Brakes As Emitters Of Particulate Matter
Auto Components India|July 2021
Peter Fischer, Head of the Institute of Automotive Engineering at TU Graz draws attention to particulate matter emissions from brakes in a world obsessed with exhaust emissions.
Peter Fischer
Whenever you think about emissions it’s quite likely you are thinking exhaust emissions. Opines Peter Fischer, Head of the Institute of Automotive Engineering at TU Graz in a report, “We have a problem and nobody knows how big it is. But one thing is certain: brakes cause more Particulate Matter (PM) emissions than internal combustion engines via their exhaust gases. Nevertheless, there is a shortage of basic knowledge and legal regulations.” The study steers attention away from ICE emissions and towards other particulate emissions from motorised traffic known to be harmful to health and the environment. The study cites particulate emissions from the abrasion of brake discs and brake pads and claims these far exceed PM levels that a diesel vehicle is allowed to emit through the exhaust pipe within all standards and limits.

The lack of address to such a potent issue is further weighed down by measurement methods claimed to be lacking coupled with the lack of legal regulations as per the study. In the framework of the Particle Measurement Programme (PMP) of the Economic Commission for Europe UNECE, for instance, work is underway on the recommendation for legislation, on the test procedure and test set-up (on the test bench only). Accordingly, brake PM is to be regulated on the basis of measurement data from the Worldwide Harmonised Light-duty vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). However, these cycles on the chassis dynamometer are far removed from real-world driving behaviour and deliver values claimed to be too good to be real. “Our fear is – to put it bluntly – that a driving cycle will be tinkered with in a way that doesn’t match real-world driving and produces low emissions. Especially for mountainous areas, where brakes get extremely hot and other chemical reactions take place, legislation based on these facts would do little to improve the emissions situation,” mentions Fischer.

Highly carcinogenic, highly toxic substances

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