Quantifying the Impact of Traffic-Related and Driver-Related Factors on Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Emissions

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

The transportation sector is the dominant source of U.S. fuel consumption and emissions. Specifically, highway travel accounts for nearly 75 percent of total transportation energy use and slightly more than 33 percent of national emissions of EPA's six Criteria pollutants. Enactment of the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 (CAAA) and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) have changed the ways that most states and local governments deal with transportation problems. Transportation planning is geared to improve air quality as well as mobility. It is required that each transportation activity be analyzed in advance using the most recent mobile emission estimate model to ensure not to violate the Conformity Regulation.

Several types of energy and emission models have been developed to capture the impact of a number of factors on vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. Specifically, the current state-of-practice in emission modeling (i.e. Mobile5 and EMFAC7) uses the average speed as a single explanatory variable. However, up to date there has not been a systematic attempt to quantify the impact of various travel and driver-related factors on vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.

This thesis first systematically quantifies the impact of various travel-related and driver-related factors on vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. The analysis indicates that vehicle fuel consumption and emission rates increase considerably as the number of vehicle stops increases especially at high cruise speed. However, vehicle fuel consumption is more sensitive to the cruise speed level than to vehicle stops. The aggressiveness of a vehicle stop, which represents a vehicle's acceleration and deceleration level, does have an impact on vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. Specifically, the HC and CO emission rates are highly sensitive to the level of acceleration when compared to cruise speed in the range of 0 to 120 km/h. The impact of the deceleration level on all MOEs is relatively small. At high speeds the introduction of vehicle stops that involve extremely mild acceleration levels can actually reduce vehicle emission rates. Consequently, the thesis demonstrated that the use of average speed as a sole explanatory variable is inadequate for estimating vehicle fuel consumption and emissions, and the addition of speed variability as an explanatory variable results in better models.

Second, the thesis identifies a number of critical variables as potential explanatory variables for estimating vehicle fuel consumption and emission rates. These explanatory variables include the average speed, the speed variance, the number of vehicle stops, the acceleration noise associated with positive acceleration and negative acceleration noise, the kinetic energy, and the power exerted. Statistical models are developed using these critical variables. The statistical models predict the vehicle fuel consumption rate and emission rates of HC, CO, and NOx (per unit of distance) within an accuracy of 88%-96% when compared to instantaneous microscopic models (Ahn and Rakha, 1999), and predict emission rates of HC, CO, and NOx within 95 percentile confidence limits of chassis dynamometer tests conducted by EPA.

Comparing with the current state-of-practice, the proposed statistical models provide better estimates for vehicle fuel consumption and emissions because speed variances about the average speed along a trip are considered in these models. On the other hand, the statistical models only require several aggregate trip variables as input while generating reasonable estimates that are consistent with microscopic model estimates. Therefore, these models could be used with transportation planning models for conformity analysis.

Number of Vehicle Stops. Acceleration Noise, Power, Kinetic Energy, Average Speed, Statistical Model, Vehicle Emissions, Speed Variability, Vehicle Fuel Consumption