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Discussion > VW Notice of Violation/In Use Compliance case

I expect the Regulators, who appear completely ineffective in this Engineering disaster, will plead that they are Political Scientists and have little understanding of Physics, Chemistry and Economics. They don't seem very aware of human nature either, but then it does take one to know one.

Once sensible Engineers are brainwashed into thinking that CO2 is the evil gas that will destroy all Life on Earth and acquiesce in many of the current political fads of today, and they have therefore had to change their thinking from aspiring to the truth, trying to understand what reality is and how we can know when we have found that truth, to following political dogma defined by the Scientifically ignorant, how do you expect them to know when to blow the whistle on anything else that is suspicious, and belongs on the other side of sanity, logic, correctness and validity?

It is a slippery slope.

Sep 24, 2015 at 2:59 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

A very good article, but the end, quoted, is a gem:
It's an inconvenient truth, but the global warming zealots are to blame for the deadly diesel fiasco

"The pity is that mainstream media such as the all-powerful BBC are themselves cowed and meekly quiescent, so that a highly intelligent and well-informed climate-change sceptic such as the former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson is virtually excluded from the airwaves.

Volkswagen has emerged from this story as a devious and untrustworthy conglomerate. But the biggest lesson of this debacle is that successive British governments have sacrificed the interests of ordinary citizens as they have caved in to the demands of a dangerous bunch of zealots."

The Alarmists certainly created the culture for it to blossom. After the catastrophe of the Euro and Schengen, this is the third Euro-disaster to befall us.

Sep 24, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Jamesp, yes! Google Mercedes elk test

SandyS, I would be very happy to buy a cheap VW Diesel. Co-incidentally, my petrol VW has had slight problems with electronic sensors etc, causing it to burn more petrol. It has cost me money to fix a problem, to save money, created by legislation, to save a perfectly healthy polar bear. The Garage recommended a good burn up on the motorway before the MOT...... also known as an Italian Tune-Up.

Stewgreen, if only all Green claims were as reliable as Volkswagen's

michael hart, agreed, what is NOx anyway? Is it just another noxious abbreviation?
Emergency generators are to be found in Government Departments and hospitals. Where would more NOx damage be noticed?

Get ready for new TV commercials, from solicitors wanting to earn fees from claiming compensation, for losses you never knew about. The millions involved, will be included as part of the toxic Green economy success story.

Sep 24, 2015 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

michael hart, chemists, anyone?

What produces NOx?

Would you get more, less or none, burning chip fat in your diesel car? Or Green bus?

Sep 24, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

To be fair, the pressure to switch from petrol to diesel was a round long before global warming became an issue. Back in the 70s and 80s France, Belgium and a few others skewed fuel prices to push people to buy diesel. This was in response to the oil crisis and was aimed at reducing oil consumption.
Also a bit of scepticism is in order about the impact on public health, imho. Taking France as an example, the country has been almost entirely diesel for several decades - and those early engines were far dirtier than modern units. If the health consequences are so dire, they should have been very apparent by now.

Sep 24, 2015 at 6:51 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

michael hart, chemists, anyone?

What produces NOx?

Would you get more, less or none, burning chip fat in your diesel car? Or Green bus?
Sep 24, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I *imagine* that oxides of nitrogen are the result of having nitrogen and oxygen (ie air) present in the cylinders as the fuel is burnt and the higher compression ratio of diesels (compared with petrol engines) results in higher temperatures at the moment of combustion, producing more NOx's than petrol engines. I think it is the high compression ratio of diesels that results in their greater efficiency (energy out, relative to fuel consumed) relative to petrol engines.

I *imagine* that the nature of the fuel (diesel fuel from the pump, old chip oil or whatever) would make very little difference.

I rember going down a coal mine years ago and the exhausts from the diesel engined locomotives was bubbled through water to dissolve the oxides of nitrogen so that the air in the mine was left more or less breathable.

The French Controle Technique test involves measuring something in the exhaust gases - not sure what. My 20-year old Volvo 2.4 turbocharged diesel (engine by Audi) always passes without problem although I do take the precaution of running it along the motorway at 130 km/hr on its way to the test. If I put it in second gear and floor the accelerator, the first time I do it, it leaves an impressive cloud of black smoke in its trail. But I had always assumed that was merely accumulated soot being blown out of the exhaust system.

Sep 24, 2015 at 6:57 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Going back to the start, I do think we should be shocked by this sort of cheating, not least because particulates are killing us. Not only are we in danger, way back in the day, the government paid billions to vehicle manufacturers to build carbon free or low carbon engines, if they decided that killing us was the only way to achieve that target then I want a lawyer ^.^

Sep 24, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Registered CommenterDung

A starting point for info on emission control technology:

Sep 24, 2015 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Golf Charlie,
This is my amateur understanding: the key characteristic of diesels is that they run with much higher air:fuel ratios. This is due to the compression-ignition cycle in which the fuel will always burn, no matter how lean the mixture.
Petrol engines, by contrast, need the right ratio of fuel to air (the "stoichiometric" ratio) for combustion to take place. If the ratio is too low - too lean - the engine will not run. Hence the far superior economy of diesels in part-load and idling conditions.
Consequently far more air passes through a diesel than a petrol engine for equivalent outputs. As that air is 80% Nitrogen, far more of it is oxidised to NO, N2O, NO2, etc..
Also diesels run at higher pressures and temperatures. I am not sure but I suspect that will tend to encourage the formation of NOx.
HTH - maybe there's an expert around?

Sep 24, 2015 at 7:05 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

GolfCharlie, the short answer is that NOx just means "Oxides of Nitrogen".

Their chemistry is generally complex. Depending on conditions in your body/atmosphere/car engine, you might start with one, and end up with many others and their reaction products. So it is often easier to lump them all together as a group. For the most part, when considering genuine pollution, I have no problems with this approach.

Sep 24, 2015 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin A, essentially, yes.

Even more than many things in the climate system, Nitrogen (N2) chemistry is very far from equilibrium. The slowness to ever approach equilibrium in chemical reaction with Oxygen, or anything else, is actually the stand-out feature of N2 chemistry. So far from equilibrium, and so slow, that the concept of equilibrium is often essentially useless or misleading.

Petrol/diesel engines briefly change the rate and direction of reactions involving Nitrogen. The result is generally not a good thing for humans (unless you are blowing your drag-racing engine with nitrous oxide, N2O).

Sep 24, 2015 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

NOx thanks gentlemen. I have fixed a fair few yacht diesel engines, and have a reasonable understanding of diesels, but not electronic chip controls on cars, or emissions except from the blast of visible black smoke out of the blunty end, normally associated with slamming it into full astern just before the crash in a harbour/marina. The noise, plus black smoke normally gives a few seconds for everyone else to watch what happens next.....

If NOx can be produced by high temperature chip fat, are people who work in chippies at risk? Or American burger restaurants? Should we all have NOx meters in our kitchens before a fry up?

I heard a solicitor on BBC Radio 2 salivating over compensation claims for NOx. CO2 seems pretty harmless to animal life in 10x atmospheric concentrations, and plants love it. As a former scuba diver, instructor etc I have experienced nitrogen narcosis, but never the bends or burst lung. Is NOx now going to be found to be more toxic than cyanide, for the financial benefit of lawyers?

Until last week, who had suffered a financial or medical loss over VW? The potential consequential "losses" are limitless in the eyes of compensation lawyers.

Sep 24, 2015 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC, as with most substances deemed harmful or toxic, the devil is in the dosage.

More complexity, if you are interested:
It was only as recently as 1998 that The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was, rightfully, awarded to researchers in the US for their discoveries that Nitric Oxide (NO) is not only produced in the human body, but that it is indispensable for many important cellular biochemical signalling events. Nitric oxide was proclaimed “Molecule of the Year” in 1992. Given what was thought to be known about NO chemistry and toxicity at the time, much of this was stunning to medicine. The long used, but poorly understood, drugs of nitroglycerine and amyl nitrite are precursors to the formation of NO. Viagra also works by stimulating nitric oxide pathways.

Other dietary nitrites may have significant functions. You also have symbiotic bacteria in your salivary glands which, possibly uniquely in the human body, convert less reactive nitrates in your diet to the more reactive nitrites, and thus a source of NO which may possibly be in limited supply when needed in the digestive tract. As recently as ~2009 I was still trying to get to grips with some of this biochemistry in cardiology. Complex stuff, nitrogen oxide chemistry.

Sep 25, 2015 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart, thank you. I am interested. Chemistry was not a favourite subject at school, but the 'O' level knowledge/understanding gained, has been been very useful since.

The concept of NOx, was just too conveniently close to 'noxious', yet made no sense chemically. The way CO2 is portrayed, it should have the right to sue for malicious defamation. I have lost all faith in official GreenBlob health warnings about anything.

If invented today, the 'Snap, Crackle and Pop' of Rice Krispies would probably require a Health and Safety risk assement to make, and that is before you add milk and sugar, and try to ingest it.

Sep 25, 2015 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Lightning plays a minor part in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen. The extreme heat of a lightning flash causes nitrogen to combine with oxygen of the air to form nitrogen oxides. The oxides combine with moisture in the air. The fixed nitrogen is carried by rain to the earth, where, in the form of nitrates, it is used by plants. most areas probably receive no more than 20 lb nitrogen/acre per year from this source. . What, if anything, is the difference between lightening and diesel engines with regard to fertilising the soil?

France probably has as much of a problem from wood burning as diesel cars. I may be wrong but wood fires are permissible in Paris, no clean Air Act. and on still winter days here in rural Limousin there is a haze of wood smoke around all groups of dwellings. We live close to the main route from Portugal to Germany with thousands of lorries per week passing through. I have never noticed the smell of diesel fumes being stronger than wood smoke at those times.

Sep 25, 2015 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Good comment over on WUWT article about researchers new ice free Earth catastrophe where a scientist Andy Aschwanden says "We did a lot of work under the hood to make this model work.”
The commenter replies : "VW did a lot of work under the hood in order to pass EPA tests."

..So is it that like VW ..Typical alarmist researchers probably do a lot of "fiddling under the hood" to get results compliant with the Climate Catastrophe narrative ?

Sep 25, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Hi folks

When this VW story came up on an economics blog I frequent, I came over here to find the facts on NOx emissions, because this is a blog with a focus on empirical data. The fact that this discussion so far is based on anecdotes is surprising, so I thought I would try to track down some emissions data. It was surprisingly difficult.

Here is a graph for the UK:

and here is the Pacific Southwest of the USA, which includes the heavily polluted Los Angeles mega-city:

and here is the USA

All these graphs show steep declines in NOx emissions, despite the trickery of VW. It could be that consumer diesel engines account for a very small part of the total NOx emissions. Perhaps it might be worthwhile trying to find any French data, since diesel cars have been predominant there for many years. Given that France also burns much less coal than either the UK or USA, it could well be that emissions of NOx show a less pronounced downward trend.

I have heard it said that particulates in diesel exhaust are a far greater health hazard. However, in the last 10 or so years, the filtering of particulates has improved beyond measure, in consumer vehicles at least. I have no idea whether it applies to buses and trucks.

However, this fuss appears to be about NOx. And the trends appear to be declining fast, at least in USA and UK.

Sep 25, 2015 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

To build on Martin A's excellent explanations of the chemistry involved:

The higher the temperature, the more the balance of the chemical equation:

xN2 + yO2 <-> zNO + wNO2

tends toward the right hand side, producing the nitrogen oxides NO (nitric oxide) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), collectively NOx. (Note the nitrous oxide, N2O, is not a concern here.) At ambient temperatures, the balance is virtually entirely to the left hand side.

Any time you have combustion, you have temperatures high enough to produce significant NOx. If the gases can cool gradually, virtually all of the NOx will convert back to N2 and O2 as it cools. However, if it cools suddenly, as in the expanding piston of an internal combustion engine, this won't be the case. This is because the reaction to convert back requires a high-energy intermediate state to break the bonds, and this energy level is far less likely to be reached at ambient temperatures. So instead of a typical time to convert back of seconds, it can be days, leading to what we call "pollution".

This phenomenon is one of the chief problems with internal combustion engines, although I would wager that not one in a thousand of those calling IC engines "evil" understands this.

Diesel engines, with their higher compression ratios than Otto (a.k.a. petrol, gasoline, spark) engines, leading to higher combustion temperatures, have an inherently worse NOx problem than Otto engines. But of course, their higher temperatures also give higher thermodynamic efficiency and mileage.

Incidentally, the USA's stricter NOx standards than Europe's mean that US Otto engines run at lower compression ratios and get reduced mileage (~10% lower from what I can tell) compared to their European equivalents.

Enough for now -- hope to post more soon.

Sep 25, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

' I think it is the high compression ratio of diesels that results in their
greater efficiency (energy out, relative to fuel consumed) relative to petrol

I thought the main difference was that diesel had about 10+ % more energy in it than petrol? or is it more efficient at burning it too on top of that?

Sep 26, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Thank you to everyone on this thread. A rational exchange of views on the relative merits of diesel.

Diogenes, yes I agree about 'particulates' and their perceived threat. But rather like 'NOx', we are all guilty of using the term, without knowing the source of the perceived threat. Certainly wearing a cheap dust mask will show staining in use, and is a good propaganda tool.

If NOx levels are declining, where else is/was the NOx coming from?

A hot diesel engine works more efficiently than a cool one. Hence, I believe why diesel cars in the 80's/90's had a bit of cooking foil over the radiator grille. Electronic chip control allows an engine better control over its temperature than a simple thermostat on coolant flow, and engine fan. Is this correct or urban myth?

Interested to know more, from so many different viewpoints!

Sep 26, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

DEFRA offer the following explanations of trends since 1970:

Increases in road traffic account for the steep climb in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions between 1984 and 1989, and road transport still accounts for just under one third of total NOx emissions. Catalytic converters and stricter emission regulations have resulted in a strong downward trend since 1990. Emissions from
power stations have also reduced significantly. The recent decrease in NOx emissions between 2012 and 2013 was due to similar reasons to those detailed for SO2.

The recent decrease in SO2 emissions between 2012 and 2013 was due to a reduction in the market price of natural gas leading to less coal being used for power generation. Also, some coal-powered Power Stations reached the end of their working lifetime and were decommissioned, reducing the overall coalburning capacity.

I strongly suspect that consumer diesel engines are not responsible for very much NOx. Tractors and other commercial vehicles are probably greater emitters, as are coal-fired power stations, which is why I would be interested in any graphs of French data, given that diesel engine penetration there is high and there are few coal-burning power stations.

Sep 26, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I thought the main difference was that diesel had about 10+ % more energy in it than petrol? or is it more efficient at burning it too on top of that?

Sep 26, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Rob - the reference you pointed to says:

Gasoline contains about 34.6 megajoules per litre (MJ/l)while diesel contains about 38.6 megajoules per litre. This gives a higher power to diesel.

However the mpg of my diesel Volvo 940 is about 50% better than my previous petrol 940 or my current petrol V90, suggesting it's not just the slightly higher energy content of the fuel

Sep 26, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Diogenes, interesting stuff from DEFRA.

Do they still attribute the rise in global average temperatures to CO2, despite no rise in recent temperatures, to match the continuing rise in CO2?

My trust in Government approved statistics and factual evidence does show negative correlation with the amount released.

The car industry could scrap diesel tomorrow, without losing too much. Owners of cars would see more depreciation. The road transport industry, and all the shoppers it supplies would be stuffed

Sep 26, 2015 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"However the mpg of my diesel Volvo 940 is about 50% better than my previous petrol 940 or my current petrol V90, suggesting it's not just the slightly higher energy content of the fuel"

Thanks for that Martin, I never realised diesel had 50% better MPG than petrol, though I have never learnt to drive.

Sep 26, 2015 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Rob Burton and Martin A

Martin, how do your actual mpg figures compare with claimed mpg?

It seems that diesel claimed mpg is a reasonable reflection of actual. Petrol actual mpg is never anywhere near claimed.

Have manufacturers been rigging their claimed petrol mpg, for far more years than rigging diesel emissions?

The only petrol car I ever drove which exceeded its claimed mpg, involved hundreds of miles a week on motorways during rush hour. It could dawdle along from 20mph upto 70+ in 5th gear. I drove at less than 50mph, in 5th for much of my 40+k per annum in a 'sporty' 2l 5 dr hatch back, and got over 45mpg on average. If I did the same now in a decent diesel, I think 65+mpg would be achievable, which tallies roughly with Martin A's figures.

Sep 27, 2015 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie