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UC Riverside engineers to “referee” CARB heavy-duty truck emissions program

University of California, Riverside (UCR) environmental engineers will soon serve as referees in California’s drive for heavy-duty trucks to meet the state’s tailpipe emission standards.

The referee program will provide testing services for vehicles potentially operating with tampered emissions control systems and/or testability issues. Operating under the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance (HD I/M) regulation, the program will ensure vehicles are properly tested and those with broken emissions control systems are identified and repaired in a timely manner.

Under an agreement with CARB, UCR’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) will run the state referee program for heavy-duty trucks, including big rig tractor-trailers. Two testing locations are expected to open this spring, including a site in Riverside.

Within the next few years, UCR will be expanding its referee testing network throughout the state to ensure statewide coverage.

California State University Fresno will partner with UCR by doing tests in the San Joaquin Valley, said Tom Durbin, a research engineer with CE-CERT, who will oversee the referee program.

The referee program exemplifies a synergy between CARB and UCR following CARB’s 2021 opening of its Southern California headquarters on 19 acres provided by UCR off Iowa Avenue, just a short walk from the UCR campus.

UCR will start by hiring three or four referee testers with engineering skills and will later expand the staff as needed as the program grows statewide. The program will also give CE-CERT students hands-on experience.

This program will last easily for 20 to 30 years because, even though truck manufacturers are transitioning over to electric vehicles, there still is going to be a legacy fleet of diesel trucks that will be on the road into the 2040s for sure.

—Tom Durbin

CARB’s Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance program is projected to significantly reduce air pollution from the heavy-duty vehicles, which are responsible for more than 50% of nitrogen oxides and fine particle diesel pollution from all mobile sources in the state.


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