Modeling Impact of Road Grade on Driving Behavior, Vehicle Energy Consumption, and Emissions - Haobing Liu

Mason Building, Room 2119
Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 13:00



Motor vehicle emissions and their impacts on local air pollutant concentrations are a primary concern in cities. Properly quantifying energy and emissions is the key step in identifying the major sources of air pollution, evaluating whether transportation activities are consistent with air quality goals, and providing decision makers with reference for implementation of new policies for sustainable development.  Mathematical models are commonly used to predict vehicle energy consumption and emissions. Vehicle-specific power (VSP) is widely used in such models to evaluate engine load, and it is represented as a function of vehicle mass, vehicle dynamic parameters (rolling/drag coefficient), driving behavior (speed and acceleration) and road conditions (gravitational acceleration and road gradient). In the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA’s) MOVES (MOtor Vehicle Emission Simulator) model, speed and VSP levels are tied to vehicle energy consumption and emission rates. Detailed and accurate speed-acceleration joint distributions (SAJDs, also known as Watson plots) can be used to reflect onroad activity required for calculating the distribution of activities in MOVES VSP and speed bins, and thus for estimating vehicle energy consumption and emissions.  Road grade is also a critical variable that affects engine operations, as uphill grades require that the engine perform additional work against gravity in the direction of vehicle motion (while downhill grades obtain an energy benefit).

Real-world vehicle speed and acceleration can be easily collected using low-cost global positioning system (GPS) data loggers, on-board diagnostics (OBD) system data loggers, and smartphones apps. But, The effect of road grade is usually ignored in emission modeling. On the other hand, very little attention has been paid to the interaction between real-world road grade and onroad activity patterns and the resulting impact on energy use and emissions. However, road grade is expected to impact vehicle operations due to drivers’ response to uphill and downhill driving, or due to vehicle mechanical performance. It is currently unclear that how speed and accelerations vary across different road grade levels, and how the interaction of driver behavior and road grade affect engine power, energy consumption, and emissions modeling.

This study is directed at answering two issues: 1): how road grade impacts vehicle speed and acceleration distributions, and how such distributions vary across vehicle types, roadway types, traffic conditions, etc., and 2): how significant the impact of integrating grade interactions is with respect to energy, emissions, and air quality modeling.


Dr. Randall Guensler


Dr. Michael O. Rodgers, Dr. Michael Hunter, Dr. Jorge Laval and Dr. Yao Xie (ISYE)