Department of Mechanical Engineering
Carbon dioxide measurement accuracy and precision

The project has accelerated the improvements to reduce variability in test measurements of fuel consumption and emissions. As consumption and emissions fall, any benefits become increasingly difficult to measure, which is why this project has been so useful.

— Dr Phil Price, Technical Specialist and Supervisor, Vehicle Evaluation & Verification, Ford Europe


Watch a video about the KTA Turbo Centre

Dr Chris Brace and the Department of Mechanical Engineering are collaborating with Ford, Jaguar LandRover and Cummins Turbo Technologies to improve how turbocharged engine systems are designed and engineered.  

Reducing CO2 in cars through precision measurement

In cooperation with Ford Motor Co. Ltd.


EU legislations for CO2 emissions require car manufacturers to improve their fleet average emissions levels by 2020 or face a sizeable levy.

In 2010, the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) worked closely with Ford on an innovative government-funded knowledge transfer project (KTP) to develop commercially affordable procedures, techniques and tools to improve the precision of carbon dioxide measurements, and to embed these into the company's vehicle emissions laboratory at Dunton.

Through achieving this, the company is able to more accurately assess the effects on emissions of any potential vehicle enhancements, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and fuel consumption in the Ford product range.


The project encompassed a range of activities designed to measure and so control the most significant sources of variability within a highly complex test environment including vehicle effects, test equipment setup and driver interactions.

For example, we discovered that the speed and acceleration of the vehicle were not the only factors in accurately evaluating fuel consumption. Furthermore, we confirmed that the position and movement of the accelerator pedal itself had an impact, as did the accuracy of the vehicle’s alignment with the test rig.

Benefits and outcomes

The results of our high precision CO2 measurement research have been embedded into every day practice at Ford's laboratories, where they have successfully doubled the level of precision. This achievement has been instrumental in the development of Ford's Transit and Econetic range of vehicles, the latter accounting for nearly half of Ford's European sales.

Research activities between the emissions measurement laboratory within Ford and the University have increased over the past four years, resulting in a commercial advantage for Ford and the further development of our researchers' powertrain expertise.