Public Release: 

UCR scientists to study effects of ethanol in automobile exhaust and emissions

Researchers will evaluate the effects of ethanol and volatility on toxic emissions and the reactivity of the exhaust as it enters the atmosphere

University of California - Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - ( - Two scientists at UC Riverside's College of Engineering - Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) have been awarded more than $800,000 from the Coordinating Research Council, Inc., for a one-year study to better understand the impact of fuel properties on emissions for gasoline blends containing ethanol. The researchers, Drs. Tom Durbin and J. Wayne Miller, were awarded the grant for their proposal "Effects of Ethanol and Volatility Parameters on Exhaust and Evaporative Emissions."

In the past decade, to create cleaner burning gasoline, various compounds have been added to fuel to reduce emissions. California petroleum processing plants are in the process of phasing out the blending of MTBE into gasoline and are beginning to introduce fuel blends containing ethanol.

The objective of the research project by Durbin and Miller is to generate information that can be used to better predict the effects of ethanol content and gasoline volatility parameters on exhaust emissions from the newest vehicles that meet current and upcoming emissions standards.

"This research is important especially now because ethanol is going to play an important role in the blending and supply of gasoline in California and elsewhere throughout the country," said Durbin, associate research engineer at CE-CERT.

Durbin and Miller will test a total of twelve fuels containing various concentrations of ethanol using a fleet of twelve commercial vehicles with advanced emission control technologies. The test fleet will include vehicles ranging from Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) to Super-Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle (SULEV) certification. Testing will include regulated emissions and real-time engine-out and tailpipe emissions.

In addition to measuring the effects of ethanol and fuel volatility on exhaust emissions, the research will also measure formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene and 1,3-butadiene emissions. "By understanding how these compounds change according to the ethanol and fuel volatility in the twelve fuel samples, we will be able to evaluate the effects of fuel properties on toxic emissions as they enter the atmosphere," said Miller, director of the Emissions and Fuels Research Laboratory at CE-CERT.

CE-CERT was established in 1992 as a model for partnerships among industry, government, and academia. CE-CERT's goals are to become a recognized leader in environmental education, a collaborator with industry and government to improve the technical basis for regulations and policy, a creative source of new technology, and a contributor to a better understanding of the environment. CE-CERT is committed to furthering education and research for the next generation of engineers. Its students receive an excellent education and unprecedented opportunities to be intimately involved in the research enterprise.


The Coordinating Research Council, Inc. (CRC) is a non-profit organization that directs studies of the interaction between automotive equipment and petroleum products. The research project by Durbin and Miller is one of the largest one-year awards to a university made by CRC for the fiscal year.

The University of California, Riverside offers undergraduate and graduate education to nearly 16,000 students and has a projected enrollment of 21,000 students by 2010. It is the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse campus of the preeminent ten-campus University of California system, the largest public research university system in the world. The picturesque 1,200-acre campus is located at the foot of the Box Springs Mountains near downtown Riverside in Southern California. More information about UC Riverside is available at or by calling 909-787-5185. For a listing of faculty experts on a variety of topics, please visit

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