February 5, 2020 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received a five-year, $25 million contract from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide testing and analytical services related to vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency.
SwRI will conduct emissions characterization and technology assessment under the “Testing and Analytical Services for Regulation of Motor Vehicles, Engines, and Fuels and Fuel Additives” contract. Key areas of SwRI support include developing test procedures and equipment for regulated and unregulated emissions in light- and heavy-duty vehicles and components as well as for marine, railway, aircraft, small engine and other non-highway propulsion systems.
“The scope of this contract is quite broad,” said Patrick Merritt, program manager in SwRI’s Powertrain Engineering Division. “It encompasses fuels and lubricants effects and engine and emissions characterizations, as well as economic studies, general rule-making support and coordinating peer review meetings.”
Under the contract, SwRI will evaluate all types of fuels and additives, including conventional and reformulated gasoline and diesel fuels. Engineers will study alternative fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), hydrogen and blends of hydrocarbon fuels, as well as electrified powertrains for passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks and off-road vehicles.
Structured as a series of task orders, the contract follows previous emissions research for the EPA, which conducts environmental assessment, research and education efforts to maintain and enforce national environmental standards under a variety of environmental statutes. In 2015, SwRI won a similar five-year, $20 million contract.
“We develop advanced technology to minimize emissions while increasing the efficiency and reliability of cars and heavy-duty vehicles,” Merritt said. “Some of this work is developmental, but the agency has to have as much data as possible to formulate industry standards. SwRI helps to clean the air in the United States and throughout the world as other countries begin to adapt emission standards modeled after the EPA standards.”
Under the contract, SwRI will evaluate vehicle powertrains, batteries and emission control systems to ensure compliance with current emissions and other regulatory requirements. Technical services include evaluating prototype vehicle propulsion systems and related control, data acquisition and sampling systems.
“The contract touches nearly all areas of engine and vehicle research at Southwest Research Institute. Our diverse expertise enables us to perform science, engineering and support functions in one location rather than having to rely on external laboratories,” Merritt said. “Our long history and extensive expertise in engines, powertrains, fuels, lubricants and electrification means we can provide the support requested in a very timely manner all in one location.” In addition, SwRI provides on-site support to the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has a lab in Ann Arbor to support the EPA and the local powertrain industry.
The EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) contract draws on SwRI’s expertise in its Powertrain Engineering and Fuels and Lubricants Research divisions. SwRI has conducted research in all facets of the automotive industry since its inception in 1947 and has performed contract work for federal environmental endeavors since before the EPA came into existence in 1970.