey seized on this teaching moment, working the real-world issue into class discussions and field data collection assignments in his air pollution class. His team, including PhD students Jiangchuan Hu and Nikhil Rastogi, immediately began testing VW diesel automobiles including some owned by CCEE students and faculty. It wasn’t the first time they had done so. In 2013, his group measured a VW Jetta and observed NOx emission rates about 14 times higher than the emission standards.

This latest round of testing has so far included several VW Jettas and Golfs ranging from 2010 to 2015 models. This real world emissions testing utilizes a research methodology, and software, developed over more than a decade of research here at CCEE. Multiple instruments are used and the routes are carefully designed based on a study conducted by Dr. Frey in 2008.

“Our statistically valid model incorporates routes that include freeways, various arterial roads with numerous types of signaling and traffic patterns, and a wide range of road conditions and speed limits,” Dr. Frey said. “The point is to make sure the automobile undergoes a range of fuel use and emissions rates.”

This baseline data will allow Dr. Frey to compare these same vehicles again after they have been repaired by Volkswagen. For more information, and to see photos of the testing procedures visit Dr. Frey’s website.

Frey and his colleagues have been in much demand by the news media, including regional, state and national radio, print and television reporters. Dr. Frey was interviewed by a freelance writer working for the New Yorks Times. Additionally AP Reporter Allen Breed conducted several interviews including coverage with MS candidate Jeff Thomas, who is the owner of a 2010 Jetta tested by Dr. Frey. The AP video can be viewed here.

AP Reporter Allen Breed interviews MS candidate Jeff Thomas and Dr. Christopher Frey regarding VW Emissions testing.
AP Reporter Allen Breed interviews MS candidate Jeff Thomas and Dr. Christopher Frey regarding VW Emissions testing.