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Author Topic: Is VW likely to have killed many people in the UK with their diesel cars?  (Read 10213 times)

Offline wolfekeeper

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At the moment, the VW story seems to be that lots of diesel Golfs worldwide are generating very high NOx pollution output, and diesels and golfs are pretty popular in the UK; and these cars would be punching way above their weight in terms of their NOx emissions, perhaps as much as what 10-40 other diesel cars produce.

That suggests that this might actually be a significant fraction of the NOx produced in the UK; significant percentages.

Air pollution is a pretty big killer in the UK. Does anyone have an estimate what proportion of UK's NOx that might represent, and how many people will likely have died from it?


 

Offline ProjectSailor

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The UK in 2013 emmitted 1.02 million tonnes of NOx from all sources.. they estimate 28% of this is vehicles.. so 200-300,000 tonnes pa?

If the lab is right and they emit 40 times as much Nox.. then I am surprised we arent all dead.

The problem is these figures were calculated on the faked figures from car manufacturers (remember we dont know if its just VW at the moment) so we wont really know the actual impact.
 

Offline alancalverd

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As I understand the situation, VW "bluemotion" diesels use Adblue, just like many trucks, buses and other German cars, to reduce NOx emissions. Problem is that it adversely affects performance and is a pain  in the butt in places like the USA where diesel cars are uncommon so the consumer may not know where to buy the consumable or how to administer it. 

Worse, the damn car won't start if the Adblue tank is low. Annoying in Europe, bloody dangerous in Death Valley or Alaska.

So it's better to switch it off when it isn't needed (i.e. when you aren't being tested for emissions) and let the garage worry about topping up the tank every year or so (when they do the emission test!)  Alas, someone thinks this is cheating.

So the answer is that innumerable lives have been saved - or at least not endangered - by VW only switching on the Adblue during emission tests in the USA. 

Is it cheating? Not to my mind. My plane is specified to lift off in x meters of runway, and then you read the small print (it's actually quite large for aeroplanes) that "runway" = hard, dry concrete at sea level  with no wind, one (small female) pilot, no baggage, minimal instrumentation, oil and fuel.....and you add your own correction factors which can more than double the takeoff run in "normal" conditions of wet grass etc.... 
« Last Edit: 23/09/2015 17:02:57 by alancalverd »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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> Alas, someone thinks this is cheating.

Oh well, if it's only "cheating" that's all right then.

Sorry, but I don't live in Alaska or Death Valley, nor for that matter do people living in LA, and I don't see why I should potentially die just so you get slightly higher mpg, and because you can't be bothered to top a small tank up at least occasionally.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Problem seems to be that the Adblue tank doesn't have a level display, just a warning when it's about to expire - but the warning comes too late for many US customers who could well be stranded in a desert despite having a full tank of fuel.

No big deal with trucks, whose Adblue tanks are visible, or buses, which are serviced and topped up by mechanics every night.

Anyway your statstics for death certificates listing "air pollution" as cause of death will be interesting to read. The incidence of fatal bronchial disease has decreased by about 7% per year over the last decade in the UK, during which the number of diesel cars has risen from < 10% to > 50% of new sales. 
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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I think we've already established that these are badly designed engines, the fact they lack a level gauge doesn't surprise me.

That's probably going down because other fossil fuel engines have been lent on- notably coal power stations are being used a lot less, particularly in summertime.

That doesn't mean it shouldn't have gone down a lot more; it should be interesting to see what happens when they tighten this up.
« Last Edit: 23/09/2015 19:27:38 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline chris

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The Peugeot engines fitted to some editions of the Ford Focus model use blue juice serum to "regenerate" the diesel particulate filter (DPF). Other specifications actually shove diesel into the cylinder during the exhaust stroke and enrich the air in the manifold to start an inferno in the DPF to achieve the same effect. In both cases though, these processes add considerable expense and unreliability to what is otherwise an excellent engine. The DPF gauges when it needs "regenerating" by doing a pressure differential test across the filter. But if the sensors fail then the engine registers a DPF failure and the management system cuts off the fuel, stranding you. This happened to me. Stuck at the roadside because a piece of plastic sheared on a cheap sensor. The first garage I took it to (Marshalls Ford, Cambridge) tried to tell me it needed a new DPF (1200). I refused to believe the diagnosis - because they couldn't justify why it was the DPF and not the sensors - and instead paid another garage 200 to replace the sensors. Hey presto, my DPF worked like a charm again. These emissions control systems seem to be a license for some dealers and garages to behave like charlatans and prey on the insecurity and ignorance of their customers.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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... otherwise an excellent engine
I would question that, if it was all that excellent it wouldn't need all these bodges on it to make it not kill people so very much.
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These emissions control systems seem to be a license for some dealers and garages to behave like charlatans and prey on the insecurity and ignorance of their customers.
Also a license for VW to do that :(

Really internal combustion engines have turned out to be a bit of a sorry tale overall; horribly polluting, and taking large numbers of lives. Lead in petrol and particulates in diesel engines, and NOx with both of them.
 

Offline alancalverd

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I'm beginning to think this is all bunkum. There is an inherent problem when using an internal combustion engine in a road vehicle, because it can only reach maximum efficiency at one speed. No big deal in ships and planes, which cruise for hours or days at best speed, and trucks tend to have at least 14 gears so the diesel runs at 800 - 1200 rpm all the time, but not ideal for cars.

So you design an engine that will burn really efficiently at say 50 mph - i.e. the quoted fuel consumption speed, faster than average speed in the UK and the legal limit for most of the USA. Now you have to get rid of the noxious emissions at other speeds, so you install a sensor that squirts Adblue into the system whenever the demand is such that it wouldn't burn efficiently. Great, problem solved.

Except that a stringent emission test schedule would be designed to operate the engine at the point where it is producing most emissions. So when the chip works, the tester complains that you are cheating, and the solution suddenly becomes a problem!

As usual, good science has been overruled by bad politics. And if you think the US motor industry has nothing to do with politics, your naivete knows no bounds.   

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and taking large numbers of lives.
Any actual data to support this? Not "official estimates" but numbers from death certificates, please.
 

Offline ProjectSailor

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Alan makes the whole point..

Just think about the huge amounts of development cash goes into hitting these politically driven arguable overreactions. We all know that electric motors are way more efficient than the internal combustion engine when it comes to this application.. and for all the conspiracies about Oil companies holding electric cars back, is basically untrue.. Oil companies would be looking at more stability and a longer life span if demand were reduced..

If half the money that was spent this way was actually funneled towards developing more suitable batteries or other electrical storage devices we would have perfected them already.. there are plenty in the background just needing that little bit extra capital to make it a feasible solution.

But politics drives development and since pretty much every modern politician is more interested in the quick wins and vote winners, more interested in papering over the cracks rather than doing the real hard work of fixing what is going wrong in the first place. Are we surprised that we find this filtering down throughout society?
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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I'm beginning to think this is all bunkum. There is an inherent problem when using an internal combustion engine in a road vehicle, because it can only reach maximum efficiency at one speed. No big deal in ships and planes, which cruise for hours or days at best speed, and trucks tend to have at least 14 gears so the diesel runs at 800 - 1200 rpm all the time, but not ideal for cars.

So you design an engine that will burn really efficiently at say 50 mph - i.e. the quoted fuel consumption speed, faster than average speed in the UK and the legal limit for most of the USA. Now you have to get rid of the noxious emissions at other speeds, so you install a sensor that squirts Adblue into the system whenever the demand is such that it wouldn't burn efficiently. Great, problem solved.

Except that a stringent emission test schedule would be designed to operate the engine at the point where it is producing most emissions. So when the chip works, the tester complains that you are cheating, and the solution suddenly becomes a problem!

As usual, good science has been overruled by bad politics. And if you think the US motor industry has nothing to do with politics, your naivete knows no bounds.   
No, the same batch of testing showed that the BMW X5 actually consistently hit the standards, in real world conditions. This isn't just VW being hard-done by; this isn't some official conspiracy or screwup, and VW have already admitted they pointedly cheated on the test.

And fundamentally, it's the diesel engine that is at fault here; when diesel burns it's in swirling chaotic patterns as it gets injected, this generates large amounts of particulates that have to be dealt with, and it burns at high temperature and pressures which raises NOx. Petrol engines are by no means blameless, but the combustion process is much more tightly controlled. They don't generate the microparticles that are so injurious.

The BMW managed to finagle that away, but VW has been less successful. Partly this may be because they make smaller cars; it's harder to find a place for a big urea tank for example.

Big ships, you seem to be assuming that they're very clean. In reality, they're far dirtier, they can get away with it to some degree, because they're usually far from land. Aeroplanes are a smaller fraction of overall transportation than cars, so their emissions are somewhat less significant, and they don't use diesel engines because they're too heavy.

The other factor in all this would be the financial crisis; VW will have found themselves stuck back in 2009, the urea tank was too small, and they couldn't hit emissions. Few people were buying cars, and manufacturers were going bankrupt. They may not have had the cash for major redesigns, they needed cars in the showrooms pronto.
 

Offline ProjectSailor

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Particulates and high NOx are on the opposite ends of performance.

Not enough oxygen - more particulates low NOx
Too much oxygen - less particulates, high NOx..

Its all to do the completeness of combustion..

Turbo charging has drastically reduced the amount of particulates generated by the average diesel engine

Actually.. big ships are pretty good nowadays since new technology such as common rail has reduced the fuel system errors that typically caused the engines to run dirty. In fact the ports in the north atlantic force big ships to burn actual diesel rather than HFO in their waters and ports now, which is more expensive, but you dont get that HFO smell (emissions are actually not that much better to be honest, worse in fact wrt NOx) 
 

Offline chris

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What have VW actually gone on the record and admitted to doing? If the answer is as simple as Alan's synopsis, then their defence should be sound and there should be no need for the chief exec to resign...
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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The admission came directly to EPA, so far as I know it's not been a press release.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-24/how-smog-cops-busted-volkswagen-and-brought-down-its-ceo
 

Offline alancalverd

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What have VW actually gone on the record and admitted to doing? If the answer is as simple as Alan's synopsis, then their defence should be sound and there should be no need for the chief exec to resign...

If you were offered 60,000,000 euros to say "I didn't know what was going on"  and resign your job tomorrow, what would you do? "Need"? try "greed"!
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Anyway your statstics for death certificates listing "air pollution" as cause of death will be interesting to read. The incidence of fatal bronchial disease has decreased by about 7% per year over the last decade in the UK, during which the number of diesel cars has risen from < 10% to > 50% of new sales.

If the lab is right and they emit 40 times as much Nox.. then I am surprised we arent all dead.

The problem is these figures were calculated on the faked figures from car manufacturers (remember we dont know if its just VW at the moment) so we wont really know the actual impact.
FWIW:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34340301

Prof Alastair Lewis, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, University of York, says much public policy is based on the test results.

"The reasons the tests are conducted is ultimately so that air pollution can be managed appropriately," he says. "Emissions data from manufacturers is used by governments to simulate future air pollution levels and set policy."

It was predicated a decade a ago that, for example, NOx in city centres would be on a downward trend, he said.

"But this was based on cars emitting NOx at the rates suggested by the manufacturers' test data, and the reality is that NOx has effectively plateaued in most cities, and in many places is above the European air quality standards."

« Last Edit: 25/09/2015 00:16:16 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

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There is, I recall, in "A Doctor of the Old School" by T. Wilder which I once read in Woollcott's reader, a description of a doctor who practiced in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800's.

There is a passage in that story which was to the effect that Highland men generally didn't start to slow down until well into their 80's except for one chap who had spent several years among the southrons and pooped out in his 70's.

What I have seen of London - which was no more than it took to go from the train station from Hollyhead to the Eurotrain's station - didn't show me anything to doubt that passage at all.

Nevertheless it is not possible to kill yourself directly with a VW short of running a hose from the exhaust pipe.

I hope future generations will view the current air quality of London  as little better than the bad old days when London was called, "The Smoke".

The way to do that is to use 4th generation nuclear power to energize electric vehicles. I this, and, I that in the milk of all combustion engines.

In the central valley of California when you crack a chest and look at the lungs they are not pink. They are ditchwater black from breathing that diesel crud.
 

Offline alancalverd

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I hope future generations will view the current air quality of London  as little better than the bad old days when London was called, "The Smoke".

One of our best smogs in 1956 killed about 4000 people in 4 days in London alone. Currently, the rate of bronchitis death in the whole of England is about 9000 per year, principally among smokers and those who remember the 1950's. I think future generations will consider such a reduction as significant.     

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In the central valley of California when you crack a chest and look at the lungs they are not pink. They are ditchwater black from breathing that diesel crud.

Funny, that. There are hardly any diesel cars in California, or indeed anywhere in the USA. Must be the trucks and buses, but they are all made in the USA and therefore not subject to scandal.
« Last Edit: 25/09/2015 09:47:09 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

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Funny, that. There are hardly any diesel cars in California, or indeed anywhere in the USA. Must be the trucks and buses, but they are all made in the USA and therefore not subject to scandal!


Bwaaa - hah - hah -hah !

I just love it when foreigners talk thru their hat like that. They are just so damn cute!

Here is a picture of a gas pump [image # 1] - as are common in every California gas station. See the green nozzle socket labelled "Diesel Fuel # 2" Those are only there in the hopes that the diesel cars and pickups which don't exist in California may suddenly (May it please the noble Gods) magically appear.

Here is a description of the more commonly seen diesel pickup trucks in California [1.] You need something like this to haul your cabin cruiser to the lake or your 5th wheel toy hauler to the beach. [image # 2]

Then there are the diesel tractors, tomato harvesters [ image # 3 ], and etc. for the agribusiness of the central valley.

And that is why the peoples' lungs she's a turn black after you breathe the air in Fresno, Kern, King's and Tulare counties for a few years.

Then there are the coccidioidomycosis spores  like were eating the meninges of the poor pepper picker I shamed Merced county into treating until he decided he would rather go home to Mexico rather than get another intrathecal dose of Amphotericin.

So California's central valley is no place for sissy-boys. They just might get run over by a diesel pick-up truck( that doesn't exist) while the bozo driving it is texting his babe.

[1.]  http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1086531_diesel-pickup-trucks-from-chevy-ford-nissan-ram-ultimate-guide
 

Offline alancalverd

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Overall, diesels account for less than 3% of all cars sold in the U.S. That ratio could shift up to 8% or even as high as 10% by 2018, according to various projections.

Thus proving that Time magazine's business section is written by ignorant foreigners!
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

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"Ignorant foreigner", eh?

Well, I am sorry that I responded to your initial provocation. Sadder, but wiser, eh?

I am going to post a picture of a diesel suv and then a diesel pick-up truck. Both of them are common in California. Not even Time magazine would think they are "cars".

Are you sure you want to keep following me around pulling this nonsense again , Hoss? I suggest that you get a nice tall glass of milk and think it over. Try a hobby or go watch the "footsie". Whatever it takes to get beyond the rancor which passed between us over in that GSCE dogfight. That sort of thing is thoughtless, unfortunate, and inconsiderate to others who aren't interested in seeing this forum turned into a Jerry Springer show....again.....like me.

If I have addressed you directly since then it was a regrettable and inadvertent mistake. I promise not to do it in the future and I would be deeply obliged if you could follow my example.
« Last Edit: 25/09/2015 12:52:34 by Pecos_Bill »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Funny, that. There are hardly any diesel cars in California, or indeed anywhere in the USA. Must be the trucks and buses, but they are all made in the USA and therefore not subject to scandal!


Bwaaa - hah - hah -hah !

I just love it when foreigners talk thru their hat like that. They are just so damn cute!

Here is a picture of a gas pump [image # 1] - as are common in every California gas station. See the green nozzle socket labelled "Diesel Fuel # 2" Those are only there in the hopes that the diesel cars and pickups which don't exist in California may suddenly (May it please the noble Gods) magically appear.

Here is a description of the more commonly seen diesel pickup trucks in California [1.] You need something like this to haul your cabin cruiser to the lake or your 5th wheel toy hauler to the beach. [image # 2]

Then there are the diesel tractors, tomato harvesters [ image # 3 ], and etc. for the agribusiness of the central valley.

And that is why the peoples' lungs she's a turn black after you breathe the air in Fresno, Kern, King's and Tulare counties for a few years.

Then there are the coccidioidomycosis spores  like were eating the meninges of the poor pepper picker I shamed Merced county into treating until he decided he would rather go home to Mexico rather than get another intrathecal dose of Amphotericin.

So California's central valley is no place for sissy-boys. They just might get run over by a diesel pick-up truck( that doesn't exist) while the bozo driving it is texting his babe.

[1.]  http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1086531_diesel-pickup-trucks-from-chevy-ford-nissan-ram-ultimate-guide

In response to the claim that there are hardly any diesel cars in California you have show some pictures of things that use diesel, but are not cars (for example, because they are trucks) and also shown the pumps that let people buy fuel for them.

But you don't seem to have addressed the issue of cars in CA that use diesel.
Anyway, here's a list of 6000 or so diesel cars for sale in LA
http://www.autoblog.com/used-list/location-Los+Angeles+CA/fuel-Diesel

and here's a list of 249000 cars for sale that are not specifically diesel.
http://www.autoblog.com/used-list/location-los+angeles

All of which rather strongly suggests  that, at least as far as the  2nd hand market is concerned, only about 2.5% of cars there are diesel.
 
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Nobody is dumb enough to claim there's no diesel powered trucks in LA.

The thing is though, the scandal specifically affects cars, and is partly because there's nowhere much to put an adblue tank in the car, so VW were trying to achieve the same affect without the tank... and apparently failing.
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

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Neither Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease nor Oat cell carcinoma of the lung give a lousy pinch of sour rat toe-jam whether the particulate matter which lets them kill people come from a VW, a John Deere tractor, or an SUV.

Premature death is death. You soon come to realize that when you are hooking them up to the morphine drip for the first night of their eternal rest.

That may sound crude to you, but I believe it calls for pregnant speech - and not fossicking about with nonsense -- considering the circumstances.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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It doesn't sound crude to me, it just sounds like you didn't read or understand my post.
 

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