Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Prototype generators emit much less carbon monoxide, NIST finds

Portable electric generators retrofitted with off-the-shelf hardware by the University of Alabama (UA) emitted significantly lower levels of carbon monoxide (CO) exhaust, according to the results* of tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Compared with standard portable generators, CO emissions from the prototype machines were reduced by 90 percent or more, depending on the specific hardware used and operating conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unintentional CO poisoning claims more than 400 lives a year. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of the colorless, odorless gas. Fatality is highest among people 65 and older.

Many of these deaths and illnesses stem from unsafe use of portable generators, often in the aftermath of devastating storms and other causes of electric power outages. For the years 2005 to 2008, the CPSC reports that an estimated 37 to 47 percent of non-fire-related consumer product-related CO poisoning deaths were associated with generators.

The tests performed by NIST compared two commercially available gasoline-powered generators against two similar machines that UA retrofitted with closed-loop electronic fuel injection and a small catalyst. Tests were conducted at NIST's manufactured test home, with the generator operating in the attached garage so as to simulate some common scenarios that often result in deaths or injuries.

In one series of comparisons, generators operated three or more hours in the garage with the garage bay door open and the entry to the house closed. For the stock generator tested, CO levels in the garage peaked at 1,500 parts per million (ppm,which are equivalent to microliters per liter) and inside the house ranged between 150 and 200 ppm.

Clinical symptoms of CO poisoning, including headaches, nausea, and disordered thinking, begin appearing at exposure levels of 100 ppm after at least 90 minutes exposure. During the NIST tests, emissions from the prototype generators ranged from 20 to 30 ppm in the open garage and from 5 to 10 ppm in the house.

CPSC staff conducted health effects modeling using NIST's test results, as part of CPSC's technology demonstration program of the prototype generator, to show that its engine's reduced CO emission rate is expected to result in fewer deaths by significantly delaying the onset and rate of progression of CO poisoning symptoms compared to the stock generator.

On the basis of results of findings from NIST's two earlier studies,** the CDC advises to never run a generator less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area. Steven Emmerich, the lead NIST researcher, reminds that generators should always be operated outdoors, far from open windows. "Tragically, fatalities and injuries occur every year," he says. "We hope our research in support of CPSC's efforts to develop and demonstrate a low CO emission generator using existing emission control technology will contribute to practical safety improvements that will help to reduce this toll."

Annual sales of portable generators have been increasing in the United States and around the world, largely as insurance in the event of power failures. By 2014, U.S. sales of home generator units are predicted to reach $1.2 billion, according to a 2010 report by SBI Energy. The consultancy predicts that worldwide sales will grow to almost 13 million units in 2014.

In their study, NIST researchers also validated the use of their CONTAM*** computer model for studying the performance of prototype generators under a wider range of conditions than those tested. Results of simulations carried out with this publicly available software for studying building airflow and indoor air quality were checked against measurements of CO levels in actual tests. The predicted results were in good agreement with the CO measurements.

* S.J. Emmerich, A.K. Persily, and L. Wang, Modeling and Measuring the Effects of Portable Gasoline Powered Generator Exhaust on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Level, NIST Technical Note 1781, Feb. 2013.

** L. Wang and S.J. Emmerich, Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasoline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures, NIST Technical Note 1637, Aug. 2009.

L. Wang, S. J. Emmerich, and R. Powell, Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasoline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures – Phase II, NIST Technical Note 1666, July 2010.

*** CONTAM multizone airflow and contaminant transport analysis software:

Mark Bello | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>