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How to Decrease the Environmental Pollution From Vehicles?

Kurov B.A.

The amount of automobiles increases more rapidly than population. At present, about 50 million automobiles are produced every year, i.e. 170 vehicles per minute on average! During forty years that passed after the WW II the number of automobiles increased more than ten times and exceeded the half billion in 1987. In 1998 this number was 700 millions. It is expected, that by the end of the first decade of the XXI century the amount of vehicles will reach one billion.

Practically all modern automobiles have combustion engines. Having relatively small weight such engine is quite powerful, economical, reliable, and uses inexpensive fuel. With the amount of vehicles growing, the serious shortcoming of this engine became more obvious the harmful chemicals are expelled in the atmosphere with each exhaust. The air quality decreased significantly in large cities when the automobiles became too numerous. There is still, however, no engine, that could have provided the automobile same characteristics it has right now. No alternative to combustion engine is planned in the forthcoming decades.

To save the automobile for the mankind, it is necessary at least to achieve the major decrease in exhaust of harmful chemicals. The research in this direction is on the way and some of the results are available already. The automobiles produced at present in developed countries expel 1015 times less of harmful chemicals than it was 1015 years ago. In all developed countries more strict standards are being introduced that control the content of engine exhaust. Thus, the concentration of CO in burned gases of VAZ class automobiles went from 15 g/km in 1991 to 2,2 g/km in 1996 and the sum amount of hydrocarbons and nitrate oxides decreased from 5,1 g/km in 1991 to 0,5 g/km in 1996. More strict regulations were introduced in 2000. Not only quantitative regulations are taking place, but some qualitative changes are present also. Thus, instead of the limitations on fume content the new standard regulating content of hard particles, that absorb harmful aromatic hydrocarbons and cancerogenic benz(a)piren on their surface was introduced. The list of chemicals, that should be regulated is growing.

The global increase in the amount of vehicles provided a new problem for people where the used vehicles should go? From the huge amount of world automobiles the number of vehicles that should be dumped is at the order of few millions.

About 15 millions of automobiles went to trash yards in Western Europe in 1995 and the similar figure for USA was about 12 millions. As a result, up to 7 millions tons of non-used wastes are accumulating in the world every year.

The environmental problems of automobiles became particularly important for Russia during last decade. The amount of automobiles in Russia was 23,7 millions in 1998, including 18,8 millions of sedans, 4,26 millions trucks and 627 thousands of buses and growth rate was: in 1996 5,3%; in 1997 9,2 %; in 1998 5,2 %. The most serious environmental situation was in Moscow city, where the amount of automobiles in the beginning of 1990 was 2,2 millions. Comparing to 1998 the increase in automobiles was 120 thousands vehicles or 6%. At total annual amount of exhausts from fixed and moving sources of pollution as 1738 thousands tons the share of automobiles was 1604 thousands tons or 92,3 %. As a result, in some streets during rush hour the content of harmful chemicals in the air exceeded all acceptable norms in 10 or more times.

The vehicles used in the country at present do not fit European standards on toxicity and expel much more harmful chemicals than their foreign counterparts. A few most important causes exist for Russia in regards to this:

incorrect usage of automobiles. The amount of not fully functioning vehicles still large even in Moscow city.

the lack of strict regulations regarding the environmental qualities of automobiles. Since the beginning of 90-s the standards that were almost unchanged during 10 years started to lag behind the European standards. With the lack of strict regulations regarding toxicity, the customer is not interested in buying more environmentally safe but at the same time more expensive vehicles. At the same time the producer is not interested to release such vehicles.

the infrastructure of use of automobiles, equipped according to modern environmental regulations is not available.

comparing to European countries, the application of neutralizers in Russia is still have some problems.

The situation was improving during recent years. Although the introduction of strict environmental regulations is behind for 10 years, what more important is that it already started. Thus, in Moscow city, due to certain measures some trend toward the decrease of harmful substance exhausts by automobiles is obvious. In 1998, the exhausts were decreased in 165 thousands

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