UV-LED Photocatalytic Fuel Vapor Emissions Control

EPA Grant Number: SU839464
Title: UV-LED Photocatalytic Fuel Vapor Emissions Control
Investigators: Almquist, Dr Catherine B , Campbell, Kristin
Current Investigators: Almquist, Dr Catherine B , Coughlan, Cashel , Gabski, Jan , Hogan, Will , Lyons, Jared , Weaver, Kyle , Zhu, Jingchao
Institution: Miami University - Oxford
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Phase: I
Project Period: January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019
Project Amount: $14,863
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2018) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality


We propose to reduce/eliminate evaporative fuel vapor emissions from automobiles using a novel UV-LED photocatalytic process. The photocatalytic process will utilize battery-powered ultraviolet (λ=365 nm) light emitting diodes (UV-LEDs) as light sources and photocatalytic (TiO2) films coated on the inside surfaces of the vent lines in the onboard fuel vapor recovery system in automobiles.

UV-LEDs are small, robust light sources that require low direct current (DC) power, which could be provided by the battery already contained within the automobile. UV-LEDs are ideal for niche mobile applications, such as in photocatalytic processes within automobiles.

The proposed project will have four key aspects: 1) Develop a lab-scale test system to assess the effects of reactor design, fuel vapor types and concentrations, and residence time on the extent of fuel vapor oxidation, 2) Design and construct a prototype UV-LED photocatalytic test system that can be incorporated into an automobile to reduce evaporative fuel vapor emissions, 3) Develop a computational fluid dynamics model, using a commercial software package (e.g. COMSOL), of the UV-LED photocatalytic system for evaporative fuel vapor emissions control, and 4) Assess the economic attractiveness of a photocatalytic process that is capable of reducing/eliminating evaporative fuel vapor emissions.


The development of a U V-LED photocatalytic process that can be implemented into the evaporative fuel vapor emissions control system is novel and innovative! It relates to the three aspects of sustainability in the following ways:

People: People who live in urban centers have greater exposure to air pollutants due to the greater number of and proximity to both stationary and mobile sources of air pollution, and therefore, they have a greater risk of detrimental health impacts due to air pollution. This project will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds from automobiles, and hence, reduce urban haze, especially in locations of high traffic density.

Prosperity: According to an EPA website, "Low-income neighborhoods, tribal populations and communities of color that live in urban areas may be disproportionately exposed to air pollution, which is a barrier to economic opportunity and security." This project, if successful, will decrease urban haze and air pollutants in urban areas, and thus enhance the economic opportunities for low income populations. In addition, the development of an innovative process, such as the one proposed here, will have a high potential for job creation in the transportation sector.

Planet:The transportation sector is the source of greater than 30 percent of the volatile organic carbon (VOC) air emissions in the US. Although much has been done to reduce the emissions of VOCs from automobiles, more must be done to prevent the degradation of air quality in urban centers. The proposed project addresses VOC emissions from automobiles.

Concepts of sustainability, especially as applied to the proposed project, will be taught to Miami's students through Miami's senior design program and Senior Design Expo (held each spring). The project idea, methods, results, and its applicability to sustainability will also be incorporated into classes that are taught by the PI through readings, assignments, and demonstrations/labs. Sustainability concepts will be introduced to the general public through presentations of the proposed project at Miami University's Undergraduate Research Forum and at selected local and regional professional conferences (e.g. SWE, AICHE, ACS).

Expected Results:

Anticipated results include the design, construction, and demonstration of both lab-scale and prototype UV-LED-based photocatalytic systems that are capable of reducing or eliminating evaporative fuel vapor emissions from automobiles. Test results will be acquired to demonstrate the sensitivity of the effectiveness of the UV-LED-based photocatalytic system on operating parameters. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations of the fuel vapor flow and concentrations within the UV-LED-based photocatalytic oxidation system will be developed as a tool for process optimization. Finally, an economic analysis will be conducted on the implementation of UV-LED-based photocatalytic processes into the evaporative fuel vapor emissions control system in an automobiles.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: The proposed project can improve the ambient air quality, especially in urban centers with high motor vehicle density by reducing volatile organic carbon emissions. A reduction in volatile organic carbons will enhance air quality from both direct emissions of fuel vapors (some of which can include hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)) and from indirect air pollutants (e.g. ground-level ozone).

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

photocatalysis, UV-LEDs, fuel vapors, computer modeling

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    UV-LED Photocatalytic Fuel Vapor Emissions Control