Improving Environmental Standards


An engine connected to a dynamometer at UCR Ce-CERT. Photos by Ryan Gibson.

An engine connected to a dynamometer at UCR Ce-CERT. Photos by Ryan Gibson.

Derrick Varnes is a twenty-two-year-old  electrical engineering major with the intent to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona’s engineering program in the spring of 2020. Alongside him, Daniel Soto is a twenty-year-old civil engineering major that expressed interest in entering the field of structural engineering. Soto wants to work for a city government before utilizing his degree in engineering in the private sector. Soto plans on transferring to either the University of California, Los Angeles or the University of California, San Diego after spending one more year at Chaffey College. These two Chaffey College interns have worked side by side throughout the entirety of the UCR Bourns/CE-CERT internship program this summer.

A dynamometer hooked up to an engine for emissions testing.

A dynamometer hooked up to an engine for emissions testing.

Every vehicle and every engine is put through an emissions test before hitting the road. These tests are analyzed, compiled and used to evaluate the environmental impact that subject will have. These tests are conducted at places similar to UCR Bourns/C-Cert. The Bourns College of Engineering, Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) is the largest research facility at the University of California Riverside. According to their mission statement, the facility’s goal is “to be a 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.” The group works to “address society’s most pressing environmental challenges in air quality, climate change, energy and transportation.”

A vehicle hooked up to a dynamometer at UCR Ce-CERT.

A vehicle hooked up to a dynamometer at UCR Ce-CERT.

Vehicles are placed on a dynamometer, more commonly known as a “dyno.” The dynamometer is essentially a vehicle treadmill used to keep the subject in place while testing equipment is hooked up to the tailpipes. dynamometers are hooked up to their own supercomputer that reads, records and summarizes the emissions of the subject vehicle. The emissions test record the output levels of oxides, carbon, and other emissions that each vehicle emits during a period of time.

“The oxide output and the carbon output goes into this whole graph that shows the entirety of the different oxide and carbon outputs and all the different percentages of the various emissions from whichever engine or vehicle,” said Varnes, “They are also testing the RPM output of each subject and the horsepower of the subject to compare and contrast.” The researchers at Ce-Cert use this data in a report every year to analyze each producer’s  environmental impact and compare it to that of their past products. In doing this, the facility is able to regulate the emissions of different vehicles in order to ensure our environmental standards continue to improve alongside our technological advances as a society.