'Green Routing' Can Cut Car Emissions Without Significantly Slowing Travel Time, Buffalo Study FindDecember 15, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The path of least emissions may not always be the fastest way to drive somewhere. But according to new research from the University at Buffalo, it's possible for drivers to cut their tailpipe emissions without significantly slowing travel time.
In detailed, computer simulations of traffic in Upstate New York's Buffalo Niagara region, UB researchers Adel Sadek and Liya Guo found that green routing could reduce overall emissions of carbon monoxide by 27 percent for area drivers, while increasing the length of trips by an average of just 11 percent.
In many cases, simple changes yielded great gains.
Funneling cars along surface streets instead of freeways helped to limit fuel consumption, for instance. Intelligently targeting travelers was another strategy that worked: Rerouting just one fifth of drivers -- those who would benefit most from a new path -- reduced regional emissions by about 20 percent.
Sadek, a transportation systems expert, says one reason green routing is appealing is because it's a strategy that consumers and transportation agencies could start using today.
"We're not talking about replacing all vehicles with hybrid cars or transforming to a hydrogen-fuel economy -- that would take time to implement," said Sadek, an associate professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering. "But this idea, green routing, we could implement it now."
In the near future, GPS navigation systems and online maps could play an important role in promoting green routing, Sadek said. Specifically, these systems and programs could use transportation research to give drivers the option to choose an environmentally friendly route instead of the shortest route.
Sadek and Guo, a PhD candidate, presented their research on green routing at the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems in October.
In the UB study on green routing, the researchers tied together two computer models commonly known as "MOVES" and "TRANSIMS."
The Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES), created by the Environmental Protection Agency, estimates emissions. The Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS) simulates traffic in great detail, taking into account information including the location and pattern of signals; the grade of the road; and the trips people take at different times of day.
After incorporating Buffalo-specific data into TRANSIMS, Sadek and Guo ran a number of simulations, rerouting travelers in new ways each time.
After running the models numerous times, the researchers reached a "green-user equilibrium" -- a traffic pattern where all drivers are traveling along optimal routes. With the system in equilibrium, moving a commuter from one path to another would increase a user's overall emissions by creating more congestion or sparking another problem.
The simulations were part of a broader study Sadek is conducting on evaluating the likely environmental benefits of green routing in the region. His project is one of seven that the U.S. Department of Transportation has funded through a Broad Agency Announcement that aims to leverage intelligent transportation systems to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
The University at Buffalo
Related Emissions Current Events and Emissions News Articles
Better combustion for power generation
In the United States, the use of natural gas for electricity generation continues to grow. The driving forces behind this development?
Arctic Ocean methane does not reach the atmosphere
250 methane flares release the climate gas methane from the seabed and into the Arctic Ocean.
Expert urges voluntary family planning to mitigate climate change
With climate change already close to an irreversible tipping point, urgent action is needed to reduce not only our mean (carbon) footprints but also the "number of feet" - that is, the growing population either already creating large footprints or aspiring to do so, argues a leading physician and environmentalist in The BMJ today.
Spring snow a no-go?
Spring snowpack, relied on by ski resorts and water managers throughout the Western United States, may be more vulnerable to a warming climate in coming decades, according to a new University of Utah study.
Footprints of baby planets in a gas disk
A new analysis of the ALMA data for a young star HL Tauri provides yet more firm evidence of baby planets around the star. Researchers uncovered two gaps in the gas disk around HL Tauri.
OU astrophysicists detect most luminous diffuse gamma-ray emission from Arp 220
A University of Oklahoma team has detected for the first time the most luminous gamma-ray emission from a galaxy--the merging galaxy Arp 220 is the nearest ultraluminous infrared galaxy to Earth, and it reveals the hidden extreme energetic processes in galaxies.
Researchers find higher than expected carbon emissions from inland waterways
Washington State University researchers have found that greenhouse-gas emissions from lakes and inland waterways may be as much as 45 percent greater than previously thought.
Can legumes solve environmental issues?
It's a win-win situation for the environment and the economy when it comes to introducing legumes into agricultural systems, says new research published in Frontiers in Plant Science, carried out by an international team of scientists as part of the European Union project, Legume Futures.
Global data shows inverse relationship, shift in human use of fire
Humans use fire for heating, cooking, managing lands and, more recently, fueling industrial processes. Now, research from the University of Colorado has found that these various means of using fire are inversely related to one another, providing new insight into how people are changing the face of fire.
Natural regeneration of tropical forests helps global climate mitigation and forest restoration
Climate scientists have long recognized the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration -- capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
More Emissions Current Events and Emissions News Articles