2007 Progress Report: Texas Joint Center for Air Quality

EPA Grant Number: X832317
Center: Texas Joint Center for Air Quality
Center Director: Hitchcock, David
Title: Texas Joint Center for Air Quality
Investigators: Hitchcock, David , Allen, David T.
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through August 31, 2008
Project Period Covered by this Report: September 1, 2006 through August 31,2007
Project Amount: $969,300
RFA: Targeted Research Center (2004) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research


The Joint Center work consists of several components, including the Transportation and Air Quality Forum (TAQF), Texas Air Quality Study II (TexAQS II) tasks, and five subawards for transportation research projects. These components are in various stages of progress. Joint Center activities have included formation of an Advisory Committee, interaction with regional air quality decision processes in target regions (Houston andDallas/Fort Worth), and communications with partner organizations.


In pursuit of the Center's objectives, the overall goal of the Center is to further the understanding of air quality phenomena affecting Texas urban areas through field studies and the analysis of promising solutions. Toward this goal, the Center will address the following objectives:

  • To identify candidate transportation practices, technologies and control measures
  • To develop and apply methods and criteria for determining the regional fit of transportation options
  • To assess the effects of selected transportation options on air quality
  • To test or demonstrate promising transportation options
  • To assess the extent of ozone and fine particulate matter transport
  • To characterize air pollution meteorology in all seasons
  • To refine and evaluate inventories of ozone precursors and fine particulates
  • To develop and improve simulation tools
  • To communicate results to researchers and policymakers

Progress Summary:

During the reporting period, the TAQF continues to focus primarily on identification and review of transportation/air quality options that were included in SIP preparations in the Houston and DFW regions. The objective has been to create a searchable database of such options that can be more readily assessed than current regional decision processes allow. The secondary focus has been the identification of promising control measures that may fail to meet SIP criteria, but that provide air quality benefits. TAQF has also assembled and examined transportation/air quality computer models that might be used more widely in regional decision processes. The primary conceptual difficulty identified during the reporting period remains the lack of consistent or comparable quantitative or qualitative information on transportation/air quality options. Over 1,000 options were identified as part of the target regions’ decision processes. More than 50 variables were identified in considering a database structure for analyzing these options; most variables have not be quantified in the research and studies examined. The aims of the project have not changed. However, the challenges of developing an alternative process are substantial and must be considered as work continues. Staff has met with regional transportation/air quality staff and other researchers to consider this challenge. Staff has participated in mobile source discussions of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, which is focused on air quality research and policies in the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth nonattainment areas.
On applied activities, the Joint Center has been working with end users and technology providers to establish the Advanced Technology Truck Coalition of Texas (ATTCoT). The coalition’s aim is to accelerate the deployment of hybrid truck technologies as an emission reducing strategy for the Texas truck fleet. Subaward projects are proceeding as described below.
Status of Subawards
  • The TexAQS II project (University of Texas at Austin – UT): This project is complete.
  • MOBILE 6 High Speed Emission Rates (Texas Transportation Institute, TexasA&M – TTI): This project is complete.
  • Marine Vessel Use of Bio-Fuel (Texas A&M Galveston – TAMUG): This project is 50% complete (through the period of this report) after experiencing delays in conducting the requisite emissions testing of bio-diesel fueled marine engines. The project has acquired a detailed dataset from the U.S. Coast Guard on marine vessel movement in area waterways. These are sufficiently detailed to model emissions once emission testing is complete. The project work plan and schedule are being reviewed for completion by the end of August, 2008.
  • Photocatalytic Coating on Road Pavements/Structures for NOx Abatement (Lamar University): This project is 90% complete (through the period of this report – to be completed by August 30, 2008).
  • Effects of Atmospheric Aging on Ozone, Secondary Aerosol and Particulate Matter and Air Toxics (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill): Work on this project had just begun (through the period of this report – to be completed by June 30, 2008).
  • MOBILE6 CO and NOx emissions over/under estimation (The University of Texas at Austin): Work on this project had just begun (through the period of this report – to be completed by June 30, 2008).
(2) Results to Date
The TAQF has conducted reviews of SIP transportation control measure analyses in target regions (Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth areas). These reviews found a lack of quantitative or qualitative measures for most of the decision variables identified. This supports the need for alternative methods or alternative processes for informing regional processes for transportation/air quality decisionmaking. A major TAQF objective is to develop an alternative region-based method, but the challenge of analyzing hundreds of options without such comparative information presents a substantial barrier for any data driven method, particularly if it is intended to be region specific. Several publicly challenge.
TexAQS II: The University of Texas, as part of the overall Texas Air Quality Study II, conducted seasonal modeling on transport of pollutants, made improvements to emissions inventories (fine particulates primarily), and helped assimilate satellite data into air quality modeling.
MOBILE 6 High Speed Emission Rates: The study produced a wide range of results including drive cycles, measured emissions rates using PEMS equipment, modeled emissions rates using MOBILE6, regression models for estimating emissions, and expansion curves to extend MOBILE6 rates to speeds above 65 mph. The findings from the study will enable transportation and air quality planners to more reliably assess impacts associated with high-speed operations already existing on freeways and tollways as well as facilities scheduled for inclusion in metropolitan transportation plans (MTPs) in the near future.
Marine Vessel Use of Bio-Fuel: Detailed marine vessel movement data were collected and compiled from the U.S. Coast Guard records. Emissions testing did not occur during the period of this report, but will be complete by August 31, 2008.
Photocatalytic Coating on Road Pavements/Structures: Lamar University researchers have constructed a catalyst-coated concrete photoreactor (CCP) setup consisting of a catalyst-coated cement concrete slab and a light source fixed to a wooden casing for testing NOx removal. NOx is introduced into this setup for testing. NO conversion in the CCP reached 90% within 5 minutes and increased to stay above that level thereafter. NO2 concentration profiles show the intermediate stage of NO oxidation. NO conversion increases with residence time in the CCP. The NO conversion time was found to be insensitive to the inlet concentration after 5 minutes. The research did find that higher relative humidity leads to a lower conversion, most likely due to the competitive adsorption between water and NO. This project will be completed by August 31, 2008.
MOBILE6 CO and NOx emissions over/under estimation: No results to date; work ongoing (to be completed by August 31, 2008).
Effects of Atmospheric Aging on Ozone, Secondary Aerosol and Particulate Matter and Air Toxics: no results to date; work ongoing (to be completed by August 31, 2008).

Expected Results:

During the first year of operation, the Joint Center will form a nine member Advisory Committee comprised of transportation and air research scientists plus other air quality organization members. The Committee will help guide the research process to achieve the Center's goals. Committee members will also provide needed liaisons with other air research activities and advisory groups such as the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, the Science Synthesis Committee, and the Texas Air Research Center. Other research organizations will be engaged in the implementation of specific tasks of the Center.

Future Activities:

Future Joint Center activities include adding or replacing Joint Center Advisory Committee members and interaction with partner organizations through continued site visits. TAQF will maintain work on the options database as a searchable product for an online application. The various computer models have been summarized and will be made available to regional stakeholders and experts, along with the database, primarily through the Joint Center website. Because of the aforementioned personnel changes, the launch of the website was delayed.
Work on the regional translation method will continue to be developed for testing and application. A white paper on the SIP process and regional translation will be completed in 2008. Joint Center staff is working with the Houston Galveston Area Council’s (H-GAC) RAQPQ (Regional Air Quality Planning Committee) Policy Subcommittee to help identify and prioritize transportation control road measures for inclusion in the SIP, including options identified in the Joint Center process.
Joint Center staff continued to interact with stakeholders and staff involved in Texas air quality research through the Texas Environmental Research Consortium functions. The Texas Environmental Research Consortium is a nonprofit organization receiving research funding from the State of Texas for air quality research. Joint Center staff involvement has included input on transportation and mobile source options from Joint Center research.
In 2007, HARC hosted a meeting to discuss the prospect of establishing a Texas Hybrid Truck Coalition. The primary objective of such a coalition would be to help accelerate the commercialization of hybrid technology and deployment of hybrid trucks in Texas. Attendees heard several presentations from both the manufacturer and end-user perspective followed by a lively discussion highlighting some of the issues holding back rapid deployment of hybrid trucks into the market place. The meeting and subsequent discussions with various stakeholders confirmed the need to form a coalition to help remove some of the remaining obstacles to rapid deployment of hybrid truck technologies as well as other fuel consumption and emissions reducing equipment.
As a result, HARC, in conjunction with the Joint Center, has established the Advanced Technology Truck Coalition of Texas (ATTCoT). The coalition will be primarily made up of end users and technology providers aiming to accelerate deployment of fuel efficient and clean technology in Texas. With members setting priorities for the coalition, a variety of efforts can support the objective:
  • Leverage combined purchasing power of the coalition members
  • Pooling resources for demonstration program and early technology adoptoin
  • Vigorous pursuit of State and Federal grants to offset incremental cost of technology
  • Conferences to disseminate important technology information to members and the public
  • Information sharing between members and technology providers
The Coalition website will be up and running by early Spring of 2008 (http://www.attcot.org). HARC is planning a kickoff meeting for the middle of October 2008.
The Joint Center and Lamar University worked with stakeholders to organize and sponsor a photocatalytic coatings workshop for late spring of 2008. The workshop was proposed to bring researchers from across the country, along with government officials, to discuss the current state photocatalytic coatings, their possible real-world applications, and future research needs.
The current project schedule is to complete tasks under this award by August 31, 2008.
  • The biodiesel/marine vessel project (TAMUG) will determine how emission testing will be accomplished and incorporate any revised method or tasks in to the project. Development of computer modeling for the spatial distribution of vessel emissions will continue to be developed.
  • The MOBILE6 CO and NOx emissions over/under estimation (UT) project will examine whether the ratio of CO to NOx emissions predicted by MOBILE6 is higher than observed values near selected Texas roadways. The results of the Texas study will also be compared with data collected in Los Angeles and other cities. The project work plan and schedule are being reviewed for completion in August 2008.
  • The effects of atmospheric aging on ozone, secondary aerosol and particulate matter and air toxics (UNC) project is underway. Significant use of B100 may impact air quality, beneficially or negatively. While direct emissions are important, such emissions will undergo photochemical reaction and participate in the formation of ozone, primary particulate matter (PM), secondary organic aerosols (SOA), and air toxics in the atmosphere. The study will use fresh and photochemically aged conditions to compare photochemical results of each fuel by itself and mixed with a realistic urban-like mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and NOx. The results of these experiments will provide direct observational data of any important differences in bio- and petro-diesel. In addition, in vitro toxicological tests are being performed with cultured human lung cells to compare the relative toxicity of fresh and photochemically aged bio- and petro-diesel emissions as measured by increased inflammation and cell death. The project work plan and schedule are scheduled for completion in June of 2008.

Journal Articles: 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other center views: All 11 publications 3 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Feldman MS, Howard T, McDonald-Buller E, Mullins G, Allen DT, Webb A, Kimura Y. Applications of satellite remote sensing data for estimating dry deposition in eastern Texas. Atmospheric Environment 2007;41(35):7562-7576. X832317 (Final)
  • Full-text: Science Direct
  • Abstract: Science Direct
  • Other: Science Direct PDF
  • Journal Article Simon H, Allen DT, Wittig AE. Fine particulate matter emissions inventories: comparisons of emissions estimates with observations from recent field programs. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 2008;58(2):320-343. X832317 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Webster M, Nam J, Kimura Y, Jeffries H, Vizuete W, Allen DT. The effect of variability in industrial emissions on ozone formation in Houston, Texas. Atmospheric Environment 2007;41(40):9580-9593. X832317 (Final)
  • Full-text: Science Direct
  • Abstract: Science Direct
  • Other: Science Direct PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Healthy communities and ecosystems, air, ozone, particulate matter, Texas, TX Region 6, air-shed model, transportation and clean air and climate change,, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • Final Report