Motorcycling - Knowledge

Switching to BS-4: A Crucial Step Towards Reducing Air Pollution

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When you are having fun riding our motorcycles, it is difficult to imagine the other aspect of the ride - the air pollutants being generated by it. All automobiles require fuel to run; the combustion of this fuel by their engines results in the generation of energy that drives our bike, and a whole lot of particulate matter that is the primary cause of air pollution. The rise in air pollutants has dramatically increased the incidences of air-borne diseases. This is why you must know the regulatory specifications issued by the Government of India, known as BS-4.

Table of Content:

  • Brief History Behind BS-4
  • What Are the Implications of BS-4
  • BS-3 and BS-4: The Differences
  • The Details of Tests in BS-4
  • Importance of BS-4 Norms
  • Expected Future Trends
  • Summing Up

Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) are the emission standards issued by the Government of India to control and regulate the generation of air pollution from internal combustion engines and spark ignition engines. The most direct implication of these standards is in the automobile industry. BS-4 is the current version of these standards and two-wheelers, like motorcycles, are getting most affected by its implementation. Let us have a look at what BS-4 is and how does it affect motorcycle owners.

Brief History Behind BS-4

History of BS 4
The History (and Future) of BS 4

As a step towards the betterment of the environment, the Government of India implemented the very first emission norms in 1991 for petrol driven automobiles and in 1992 for diesel driven automobiles. The major reforms that happened after these rules were the introduction of a catalytic converter and the availability of unleaded petrol. Both these outcomes were directed towards lowering air pollution.

In 1999, it was made compulsory for all vehicles to follow the India-2000 guidelines. India-2000 norms were based on the Euro-1 guidelines and required vehicle manufacturers to create engines that followed their specifications within the next few months. Car manufacturers were in strong opposition of these because they could not alter the production line in such short notice.

Subsequently, the Government followed a timeline of implementation of BS norms based on Euro-1 regulations. Over the years 2000 to 2010, the Government passed BS-2 (Euro-2) regulations in 2003-2005, BS-3 (Euro-3) regulations in 2005-2010, and finally BS-4 (Euro-4) regulations in 2010 in NCR and few other cities. In 2017, the Government made a nationwide implementation of BS-4 mandatory. It is proposed that by 2020, the government will put BS-6 (Euro-6) guidelines in practice.

What Are the Implications of BS-4

Implications of BS 4
Morning Dew Smog (Source)

Under BS-4 guidelines, the sale and registration of new vehicles that don’t conform to the standards are banned since April 2017. This means that all the vehicles that do not comply with BS-4 standards will not be sold or registered. While most car manufacturers have already switched to the new specifications, the two-wheeler segment was worst hit because of a large number of unsold motorcycles and scooters lying in their warehouses.

Consequently, the dealers started selling their BS-3 vehicles on huge discounts, trying to lure the customers. Many two-wheelers were sold and registered on the last day before the new regulations were implemented.

BS-3 and BS-4: The Differences

BS 4 vs BS 3 emission standards
Emission Standards: BS 3 vs BS 4

The major difference between BS-3 and BS-4 norms for two-wheelers is in the maximum permissible limit of exhaust emissions. While BS-3 bikes were allowed a CO emission and HC + NOx emission of 1.0 g/km each, these values have drastically decreased as per the BS-4 guidelines. As per BS-4, the maximum allowed exhaust emission values are 0.75 g/km for CO emission and for HC + NOx emission. This means that in a scenario of BS-3 v/s BS-4, BS-4 engine bikes will cause substantially lesser air pollution.

A shift from BS-3 to BS-4 bikes in India also takes into account the evaporation emissions from the fuel tank. For manufacturers to comply with these new regulations, the in-line BS-4 vehicles list in India would have to include additional stamps in the body structure or additional brackets to hold the new systems. This might lead to a change in the design of the vehicle as retrofit might be difficult.

To cut the long story short, if manufacturers are to make BS-4 compliant bikes, they would have to change the design of their best-selling models to accommodate additional catalytic converters and secondary airflow systems. This will lead to a concurrent increase in the cost of the motorcycle.

The Details of Tests in BS-4

tests run on bs 4 bikes
Tried and Tested (Source)

There are various tests that BS 4 bikes go through to ensure they’re roadworthy and eco-friendly. Here’s a simple explanation of those tests.

Type 1 Test

This test is performed to check the exhaust emission under Indian Driving Conditions (IDC).

Type 2 Test

This test carries out Spark Ignition testing to check the levels of CO and HC percentage.

Type 3 Test

This test is meant for checking the durability of various anti-pollution devices fitted in the BS-4 compliant vehicle.

Type 4 and Type 5 Tests

These tests together monitor the evaporative emissions and durability of anti-pollution devices in the vehicles. The evaporative emission tests are done in two types- 2g and 6g.

Importance of BS-4 Norms

importance of BS 4
Doing Our Part (Source)

The drastic climatic changes and natural disasters in the last few years have been partly attributed to misuse of natural resources. Vehicles use fossil fuels for running and the combustion of this fuel leads to tremendous air pollution. Although industries also contribute to air pollution, vehicles are an important factor. After the Government policies that clearly established the regulations for BS-4 vehicles list in India, manufacturers are increasingly trying to convert BS-3 vehicles to comply with BS-4. These are vital for controlling the emissions from the exhaust. These emissions cause health problems, some of them serious enough to render the person bedridden. Therefore, following these norms is the need of the hour.

Experts believe that along with implementing these rules, it is necessary to provide enough supplies of fuel for BS-IV bikes and vehicles. In the past, BS-4 compliance has been delayed because of the unavailability of fuel that is suitable for BS-4 compliant vehicles.

Expected Future Trends

With the steady growth in the number of vehicles, especially motorcycles, it is likely that regulatory norms like BS-4 are implemented and followed by vehicle manufacturers. In future, norms like BS-VI are likely to play a major role in combating air pollution generated because of automobile exhausts. Stringent regulatory policies that are guided by competent international authorities are promising means of reducing air pollution and improving the quality of life.

Summing Up

BS 4 Conclusion
A Step towards a Better World (Source)

Switching to the latest norms of automobile exhaust specifications is a great step towards environmental protection. However, concurrent administrative steps need to be taken to ensure that the manufacturing of BS-4 compliant vehicles does is complemented with a regular supply of compliant fuel too. In addition, clear rules regarding the sales and registration of the new vehicles should be put into practice.

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