Culture 3 min read

Fuel Efficient Car Engines May Threaten Public Health

tawan /

tawan /

A recent study suggests that fuel-efficient car engines may harm the climate and public health.

The gasoline direct injection engine (GDI) is trendy and for good reasons. Along with promising fuel economy, GDI could also help achieve the CO2 emission goals that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established in 2012.

For that reason, the market share of vehicles with this technology has been on a steady rise.

The market share of GDI-equipped vehicles has jumped from 2.3 percent in the model year 2008 to 51 percent in the model year 2018. According to the EPA, 93 percent of the cars in the United States will use a gasoline direct injection engine by 2025.

While the technology may boost fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, GDI engines have a significant downside. It produces more black carbon aerosols than the traditional port fuel injection engines.

The University of Georgia College of Engineering team points out that black carbon has climate warming properties. They explained further in a published paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

How Fuel-Efficient car Engines can Harm Public Health and the Climate

Black carbon from engines could increase the premature mortality rate from vehicle emissions, says the UGA team.

The researchers predict that annual death from vehicle emissions could rise from 855 to 1,599 as the adoption of GDI grows. Also, the social cost of premature death could be as much as $5.95 billion.

There’s more.

According to the team at UGA, the increase in black carbon emissions from GDI-equipped vehicles will drive climate warming in urban areas. And the warming will significantly exceed the cooling associated with CO2 reduction in these parts of the U.S.

The study’s principal investigator, Rawad Saleh explained:

“Even though emissions from gasoline vehicles constitute a small fraction of the black carbon in the atmosphere, the vehicle emissions are concentrated in regions with high population densities, which magnifies their effect.”

The recent shift to GDI-equipped vehicles inadvertently leads to an increase in black carbon.

Saleh points out that the adoption of these fuel-efficient car engines was based on experimental data. By placing the preliminary findings in a modeling framework, the UGA study noted the trade-off between CO2 reduction and black carbon increase.

“Our research shows the climate trade-off is much different on the regional scale, especially in areas with high vehicle densities,” Selah said. “In these regions, the climate burden induced by the increase in black carbon dominates over the climate benefits of the reduction in CO2.”

Read More: Scientists use Revolutionary Technique to Reduce Car Emissions

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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