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The Evolution of Automotive Brake Emission: Part 3 of 3

Updated: Jun 27

Written by: Carlos Agudelo

An image depicting a cityscape with smog and another with no smog.
Automotive Brake Emission also contribute to Air Pollution

Image Credit: Tomskyhaha, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Ten things the industry did to reduce brake emissions — a view from 2032

In my last blog, I discussed ways to reduce brake emission: from reformulations of brake friction material formulations to innovations in brake coupling technology leading to less wear.


6. Accelerated electrification

The combination of multiple industries and government strategies, including a) fair trade certification for rare earth metals for electronics and raw materials for electric batteries, b) propulsion battery recycling reaching 80 % since 2030, c) stable regional supply chains for the past five years accommodating geopolitical changes in Europe, and d) the average electric vehicle price dropping below $25,000 in 2022 dollars, accelerated the pace of electrification predicted ten years ago by the International Energy Agency. A significant catalyst for this acceleration in E.V. penetration was the full deployment of The Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), a multi-governmental policy forum established in 2010 under the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM); https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022. Governments, regions, cities, and industries also completed plans to extend charging networks with clean energy for over 90 % of the passenger cars, 95 % of commercial vehicles, and 100 % of public transport. China, Korea, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and the U.K. led the deployment of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV). These countries were also leaders in achieving (China and Korea voluntary endorsing) the pledge of the Fit for 55 initiative from the European Commission.

Source: Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022 (windows.net)


As an intermediate step toward carbon neutrality, the E.U. has raised its 2030 climate ambition and commitments to cut emissions by at least 55 % by 2030. The accelerated electrification has reduced brake emissions by ten-fold compared to baselines developed by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) in 2023.


7. Voluntary compliance programs

In the United States, following the Better Brake Rule developed and implemented almost 20 years ago, MEMA and its Brake Manufacturers Council launched the Better Brakes Rule (BBR) 2.0 program. CARB, EPA, and the Office of Environmental Justice (within the U.S. Department of Justice) sponsored the program for brake systems and friction materials suppliers, including the Aftermarket. The BBR2.0 uses laboratory- or vehicle-level methods to demonstrate a reduction of at least 75 % of brake emissions (# mg/km/vehicle) compared to the industry baseline developed in 2023. The program has subsections for light passenger cars, delivery vehicles or heavy trucks operating in urban and suburban areas, and public transport. The military and government fleets operate a similar program.


8. Artificial Intelligence for reduced wear

In the early 2020s, the fastest supercomputer in Japan had a cost comparable to the entire AI budget for the United States military (using 2022 budget estimates). A Japanese university developed a data storage device with the capacity to store the equivalent of 1 billion Blue-Ray discs using a 50-mm diamond wafer. Cloud computing services from Amazon and Google led the way in expanding AI tools and methods, making AI available to small and medium-sized companies. Also, the automotive industry leaped and implemented industrywide, open source, standard formats to exchange masked data. The participants include raw material suppliers, component manufacturers, brake system and mechatronics suppliers, vehicle software developers, vehicle manufacturers, the dealership network, research faculties, vehicle CAN data (limited due to data personal protection laws), and independent testing facilities. The AI platform includes databases from the ongoing collaboration between the HEI and the IHME for global exposure and health impacts. This AI initiative enables the simulation and development with reduced physical testing of new systems and designs to minimize frictional braking and optimize the paths to dissipate the vehicle kinetic energy (including active aerodynamic resistance and regenerative braking). To ensure a 360° view of the vehicle parc, the data available to the industry also incorporate statistics on vehicle sales, traffic volumes, vehicle crashes with or without bodily injury, fatalities, brake or powertrain service jobs, recalls, and energy consumption (fossil fuels and electricity). This activity has found new relationships and patterns that previous models could not predict. A technical AI panel works towards improving the ability of the industry to understand new findings and make them available to the industry for individual developments.


9. Multi-sector programs

The lessons learned during the development and rollout of the European regulation in 2025 to limit brake emissions for light vehicles have extended to commercial vehicles, public transit, and rail. The different programs now enable simulation tools to demonstrate compliance, and the simulation methods and their toolchains have separate certification and surveillance programs. The rapid introduction of electric jet engines with promising developments for regenerative braking is well underway in the commercial aircraft sector. The steady reduction in yearly passenger-miles-traveled for business has created incentives to reduce operating costs and the need to use smaller aircraft with more frequent flights to offer more efficient schedules.


10. Rethinking traffic and cities

Reducing brake emissions takes more than just reducing brake wear. A holistic system approach has become the predominant tool to define the feasibility and sustainability of different technologies, considering the lifecycle assessment (LCA) of total emissions. AI and industry-level analytics and open-source databases catapulted this approach. By considering multimodal transport (air, rail, public transport, autonomous regional shared vehicles, personal vehicles, and intelligent bicycles), the overall carbon footprint and PM footprint exhibited steady reductions for the past several years. The process includes urban planners, authorities, environmental groups, and the representation of local communities. Remote work and no-car zones have become essential to reducing traffic and individual transportation use. China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, northern Europe, and certain regions in the United States have embraced the program making significant progress in reducing overall air pollution. Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East (with a few exceptions) are catching up fast with support from the United Nations programs.


The transportation industry is an integral part of society and its future. By keeping a broad perspective on our strategies, plans, and operations, remember the five principles for an Environment of Peace from the STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (SIPRI) report on ENVIRONMENT OF PEACE – Security in a new era of risk: 1 – Think fast, think ahead, act now; 2 – Cooperate to survive and thrive; 3 – Expect the unexpected—be prepared to adapt; 4 – Only a just and peaceful transition will succeed; and 5 – By everyone, for everyone.


These are just some imagined futures that may happen based on the tools, the challenges, and the technologies under development in 2022. The literature is vast and is growing fast in most aspects of the transportation sector and our collective future. Dare to imagine different futures with their associated opportunities and risks. You will find yourself and your team more prepared and optimistic.


“It’s better to be surprised by a simulation than blindsided by reality.” Jane McGonigal – Imaginable, 2022

Carlos Agudelo is Director of Applications Engineering for LINK Group, developing new features and systems based on data and experimentation, emphasizing non-exhaust brake emissions and Hardware-in-the-Loop. Carlos obtained his bachelor’s degree in Production Engineering from EAFIT University-Colombia (in association with Aachen University and Ruhr University Bochum) and a Six Sigma Black Belt certification. He is Chairman of the SAE Brake Dynamometer and the Vehicle Dynamics Standards Committees, Vice-Chairman of the SAE Brake Lining Standards Committee, and the Truck & Bus Hydraulic Brake Committee. He is active on SAE, ISO, and PMP Committees and task forces. Carlos is a member of and an instructor in Brake Academy.

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