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01/16/2017 HYU News > Academics Important News


Regulating Carbon Dioxide Emission from Automobiles

Professor Park Sung-wook (Department of Mechanical Engineering)


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Tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide is released into air everyday, engendering chains of environmental and health problems. Human activities are profoundly culpable for such phenomenon, citing industrial processes, combustion of fossil fuels, and operation of power plants. Among a variety of sources of CO2, automobiles are responsible for 20% of the total emission. Further narrowing down the scope and focusing on light duty vehicles, Professor Park Sung-wook of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has researched and analyzed data about CO2 emissions and predicted possible decrease in the rate. In his paper “Development strategies to satisfy corporate average CO2 emission regulations of light duty vehicles (LDVs) in Korea,” Park elaborated on strategies to abate the enormity of CO2 emissions in the long run.

Blueprint of possible consequences

An international protocol demands each country to cut down its pollutant emission by a certain percentage, otherwise charging it with a fine. A country then assigns its corporates with a set reduction goal, as an attempt to attain its mission more efficiently. In his paper, Park predicted and analyzed the possible decreases in the rate of CO2 emission in terms of different categories of automobiles: electronic, hybrid, and diesel vehicles. He collected data from each automobile manufacture company about the number of sales of each type and calculated an estimation of how many of each type of vehicle must be sold and what portion of production of each type must be maintained in order to reach a set curtailment target.

If the majority of drivers switch their cars to electronic vehicles, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air will shrink substantially, thereby contributing to the fulfillment of the set goal. As for current situation, however, the supply of electronic cars is scanty. Therefore, aiming to reduce CO2 emission by encouraging the use of electronic cars is virtually futile. On top of this inefficient pace of progress, production of electricity augments the rate of CO2 emission not in the domain of transportation but in industrial manufacturing.
Park explains that electric cars are not the ultimate solution in the long run.

Consequently, excluding electronic cars, Park was left with diesel and hybrid cars. “There is a general misunderstanding that any type of cars that is not electronic is environmentally-harmful. Of course, when the vehicle is in operation, an electric car emits zero carbon dioxide. Yet, if you take a look at its fuel, electricity, power stations altogether expel about the equal amount of pollutant,” elucidated Park. Taking into consideration that diesel fuels contain more energy per liter than petroleum and hybrid cars burn less gas to cover the same distance than petroleum-run cars, the two models look ideal when it comes to seeing a positive effect in the long run.

Shift in the perspective

It has always been the politician’s task to place regulations on corporates in regard to cutting down the CO2 emission. Park took this issue and viewed it from the perspective of an engineer. “Environmental problems are not as simple as those with only superficial knowledge think. If one problem is solved, it has got to make another way to reproduce itself through other forms,” stated Park. “For instance, supposing that the world has adopted a policy to supply electronic cars and has stopped using diesel or other fuel-combustion-demanding cars, the situation will beget another problem. Production of electricity to fuel all the electronic cars will require just as much CO2 emission as running fuel cars, not to mention the vast discharge from factories for producing the cars themselves,” elaborated Park. In other words, in lieu of directly belching CO2 from the automobile itself, electric cars will indirectly lead to hatch of another problematic concern, which is the release of massive CO2 from electricity factories.
Through his studies, Park realized that electric cars alone cannot solve the CO2 struggle, hinting more efficient engines in the future.

Park strongly thinks that engineers, who possess the fundamental and indispensable information about technology and its impact on nature, should hold more influential authority in making environmental laws. “The essential difference between engineering and science is their practicality. Products of engineering could be measured easily with technology but that of science is not. Nevertheless, engineering has not been so influential in areas other than its own. I hope to see the outcomes of engineering research `reflected more in policies,” delivered Park.
Park is planning to carry his research onto larger auotomobiles for future solutions.

Jeon Chae-yun
Photos by
Moon Ha-na
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