Air quality and passenger comfort in an air-conditioned bus micro-environment

  • Xiaoxuan Zhu
  • Li Lei
  • Xingshen Wang
  • Yinghui Zhang


In this study, passenger comfort and the air pollution status of the micro-environmental conditions in an air-conditioned bus were investigated through questionnaires, field measurements, and a numerical simulation. As a subjective analysis, passengers’ perceptions of indoor environmental quality and comfort levels were determined from questionnaires. As an objective analysis, a numerical simulation was conducted using a discrete phase model to determine the diffusion and distribution of pollutants, including particulate matter with a diameter < 10 μm (PM10), which were verified by experimental results. The results revealed poor air quality and dissatisfactory thermal comfort conditions in Jinan’s air-conditioned bus system. To solve these problems, three scenarios (schemes A, B, C) were designed to alter the ventilation parameters. According to the results of an improved simulation of these scenarios, reducing or adding air outputs would shorten the time taken to reach steady-state conditions and weaken the airflow or lower the temperature in the cabin. The airflow pathway was closely related to the layout of the air conditioning. Scheme B lowered the temperature by 0.4 K and reduced the airflow by 0.01 m/s, while scheme C reduced the volume concentration of PM10 to 150 μg/m3. Changing the air supply angle could further improve the airflow and reduce the concentration of PM10. With regard to the perception of airflow and thermal comfort, the scheme with an airflow provided by a 60° nozzle was considered better, and the concentration of PM10 was reduced to 130 μg/m3.


Air-conditioned bus micro-environment Passenger comfort level Discrete phase model (DPM) Inhalable particles PM10 Ventilation parameters 



We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Peng Wang, assistant engineer, from Shandong Shuangliang Hengli Power Engineering Co., Ltd., who participated in the study.

Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant No. 11372166) and the key research project of Shandong Yingcai University (project number: 17YCZDZR06).


  1. Adar, S. D., Davey, M., Sullivan, J. R., Compher, M., Szpiro, A., & Liu, L. J. (2008). Predicting airborne particle levels aboard Washington state school buses. Atmospheric Environment, 42(33), 7590–7599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adar, S. D., Filigrana, P. A., Clements, N., & Peel, J. L. (2014). Ambient coarse particulate matter and human health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Environmental Health Reports, 1(3), 258–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrat, A., Barthelemy, M., & Vespignani, A. (2005). The effects of spatial constraints on the evolution of weighted complex networks. Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, 2005(5), 799–803.Google Scholar
  4. Chan, L. Y., & Wu, W. Y. (1993). A study of bus commuter and pedestrian exposure to traffic air pollution in Hong Kong. Environment International, 1993(19), 121–132.Google Scholar
  5. Chang, J. K., & Kim, J. B. (1993). Investigation of bus duct system for optimum cooling performance. International Pacific Conference on Automotive Engineering, SAE Technical Paper 931956. Google Scholar
  6. Chen, X., Zhang, G., Zhang, Q., & Chen, H. (2011). Mass concentrations of BTEX inside air environment of buses in Changsha, China. Building & Environment, 46(2), 421–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, R., Kan, H., Chen, B., Wei, H., Bai, Z., Song, G., & Pan, G. (2012). Association of particulate air pollution with daily mortality: the China Air Pollution and Health Effects Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 175(11), 1173–1181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deng, J. L. (1989). Introduction grey system theory [J]. Journal of Grey System, 1(1), 191–243.Google Scholar
  9. Fondelli, M. C., Chellini, E., Yli-Tuomi, T., Cenni, I., Gasparrini, A., Nava, S., Garcia-Orellana, I., Lupi, A., Grechi, D., Mallone, S., & Jantunen, M. (2008). Fine particle concentrations in buses and taxis in Florence, Italy. Atmospheric Environment, 42(35), 8185–8193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heinsohn, R. J., O’Donnell, W. R., & Tao, J. (1993). Automobile passenger compartment ventilation. Paper presented at the 1993 Winter Meeting of ASHRAE Transactions, Chicago, IL, USA, 01/23-27/93.Google Scholar
  11. Hsu, D. J., & Huang, H. L. (2009). Concentrations of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter in buses on highways in Taiwan. Atmospheric Environment, 43(36), 5723–5730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Huang, L., & Han, T. (2002). Validation of 3-D passenger compartment hot soak and cool-down analysis for virtual thermal comfort engineering. SAE Technical Paper, 2002-01-1304,
  13. Huang, K. D., Tzeng, S. C., Jeng, T. M., & Chiang, W. D. (2006). Air-conditioning system of an intelligent vehicle-cabin. Applied Energy, 83(6), 545–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kang, Y., Wang, Y., & Zhong, K. (2011). Effects of supply air temperature and inlet location on particle dispersion in displacement ventilation rooms. Particuology, 9(6), 619–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kaur, S., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2009). Determinants of personal exposure to PM2.5, ultrafine particle counts, and CO in a transport microenvironment. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(13), 4737–4743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kayacan, E., Ulutas, B., & Kaynak, O. (2010). Grey system theory-based models in time series prediction. Expert Systems with Applications, 37(2), 1784–1789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Knibbs, L. D., & de Dear, R. J. (2010). Exposure to ultrafine particles and PM2.5 in four Sydney transport modes. Atmospheric Environment, 44(2010), 3224–3227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lin, C. H., Lelli, M. A., Han, T., Niemiec, R. J., & Hammond, D. C. (1991). An experimental and computational study of cooling in a simplified GM-10 passenger compartment. International Congress & Exposition, SAE Technical Paper 910216. Google Scholar
  19. Molle, R., Mazoué, S., Géhin, É., & Ionescu, A. (2013). Indoor–outdoor relationships of airborne particles and nitrogen dioxide inside Parisian buses. Atmospheric Environment, 69(69), 240–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moreno, T., Reche, C., Rivas, I., Minguillón, M. C., Martins, V., Vargas, C., Rivas, I., Cruz Minguillón, M., Martins, V., Vargas, C., Buonanno, G., Parga, J., Pandolfi, M., Brines, M., Ealo, M., Sofia Fonseca, A., Amato, F., Sosa, G., Capdevila, M., de Miguel, E., Querol, X., & Gibbons, W. (2015). Urban air quality comparison for bus, tram, subway and pedestrian commutes in Barcelona. Environmental Research, 142(2015), 495–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MSN, S. W. C. (1999). ASHRAE proposes ventilation addenda. (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) (brief article). Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 44(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mui, K. W., & Shek, K. W. (2005). Influence of in-tunnel environment to in-bus air quality and thermal condition in Hong Kong. Science of the Total Environment, 347(2005), 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mui, K. W., Wong, L. T., Wu, C. L., & Lai, A. C. (2009). Numerical modeling of exhaled droplet nuclei dispersion and mixing in indoor environments. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 167(1–3), 736–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nagano, K. (1998). The Society of Heating, Air-Conditioning Sanitary Engineers of Japan NII-Electronic Library Service. Collected papers of Institute of health workers: Air to reconcile, 23 (1998) 69: 39–47.Google Scholar
  25. Qiu, H., Yu, I. T., Tian, L., Wang, X., Tse, L. A., Tam, W., & Wong, T. W. (2012). Effects of coarse particulate matter on emergency hospital admissions for respiratory diseases: a time-series analysis in Hong Kong. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(4), 572–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rongyi, Z. (1999). Concise air conditioning design manual: China Architecture & Building Press.Google Scholar
  27. Shojaee, M. H., Tehrani, F. P. H., Noorpoor, A. R., & Adili, M. R. (2004) Analysis of vehicle passenger compartment HVAC using simulation. In SAE 2004 World Congress & Exhibition Google Scholar
  28. Song, W. W. (2009). The influence of passenger activities on exposure to particles inside buses. Atmospheric Environment, 43(39), 6271–6278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Weichenthal, S., Dufresne, A., & Infante-Rivard, C. (2007). Indoor ultrafine particles and childhood asthma: exploring a potential public health concern. 17(2), 81–91.Google Scholar
  30. Xiang, L. P., & Wang, H. Q. (2011). Numerical simulation of pollutant transport within a vehicle cabin: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  31. Yamamoto, S., Hirabayashi, H., Yajima, K., Suzuki, T., Itoh, M., Okuyama, H., et al. (1991). Flat resistance for blower control unit of automobile air conditioner. United States Patent 5000662. Google Scholar
  32. Yoshida, T., & Matsunaga, I. (2006). A case study on identification of airborne organic compounds and time courses of their concentrations in the cabin of a new car for private use. Environment International, 32(1), 58–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang, Q., & Zhu, Y. (2010). Measurements of ultrafine particles and other vehicular pollutants inside school buses in South Texas. Atmospheric Environment, 44(2), 253–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhang, Q., Fischer, H. J., Weiss, R. E., & Zhu, Y. (2013). Ultrafine particle concentrations in and around idling school buses. Atmospheric Environment, 69(4), 65–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhu, S., Demokritou, P., & Spengler, J. (2010). Experimental and numerical investigation of micro-environmental conditions in public transportation buses. Building & Environment, 45(10), 2077–2088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhu, S., Srebric, J., Spengler, J. D., & Demokritou, P. (2012). An advanced numerical model for the assessment of airborne transmission of influenza in bus microenvironments. Building & Environment, 47(1), 67–75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoxuan Zhu
    • 1
  • Li Lei
    • 2
  • Xingshen Wang
    • 3
  • Yinghui Zhang
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Automotive EngineeringShandong Yingcai UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.School of Energy and Power EngineeringShandong UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.School of Traffic and TransportationBeijing Jiaotong UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations