Keeping up pressure for lower carbon emissions

Posted on September 9, 2012

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More air in your tyres, fewer black balloons: Edhem Custovic at La Trobe’s ‘inflation station’

A new and highly innovative tyre pressure station has been installed at the Melbourne campus of La Trobe University, capable of tracking the number of tyres inflated and estimating the reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The station encourages students and staff to ensure their tyres are optimally inflated. Data generated from the system will be used to help reduce La Trobe University’s carbon footprint.

‘There are an estimated 6,500 staff and student vehicles that come to La Trobe University,’ says the project’s principal investigator, Electronic Engineering PhD candidate Edhem Custovic.

‘If we can target at least a percentage of these vehicles we’re looking at a saving of hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions per year.’

Underinflated tyres have been shown to increase vehicle fuel consumption by up to 3%, and can significantly increase tyre wear.

There are 16.7 million registered motor vehicles in Australia. A survey in the United Kingdom found that 72% of tyres on the road were underinflated.

Inflation – great for the environment

‘If there are similar numbers in Australia, up to 12 million cars could have underinflated tyres on our roads, potentially leading to almost a million tonnes of additional carbon emissions every year,’ says Mr Custovic.

‘Low tyre pressure in vehicles is not only a safety concern; it makes the engine work harder. When the engine works harder, the vehicle wastes more fuel, and causes an increase in CO2 emissions,’ he adds.

The tyre pressure station at La Trobe University communicates data via blue-tooth technology, tracking information on the number of tyres inflated, and calculating how much CO2 emissions are reduced over time.

La Trobe University Pro-Vice Chancellor of Sustainability, Professor Carol Adams, says: ‘We want our staff and students to apply sustainability practices to the way they learn, the way they research, and the way they live. We’re doing this by involving them in various initiatives around the campuses.’

The tyre pressure station is an initiative of La Trobe University’s Department of Electronic Engineering and the Office of Sustainability.