Effects of ambient temperature and cold starts on excess NOx emissions in a gasoline direct injection vehicle

Ran Tu, Junshi Xu, An Wang, Zhiqiang Zhai, Marianne Hatzopoulou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Studies have demonstrated that vehicles with gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines produce significantly higher emissions during a cold start than under hot-stabilized periods. A cold start is typically defined by the temperature of the engine or the catalytic converter; its extended effect on emissions, after the vehicle reaches the warm-up stage, has seldom been investigated. In this study, the influence of the post cold start period on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions was evaluated using real-world measurements. Vehicle on-board diagnostic data, fuel consumption, and emissions of multiple pollutants were collected on a 2020 GDI sports utility vehicle equipped with a Portable Emission Measurement System (PEMS). A total of 31 trips, with two drives per day, were conducted along arterial roads and highways in Toronto, Canada. The results indicate that during the first trip of the day after an overnight soak, the average NOx emission rate was 0.27 g/litre and 0.037 g/km, 384% and 299% higher than the emission rate on the second trip of the day. The amount of trip total NOx emissions is positively associated with the length of the catalytic converter warm-up period with correlation coefficient 0.67. We also observe that the catalyst warm-up time is negatively correlated with ambient temperature, and a negative relationship between ambient temperature and NOx emissions throughout the trip is depicted with correlation coefficient −0.44. The measured data reveal an extended effect of the cold start on NOx emissions even after the temperatures of the engine coolant and catalyst reach a stable level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143402
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cold start
  • Cold temperature
  • Gasoline direct injection engine
  • NO emissions
  • PEMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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