Emission Control and Air Pollution Module

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Day 3-4: Analyze the Data

For these activities you need to have access to a software that you can make graphs (e.g., Excel). You can also use a graphing calculator (e.g., TI-82). After you finish these activities prepare a brief report with your results and send it to Davea students for comments. Ask them if they need any different kind of data analysis.

Sample data analysis.

Activity One:

The data files of Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen contain the measurements of these four gases taken in the emission tests of various cars. Plot each of the four gases on the Y axis (make a different graph for each gas) and each of the cars on the X axis to show how the four gases measurements have changed from car to car. Mark the maximum level of each gas permitted according to the specifications by the regulations. Compare the measured levels of the four gases for each car to the specifications.

  • Can you find any trends among types of cars and each of the four gases?
  • Can you find trends among when these cars have been manufactured and the amount of pollutants they produce in the atmosphere?
  • Is the data you have enough to support a strong argument about the trends you have discovered? If not, what do you need to do to make a stronger claim?

In the following figure you can see a sample graph of carbon monoxide emission and vehicle miles traveled.



Activity Two:

In this activity you will compute the amount of carbon dioxide produced in pounds by the vehicles on which the emissions test has been performed. Plot the carbon dioxide measurements on the Y axis and cars on the X axis to show the carbon dioxide pollution trend in these cars. Use the following sample calculation (You are reminded that 1 mile=1.609 km, 1 gallon=3.785 l, and 1 pound=.453 kg) to find the amount of carbon dioxide produced in pounds by the vehicles.


Sample calculation--

  • miles traveled by the car = 2700 miles
  • gas consumed=2000 miles/30 mpg = 90 gallon gas
  • Carbon Dioxide produced=(20 lbs Carbon Dioxide/gallon) x (90 gallons) = 1800 lbs Carbon dioxide (this is only for one car!). You can calculate also (on the average) how much Carbon Dioxide is produced by this car in a year/month/week. How? Think about this.


To do these calculations, you can assume that:

  • the average car gets 30 miles per gallon, or you can ask the Davea students to give you the exact car’s gas mileage in miles per gallon (mpg) for each of the cars they have tested.
  • approximately 20 pounds (9 kg) of Carbon Dioxide are produced per gallon consumed
  • the average young tree removes 25 pounds (11.3 kg) of Carbon Dioxide per year.


The above graph you have made shows how much carbon dioxide each car contributes to the atmosphere each year. Can you estimate the amount of carbon dioxide produced in DuPage county? For the past year? For the past five years? How? Can you estimate the amount of carbon dioxide in your county for the next five years?


Activity Three:

  • Using the above information plan a strategy to reduce the auto mileage for the cars involved in the emissions tests. For example, can you reduce by 1000 pounds the amount of Carbon Dioxide these cars put into the atmosphere each year? How? Suggest specific ways to the people who have the cars how they can do that.
  • In addition to consuming less gas, you can also plant trees. For example, by planting 10 trees a year, your family could remove 250 pounds of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Given that an average forest has about 400 trees per acre, can you figure out how many acres of forest must be planted in your community to absorb the amount of Carbon Dioxide that these cars produce (on the average) every year?