Air Quality

The importance of air quality improvement

With concern that the degradation of ecosystems may be proceeding more rapidly and extensively than ever, companies must recognize both their impact on ecosystems and their dependence on the services that ecosystems provide. By reducing exhaust emissions, providing a pleasant in-cabin environment to customers, and considering ecosystems, Nissan hopes to realize mobility that makes daily life healthier.

According to the State of Global Air 2017 report issued by the US-based Health Effects Institute (HEI), 92% of the world’s population currently lives in regions where particulate matter smaller than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) exceeds the 10 µg/m3 basic level specified by World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines. Furthermore, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts that the global population will exceed 9 billion by 2050, with around 70% of people concentrated in cities, making air pollution in urban areas an even more pressing issue.

For an automobile company, air pollution stands alongside climate change and congestion as an issue for cities in particular, and one that must be faced in order to contribute to its resolution.

NGP2022 Objectives

  • Research on technical solutions for cabin air quality improvement
  • Reduce VOC emissions per painted area of manufactured vehicles

Product-related key activities

Regarding internal combustion vehicles, Nissan proactively sets strict goals and targets for their design and production, with the ultimate goal of producing emissions as clean as the atmosphere. We have worked to develop a wide range of technologies, including (1) improvements for cleaner burning of fuel, (2) catalytic converters to reduce emissions, and (3) ways to use evaporate gasoline from fuel tanks.

As a results, our Sentra CA, released in the United States in January 2000, was the first gasoline-powered car in the world to receive Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification1* in compliance with the emissions requirements of the California Air Resources Board. The Bluebird Sylphy, released in Japan in August 2000, became the first vehicle to gain certification from the Ministry of Transport (now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) as an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (U-LEV).

EVs such as the Nissan LEAF, which has cumulative global sales of 580,000 units (as of the end of March 2022), are an effective tool for reducing air pollution in urban areas. As a leader in this field, we are promoting zeroemission mobility and infrastructure construction in partnership with national and local governments, electric power companies, and other industries.

With circumstance of spreading advanced driver assistance systems and developing fully autonomous driving technologies drivers are expected to spend more time in their vehicles, making it even more important for that space to be pleasant and safe. Nissan Green Program 2022 (NGP2022) is calling for research and development not just to make exhaust emissions cleaner but also to improve in-cabin air quality as well.

  1. PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle): Established by the California Air Resources Board
  2. U-LEV (Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle): Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle. A vehicle producing 75% less nitrogen oxide (NOx) and non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) than the level prescribed in the 2000 emission standards (“New long-term regulation”).

VOC and exhaust gas emission reduction at manufacturing facilities

With regard to the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs*), substances that are volatile at ordinary temperatures, such as formaldehyde and toluene, we reviewed parts and adhesives that make up seats, door trims and floor carpets in the cabin. Nissan sets stricter voluntary standards as compared to reference values in local legislations or the automobile industry in general, and is obliged to clear the standards from new models introduced to the market from July 2007 .

On the other hand, though nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxide (SOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emission are typically well managed automobile manufacturing plants, Nissan is concerned with promoting measures to further control NOx, SOx and VOC emissions. We are working on activities to reduce both the amount of substances used, in case of VOCs, and the amount of emissions, in case of NOx and SOx, by thoroughly managing the control standards and systems regarding substances released to the atmosphere. In addition, we are aiming to meet the regulations of each country at a higher level.

Additionally, we are working to increase the recovery of cleaning solvents and other chemicals and reduce the amounts of these substances emitted from our plants ahead of the implementation of new regulations in each country where we operate. We are also systematically switching to lines using water-based paints, which have fewer VOCs, and increasing the recycling rate for waste paint thinner in order to cut down on the total volume of VOCs used.

For example, VOC emissions from the Kyushu Plant water-based paint line are now less than 20 g/m2 of painted surface, and we are maintaining one of the best levels in the industry. Water-based paint lines have also been introduced in our Plant as well as the Aguascalientes Plant in Mexico, the Resende Plant in Brazil, the Smyrna Plant in the United States, the Huadu Plant in China and other plants.

Painting lines and other processes in automobile production consume tremendous amounts of heat. We have lowered NOx and SOx emissions by introducing low NOx burners in the ovens and boilers that are sources of that heart, and by switching from heavy oil and kerosene to fuels with low SOx emissions for these ovens and boilers.

  • VOC:Volatile Organic Compounds acronym. Generic terminology for organic compounds that have high volatility and are gaseous in normal atmospheric conditions.