Air Quality Awards: Air Quality Champion Nominee Niki Welch

Posted on: Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Katy Blake

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Later today, we’ll be at the Air Quality Awards in London to unveil the winner of our “Air Quality Champion” award. Here’s our last finalist, Niki Welch.

Niki Welch, Head of Retrofit Engineering, has worked at Eminox for 21-years. Eminox provides innovative design and engineering solutions to heavy-duty vehicle operators and manufacturers, across the globe, and Niki thrives on the complex challenges faced when designing and delivering technologically-advanced exhaust after-treatment systems. His work within Engineering and Applications has been instrumental in reducing harmful gases emitted from diesel heavy-duty vehicles. Poor air quality is responsible for around 50,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. Worldwide, air pollution is responsible for around 7-million premature deaths and the World Health Organisation classed diesel exhaust emissions as carcinogenic. Niki has been involved in developing over 100 different NOx-reducing exhaust after-treatment systems and retrofitting them to over 4,500 inner-city buses in the UK and also for major city projects in Copenhagen, Barcelona and Hong Kong. This has ensured buses operating across those cities meet real-world Euro VI tailpipe emissions standards and achieve near zero-emissions; making the air we breathe cleaner in our towns and cities.

Niki leads the team of professional SCRT® engineers dedicated to SCRT® developments and management of our installations for the life of the system; ensuring the public continues to benefit from breathing air with reduced amounts of harmful gases every day each bus is in operation. The important work he has undertaken meant our systems were first to be approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme which assures bus operators and guarantees local authorities ‘best value’. They trust their buses will benefit our societies now and in the future with an Eminox system in operation. Pioneering organisations, including Transport for London who are currently embarking on the world’s largest SCRT retrofit programme to improve 5,000 vehicles and the Mayor of London’s Office, have understood the value of improving public health in urban environments for decades. Niki has worked closely with these major organisations and his work continues to have very positive results on combating poor air quality. His team has been involved in designing, manufacturing and fitting over 65% of London bus upgrades fitted in the last 12 months, with many more on order.

It’s now widely recognised by the political focus, and the activities of groups such as Client Earth, the impact on NOx emissions is critical to combating this silent killer. The systems Niki has developed reduces particulate matter, a known carcinogen, by up to 95% and Nitrogen Oxides by up to 99% from heavy-duty vehicles. His work has resulted in Eminox becoming the largest supplier and chosen technology partner for five of the main London bus operators involved in the Department for Transport Clean Bus Technology Fund. As demands from Government have changed, Niki has been fundamental in evolving the Eminox SCRT® systems; maintaining a very reliable and robust technologically-advanced application through collaboration with international bus operators and his team. Our latest Generation 3 catalyst technology upgrades vehicles to achieve Euro VI equivalent emission levels over real-world drive cycles. What this means is that NOx; which damages ecosystems though acidification and eutrophication, is reduced in very significant numbers. The most dangerous component of NOx to health is NO2. It can cause inflammation of airways, aggravate respiratory illness and also impair lung function in children. It impacts upon our most vulnerable members of our society and Niki has been at the forefront of the technology advancements in reducing NOx emissions from older vehicles.

Each vehicle retrofitted with the Eminox SCRT® technology reduces NOx emissions by approximately 1-Tonne of NOx/p.a. When we consider all the vehicles deployed over the last 10-years, this equates to removing a figure in excess of 25,000 Tonnes of harmful NOx from the air we breathe. At today’s EU cost to society figures, this equates to a significant saving in health service costs in the region of £631million. The Government target to reach a zero-emissions future by 2040 is a challenging one and sees retrofit technology as the solution to bridging the gap between today’s environmental concerns and proposed introductions of zero-emissions legislation. Niki is at the forefront of this challenge. He strives for perfection and has received many compliments over the years. Customers have said our systems are the Rolls Royce of exhausts, he’s been told they are like pieces of art! This is a testimony to the pride Niki takes in achieving the best for his customers and for their stakeholders.