Emissions Chemistry
Office of Automotive Engineering



Contact Information

email icon
Contact us:
ae-contact@swri.org

The characterization and analysis of various toxic and carcinogenic compounds is a special area of research and development at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). These toxins include:

  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Cyanogens
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Metals
  • Polynuclear aromatics
  • Dioxins

Nontoxic compounds such as nitrous oxides are also researched. Of prime concern during emissions development programs are the regulated emission of:

  • Total hydrocarbons
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Oxides of nitrogen
  • Total particulates
  • Smoke opacity

In addition, representative emission samples are often analyzed for a variety of other unregulated emission compounds. Using analytical techniques, SwRI determines levels of these unregulated emissions such as:

Controlling Total Particulate

To control total particulate, soluble organic fraction (SOF) is of special interest to engine manufacturers and regulatory groups. SwRI not only determines SOF by conventional solvent extraction techniques but has established a direct filter injection gas chromatography (DFI/GC) technique that eliminates the need for expensive and sensitivity-limiting solvent extractions.

Unregulated emissions chemistry support is provided to a wide range of ongoing projects within SwRI to characterize:

  • Gaseous emissions
    • Complete hydrocarbon speciation (up to 200 components)
    • Oxygenated components (alcohols and aldehydes)
    • Ions (ammonia, sulfate, nitrate, and others)
    • Greenhouse gas analysis (methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and others)
  • Particulate matter
    • Percent of unburned oil by DFI-GC (including new filter types)
    • Soluble organic fraction (SOF)
    • Volatile organic fraction (VOF)
    • Ions (sulfates and nitrates)
  • Online chemical analysis
    • 14 FTIR instruments (up to 25 components)
    • Online mass spectrometer (up to 20 components)

Fuel Registration Programs

Fuel registration programs such as Section 211b of the Clean Air Act, California Air Resources Board (CARB) fuel waivers, and Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are performed on a variety of conventional and non-petroleum based fuels. Emissions characterization for regulated, unregulated and other air toxic components is an essential part of fuel and fuel additive registration.

  • Regulated emissions
    • Total hydrocarbons
    • Oxides of nitrogen
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Particulates
  • Unregulated emissions
    image: IAFTC logo

    Field experience, engineering and chemistry skills, and design and fabrication capabilities are blended together in the IAFTC to offer an interdisciplinary approach to fuel-related services.


    image: SwRI specializes in the measurement of toxic emissions produced during the catastrophic failure of batteries.

    SwRI specializes in the measurement of toxic emissions produced during the catastrophic failure of batteries.

    • Individual hydrocarbons (up to C12)
    • Aldehydes and ketones
    • Alcohols and ethers
    • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
    • Nitrated polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (NPAH)
    • Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF)
    • Products containing typical elements
  • Other areas
    • Greenhouse gases (CO2, N2O, CH4)
    • Air toxics
    • Hazardous air pollutants (HAP)
    • Fuel economy

International Alternative Fuels Technology Center (IAFTC)

The Emissions Chemistry activity actively supports SwRI’s International Alternative Fuels Technology Center (IAFTC). The IAFTC assists clients in exploring, developing, and evaluating current and future alternative fuels from source, through production, to real-world use.

Battery Emissions Chemistry

Battery emissions chemistry is an important part of the new and expanding area of battery technology for use in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. SwRI specializes in the measurement of toxic emissions produced during the catastrophic failure of these batteries. Testing methods consist of hazardous substance monitoring, using state of the art equipment, from three primary areas of abuse:

  • Mechanical/physical
  • Electrical
  • Thermal

Measurement of battery effluent gases provides information on human exposure and the hazardous substances released during abuse testing or in the event of a vehicle accident.

Related Terminology

emissions chemistry  •  regulated emissions  •  fuel registration  •  fuel additive registration  •  battery emissions  •  battery  •  unregulated emissions  •  non-regulated emissions   •  hydrocarbon speciation  •  speciated hydrocarbons

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.
05/14/14