SAE Collaborates on Clean Cars Project

SAE is coordinating the automotive viewpoint of the 18-month project to identify technologies to reduce storm-water impacts in Puget Sound related to vehicle fluid leaks.

One of many visuals created by Puget Sound area environmental groups to remind residents of automotive-related runoff pollution.

In early 2016, the Washington State Department of Ecology issued a request for proposals for the Puget Sound Clean Cars Stormwater Partnership, a collaborative research project concerning vehicle fluid leaks and storm water impacts. Environmental and risk sciences consulting firm Gradient and SAE International submitted a joint proposal.

Washington State Department of Ecology awarded a contract to Gradient, based on their technical expertise in environmental and human health hazard and risk assessment. They, in turn, contracted SAE International based on its automotive engineering expertise. The project got underway this past January.

“SAE’s role is to help coordinate an automotive viewpoint for this project,” explained Gary Pollak, Program Manager – Technical Projects, SAE International Standards Development. “The project essentially is looking at potential pollution sources that are caused by vehicles along with possible mitigation strategies.”

With this project, Pollak said they are looking at chemical substances that leak from vehicles during operation. For example, the leak of fluids containing potentially harmful chemicals or anything that comes off a vehicle that is then washed off the roadway and possibly into a storm water collection area.

SAE is coordinating the 18-month project and will gather experts, along with Gradient, in areas such as government, research and industrial sectors. The experts will “look at vehicle leakage and vehicle seals, and see what kind of technology is out there,” Pollak told Automotive Engineering. “They will look at the current state of the art.”

The primary objective of this collaboration being to identify technologies to reduce storm-water impacts associated with automotive vehicle fluid leaks in the State of Washington.

To get started on the work, an introductory webinar was held for the Clean Cars project in early March to identify participants. An initial group of Working Group members and stakeholders for the project were identified from the webinar participants. Quarterly meetings for the project were planned to start in April. Pollak said the project will still accommodate additional qualified Working Group members or stakeholder members as the project moves forward.

To meet the objective of the project, the panel of experts convened for the Clean Cars project will work together to research and identify the following:

  • Environmental and human health impacts associated with automotive fluid leaks
  • Vehicle leak data (sources of leaks, frequency and volume of leaks, etc.) to identify potential management options
  • Current automotive design and maintenance efforts
  • Vehicle design efforts related to preventing vehicle leaks
  • Innovative technologies and onboard diagnostics
  • Potential policy options and incentives to accelerate efforts to reduce vehicle leaks using automotive technologies
  • Drivers and barriers to preventing vehicle leaks using automotive technologies
  • Safer chemical alternatives

This project is an example of SAE’s Cooperative Research Program (CRP)—a pathway for joint venture research projects where two or more organizations pool their resources to study a pre-competitive technical area and share in the results.

The Clean Cars project, which is to continue through June 2018, will result in the publication of a written research report that will document findings, recommendations and research needs related to automotive fluid leak reduction technology. In addition, there will be a presentation of the findings of the report to the Washington State Department of Ecology as well as at a future SAE meeting.

Those interested in participating in this project please contact Gary Pollak (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Keith Wilson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information.

Jeff Bleiel contributed to this article.