This article gives a brief historical sketch of measures enacted in the past twenty years in an effort to control automobile emissions that are polluting the environment and endangering the public's health. 1968 was the first year in which automobile manufacturers were required to meet certain emission control standards. In 1970, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency consolidated the numerous federal agencies concerned with environmental problems. One way in which the EPA has sought to keep automotive pollution at a minimum is to require annual inspection of all motor vehicles. The concern for public health has led to the adoption of ambient air quality standards with strict limits on CO levels. Achieving these standards through emission controls will result in higher priced automobiles that are also costlier to maintain, and a reduction in fuel economy. Which of these concerns - public health or economical vehicles - takes priority is a continuing argument. Statistics show that fuel economy has decreased 22 percent since emission controls were first required in 1968. Vehicle weight is also an important contributing factor in reduced fuel economy and the recent trend in the U.S. is to produce smaller, lightweight cars to combat this problem. The creation of the catalytic converter was thought at first to be the perfect solution to this dilemma since it cut down on pollutants while still maintaining fuel economy. However, it has been found that the converter produces additional pollutants, unacceptable by EPA standards, although Detroit had perfected the use of it. The stratified-charge engine is another option that has not yet been fully developed, but may prove to be acceptable. Because the struggle between emission controls and fuel economy goes on, the future of the internal combustion engine seems secure. The EPA will probably relax its standards, and Detroit will delay research until it is too late. The two forces must decide to work together for the future.

  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Washington, Seattle

    Office of the Dean of Engineering, 14 Loew Hall
    Seattle, WA  United States  98195
  • Authors:
    • Douthwaite, G K
    • Serril, D
  • Publication Date: 1975-4

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 23-28
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00096894
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 10 1975 12:00AM