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Description and History of the MOBILE Highway Vehicle Emission Factor Model

MOBILE is an EPA model for estimating pollution from highway vehicles. It has been superseded by the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES).

MOBILE calculates emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) from passenger cars, motorcycles, light- and heavy-duty trucks. (Additional pollutants are now being added.) MOBILE is based on emissions testing of tens of thousands of vehicles. The model accounts for the emission impacts of factors such as changes in vehicle emission standards, changes in vehicle populations and activity, and variation in local conditions such as temperature, humidity and fuel quality.

MOBILE results were used to calculate current and future inventories of these emissions at the national and local level. These inventories were used to make decisions about air pollution policy and programs at the local, state and national level. Inventories based on MOBILE were also used to meet the federal Clean Air Act's state implementation plan (SIP) and transportation conformity requirements, and were sometimes used to meet requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

The MOBILE model was first developed as MOBILE1 in the late 1970s, and has been updated periodically to reflect improved data, changes in vehicle, engine, and emission control system technologies, changes in applicable regulations and emission standards and test procedures, and improved understanding of in-use emission levels and the factors that influence them.

MOBILE estimates emissions of both exhaust and evaporative emissions. The output from the model is in the form of emission factors expressed as grams of pollutant per vehicle per hour (g/hr), or per vehicle mile traveled (g/mi). Thus, emission factors from MOBILE can be combined with estimates of total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to develop highway vehicle emission inventories (in terms of tons per day, per month, per season, per year). The change in emission factors for a given vehicle category over time are a reflection of the impacts of fleet turnover. (Over time, older vehicles built to less stringent emission standards are replaced in the fleet by newer vehicles built in compliance with more stringent standards.)

Each generation of the MOBILE model became more sophisticated in its approach to modeling average in-use emissions and has provided the user with additional options for tailoring emission factor estimates to specific times and geographic locations. A brief history of the MOBILE model versions follows.

For more information about MOBILE, or to download the MOBILE6 model, see the EPA's MOBILE6 web page: www.epa.gov/otaq/m6.htm

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Brief History of the MOBILE Highway Vehicle Emission Factor Model

MOBILE1 (1978)
The first model for highway vehicle emission factors.   Previously, all factors were tabulated in "look-up tables" published as part of AP-42 "Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors, Volume II: Mobile Sources."  Modeled exhaust emission rates as functions of age and mileage.

MOBILE2 (1981)
Updated with new data on emission-controlled vehicles (i.e., catalytic converters, model years 1975 and later) at higher ages/mileages. Provided additional user control of input options.

MOBILE3 (1984)
Updated with new in-use data. Eliminated California vehicle emission rates. Continued to model low- and high-altitude emissions. Added tampering rates and associated emissions impacts and anti-tampering program benefits. Adjusted non-exhaust emissions to account for "real world" fuel volatility as measured by Reid vapor pressure (RVP).

MOBILE4 (1989)
Updated with new in-use data. Added evaporative running losses as a distinct emission source for gasoline powered vehicles. Modeled fuel volatility (RVP) effects on exhaust emission rates. Expanded user-controlled options for input data.

MOBILE4.1 (1991)
Updated with new in-use data. Added features allowing user control of more parameters affecting in-use emission levels, including more inspection/maintenance (I/M) program designs. Added the effects of various new emission standards and related regulatory changes (e.g., test procedures). Included the impact of oxygenated fuels (e.g., gasohol) on CO emissions

MOBILE5 and MOBILE5a (1993)
Updated with new in-use data. Based new basic emission rate equations on much larger database derived from State-implemented IM240 test programs. Included effects of new evaporative emission test procedure. Added effects of reformulated gasoline (RFG). Added the impact of oxygenated fuels on HC emissions. Added effect of light duty Tier 1 emission standards and new NOx standard of 4.0 g/bhp-hr for heavy-duty engines. Added July 1 evaluation option. Allowed modeling of low-emitting vehicle (LEV) programs patterned after California regulations. Revised speed corrections. MOBILE5a was issued about 4 months after MOBILE5 to correct a number of minor errors detected under certain specific conditions.

MOBILE5b (1996)
Updated to reflect impacts of new regulations promulgated since release of MOBILE5 and MOBILE5a, including: onboard refueling vapor recovery systems, detergent gasoline additives, and Phase II reformulated gasoline (RFG) requirements. Reactivated calculation of idle emission factors and expanded calendar year range for which emission factors can be calculated from 2020 to 2050. Increased flexibility of modeling of inspection/maintenance (I/M) programs, providing easier modeling of retest-based hybrid I/M programs, evaporative emission system pressure and purge tests, technician training and certification (TTC) credits, and acceleration simulation mode (ASM) tests (ASM1 and ASM2). Corrected phase-in of emission benefits for first cycle of I/M program operation.

MOBILE6.0 (2002)
Updated with new and improved data in many areas, including in-use deterioration of 1981-and-newer vehicles, light duty speed effects, gasoline sulfur effects, and evaporative emissions. RevisedI/M benefit algorithm. Removed calculation of purge test benefit. Revised algorithms for air conditioning and high acceleration driving. Added the effects of Tier 2 and new heavy duty engine and diesel fuel rules. Substantially revised input and output structures, adding "plain English" input commands and database output. Expanded number of vehicle sub-classes from eight to 28. Added hourly calculation of emissions and emission estimates by roadway type. Separated start and running exhaust emissions. Removed calculation of idle emissions. Allowed user entry of more detailed vehicle activity information.

MOBILE6.2 (draft 2002, final 2004)
Added ability to model emission factors for particulate matter and six air toxics (Benzene, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether, 1,3-Butadiene, Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, and Acrolein). Added ability to model additional air toxics with user-supplied emission factors. Added spreadsheet output option. Improved carbon monoxide emission factors.

In 2010, the MOBILE series of models was replaced by MOVES as EPA’s official model for estimating emissions from cars, trucks and motorcycles. Information about MOVES, including policy guidance on when it must be used for State Implementation Plans and transportation conformity determinations is available here.

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