VERT initiative:
"New periodic technical inspection" (NPTI)

Air pollution is currently intensively discussed in Germany as well as other countries. One major source of emissions is the traffic of street vehicles. Due to a new act, regular exhaust investigation of each car in Germany is mandatory again. In September 2017 the Federal Council passed a law which demands tailpipe emission measuring of diesel as well as gasoline vehicles. It has to be executed since January 2018. Captured are amongst others CO2, but currently no NOx (Nitrogine oxides) emissions. Since January 2019, additionally, ultrafine particles have to be counted. Examinations at workshops and test facilities by plugging a device into the car ("On-board diagnostics") have been proved as not secure enough against manipulation and car enigne malfunction.

Mandatory tailpipe measuring can be seen as a result of the discussions during the last years about issues like the so-called diesel scandal.  An initiative of VERT, launched in November 2016, addresses the needs of tamper-proof methods for exhaust assessment. The initiative focuses on "New periodic technical inspection" (NPTI). The initiative is supported by the European Union as well as the governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. As a next step for this initiative VERT members will meet at Warsaw on 8th and 9th of March 2018 with industry veterans, scientists and other experts in the field of exhaust measurement and exhaust after treatment. VERT addresses with its new pan-European initiative the following stakeholders 

>> Policymakers on national and European level 
>> Environmental authorities
>> Type approval authorities
>> Equipment manufacturers
>> PTI service providers

As a first step two authors published a whitepaper about NPTI (PDF file). It summarizes the current situation concerning NPTI. Authors are Eng. Msc. Gerrit Kadijk (TNO - Netherland Organization for Applied Sciences) and Dr. med. h. c. Andreas Mayer (Chief technological officer and senior scientist  of VERT). 

Main questions are how tailpipe testing procedures can be made reliable, i. e. tamper-proof against software manipulation of car engines during tests, convenient executable for operators, not time-consuming and cost-ecffective. VERT emphasizes that valid testing systems are available and will be further improved in 2018. According to VERT only periodic testing and well-defined tailpipe measurement methods are reliable. VERT members are going to further optimize their diagnostic instruments to detect irregular exhaust patterns. A second target of the initiative is to support even small workshops with reliable testing devices. Currently only large inspection companies can afford the investment of devices at huge test benches. 

Current status of the discussion

There is broad consensus between experts form different market sectors about the following issues:

(1) DPF (Diesel particle filter): NPTI is urgently needed. The VERT/TNO-NPTI proposal with the PN (particle number) test in low-speed idle run is considered to be correct. It is expected that this procedure will be introduced quickly throughout Europe. Other manufacturers of measuring instruments are developing corresponding NPTI-PN devices. It is assumed that the process will also be suitable for petrol engines with increased idling. The study commissioned by BASt (Federal Highway Research Institute, Germany) to test the measurement methods is currently conducted at TUEV Sued. It will be completed in mid-2018. 

(2) De-NOx (NOx reduction system): In addition to SCR (Selective catalytic redauction), the function of EGR (Exhaus gas recirculation) should also be tested. Load connection is unavoidable. The investment costs for simple roller dynamometers (on workshop floor) are manageable and can be amortized within one year.  The time required should not be significantly more than 10 minutes. However, experience is still lacking for a final definition of a suitable test procedure; many more tests with different vehicles and DeNOx process variants would have to be carried out and it would be necessary to clarify which additional requirements are enforceable in the law, e. g. disclosure of the strategy and functional release for the test. This will be necessary and therefore only future vehicle generations will be considered. Alternatives such as AdBlue monitoring should also be considered. However, some countries, particularly France, will push for solutions that can be implemented quickly.  

(3) 3WC (3-way cat): Testing of the catalytic converter of petrol engines in the PTI, which is currently customary, is also in a bad state. A German association of after-sales companies has carried out a study on this subject, which a VERT member presented and was supplemented by another comany. The current test method does not make it possible to separate functional catalysts from almost uncoated Internet offerings. In this area, too, improvements are needed. Using a simple performance role would remedy this immediately.  The report (not publicly available) estimates that around 3.5 million installed cats in Germany do not work properly. Only about 35,000 of them are currently detected. The main cause for this situation are cheap but not reliable import products, VERT says. They are available on the Internet. Although the cat systems own a valid certificate of the European Union 3 of 4 examined cats did not work correctly during an investigation of TUEV Nord. Only one cat and the OEM product passed the test. All other examined systems failed to pass the test. The defect systems showed to high NOx and/or fine dust values. VERT estimates that around 50,000 of these cheap cats are currently available on the Internet. They can be bought for about 15 percent of the price of an OEM product.

Next Meeting


The working group will meet again until June 2018 to further discuss unsolved problems. Until then, more information is expected from the ongoing work on the specification of PN measuring instruments, from the German measurement instrument study, from the CITA study on SCR testing and from the French programme.

Nanoparticles: Harm by far underestimated

VERT president Lars Larsen and VERT scientific advisor Dr. med h. c. Andreas Mayer, additionally, criticize the current focus in the public discussion. From their point of view it is essential to pay - also in all NPTI discussion - more attention to the ultra-fine particle problem. Policymakers should not only focus on the currently broadly discussed negative effects of NOx of diesel cars. Negative health effects of NOx are over-estimated according to Dr. med. h. c. Mayer. Several reports show that even significant overshooting of NOx limit values prove no harm, Mayer says, while nanoparticles are still underestimated by far. This has to be considered not only in all further NPTI discussions. 

VERT emphasizes that with the technology of its members harmful emissions can be reduced up to 70 percent (NOx) and 99.9 percent (fine-dust). Policymakers, who currently only focus on electric mobility,  should also consider another effect. New diesel cars according to Euro VI and retrofitted vehicles have - at first glance - a weird effect: They act as vacuum cleaners and reduce air pollution. E. g. fine-dust pollution by abrasion from brakes and tires from electric cars would be higher than emissions from first-fit or retrofitted diesel driven cars. Air quality in a city is improved if new diesel cars with Euro VI after treatment systems pass a city, Mayer says. 

Other VERT projects

Besides this initiative VERT tackles also the following issues:

>> Harmful emissions of combustion engines in buses, lorries, heavy-duty machinery, diesel driven trains and ships  
>> Air quality control plans and emission control technology in megacities and developing countries (e. g. elder cars and busses get exported to these countries, complex legislation/standardization processes, cheap, but ineffective technological solutions, meteorological export of air quality problems to neighbor countries)
>> New fuels and exhaust emission control in non-classical combustion engines 

VERT is a technology association for emission control. Members can be as well companies as individuals. VERT cooperates, amongst others, with several universities in Switzerland. Its experts consult the European Commission in regards to exhaust control and air pollution. Several VERT members were leading technological experts during the formation process of EURO 5+6/VI. Additionally, VERT corporate members, as well as scientists, are globally active in the field of air quality. They consult local authorities in countries like Iran, Israel, Mexiko, Chile, China and Germany.

VERT network partners

Network partners of VERT are, amongst others,
>> EMPA - Suisse Material Testing Institute, Dr. Norbert Heeb as leading Scientist is well-reputed and demands further activities in reduction of UFP
>> Scientists from ETH Zurich, engine construction experts (e. g. Professor Jan Czerwinski),  medical experts on UFP effects and diseases like lung cancer, dementia, strokes and heart attacks  (Professor Peter Gehr, Professor Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser) and the globally leading epidemiologist Professor Nino Kuenzli)
>> EPA - Environmental Protection Agency, United States, leading in uncovering the "Diesel Scandal"
>> Environmental organizations like DUH (Environmental Action Germany)
>> State authorities (Suisse Federal Road Office, Senate Authority Berlin)