National Physical Laboratory

World Metrology Day 2017

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is celebrating World Metrology Day 2017, marking 142 years since the signing of the Metre Convention.

NPL's 3D-printed SI-bots celebrate World Metrology Day 2015
NPL's 3D-printed SI-bots celebrate
World Metrology Day 2015

World Metrology Day is celebrated by over 80 countries each year on 20 May, the date of the signing in 1875. To this day, the agreement provides the basis for a single, coherent system of measurements that are traceable to the International System of Units (SI).

Measurement, like clean water, is often taken for granted, yet from x-rays in hospitals, to filling your car with petrol, modern life is enabled by measurements.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2017 is 'Measurements for Transport'. The construction and infrastructure of transport systems is huge and the measurement challenges are numerous. From extracting crude oil from underground, to refining it, to transporting a quality product to a petrol filling station, involves thousands of accurate measurements. To ensure safe and efficient transport, with minimal environmental impact, requires an astonishing range of measurements, some of which are not so obvious.

The UK's measurement system needs to keep ahead of emerging technologies and look to future measurement needs. With a focus on ultra-low emission vehicles, we are looking at supporting uptake of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by developing an appropriate infrastructure for fuelling hydrogen vehicles. NPL’s measurement expertise is supporting uptake of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles - these vehicles are emission-free at the point of use and fossil fuel usage is eliminated if the hydrogen is generated from renewable energy sources.

NPL is home to one of the first hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK and a key player in the field of hydrogen purity for fuel cell vehicles, providing a range of measurement services to support the growth of the hydrogen economy.

As well as supporting uptake of low-emission hydrogen vehicles, the latest round of EMPIR projects led by NPL aim to improve monitoring of harmful pollutants emitted by vehicles, such as nitrogen dioxide and black carbon.

So next time you jump in your car or fill up with fuel – think of the measurement behind the scenes making all this happen.

World Metrology Day is organised and celebrated jointly by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) with the participation of National Measurement Institutes such as NPL.

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Last Updated: 22 May 2017
Created: 17 May 2017

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