EMISSIONS -Advanced technology from vehicle manufacturers and, increasingly, aftermarket suppliers is at the heart of many of the moves that are currently underway to clean up our urban air, as the focus on creating cleaner and greener cities around the UK puts a firm focus on road transport.
With incoming Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s proposals to bring forward the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the capital by one year, to 2019, comes an increased need for delivery companies to address stringent air quality targets. And this is made even harder by the upsurge in demand for home deliveries that has driven a resurgence through the light commercial vehicle market. Stricter restrictions are also planned for pre-Euro 4 diesel-powered vehicles within London, which could mean fleets investing in new vehicles, or adapting their own vans and trucks to meet the requirements.
Transport News Brief reported last month that the UK government will help out the transport industry by committing up to £19 million, including all stakeholders from small delivery companies running a few vans, to larger, national distribution companies who have a large number of trucks. Beyond this, there are many other options for operators to consider, above and beyond the cleaner vehicles that the major manufacturers will bring to market.
One major operator leading the way is Sainsbury’s, which is trialing a delivery truck that is cooled by a liquid-nitrogen-powered engine from Dearman. The supermarket hopes that the engine will help it meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 30% between 2005 and 2020.
Dual-fuel also remains a viable option for fleets looking to reduce emissions, and one of the options comes from Gasrec, the liquified gas supplier. At last year’s CV Show, Gasrec – alongside converter Dieselgas – debuted the UK’s first DAF Euro 6 dual-fuel truck and the companies continue to attract interest from operators who are keen to explore alternatives to straight diesel power.
The growth in popularity of both liquid and compressed natural gas vehicle fuels is supported by an expanding infrastructure around the UK road network. Dieselgas (formerly Prins Autogas) was the first company to successfully convert a new DAF Euro 6 vehicle to run on dual-fuel (compressed natural gas and diesel). Prior to this breakthrough the industry struggled in trying to achieve lower emissions and meet the all-important Euro 6 targets.
“It was exciting to see the success of the first DAF Euro 6 conversion to dual-fuel,” says Chris Thornycroft Smith, Gasrec non-executive director. “It came at a time when we had a host of vehicle manufacturers moving forward with their R&D programmes to advance the development of gas vehicles for the future as demand for the technology grows.”
And now Iveco looks set to be the first major manufacturer to press forward with CNG, having this week confirmed it believes it to be the fuel of the near future for the heavy commercial market, with the Iveco Stralis NP (Natural Power) about to go on sale across Europe.
Ulemco supports a growing fleet of at eats 20 retrofitted commercial vehicles that run on hydrogen via a range of hubs and stations around the UK. The work in Fife is part of the Levenmouth Community Energy Partnership that will also see the conversion of five Ford Transit vans and 10 Renault HyKangoo vans to hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell operation.
“Fife is leading the way in clean energy. We envisage Levenmouth Community Energy Partnership becoming home to one of Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles,” says Councillor Lesley Laird, deputy leader and executive spokesperson for economy and planning.
At the other end of the vehicle spectrum there is future potential for cleaner cities in a consortium led by automtiive technology engineers Ricardo and supported by the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies UK Ltd, Ford Motor Company and the University of Nottingham that is looking at new hybrid power for vans.
The ADEPT (advanced diesel-electric powertrain) programme has been scaled for use on small LCV-sized vehicles – the donor prototype was a Ford Focus passenger car – but the group has not ruled out the possibility of it being applied to larger vehicles, or even trucks.
The key aim of the consortium is to demonstrate the advanced 48V mild hybrid powertrain architecture, which is capable of delivering near full hybrid-scale diesel fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. This reduction is achieved, according to the group, without compromising increasingly stringent European exhaust emission regulations.
The group – backed up by its own research and tests – believes that the integration of hybrid and emissions control systems has the potential to deliver up to a 10-12% reduction in fuel consumption, equivalent to sub-80g/km of CO2 emissions (NEDC). In addition, and of great importance to fleets that are operating on tight budgets and within small margins, the technology can be delivered at lower costs than a more traditional approach of optimising each system separately. Initial analysis shows that costs (based on Ricardo’s estimation) of less than €80 per gram of CO2 reduction for every kilometre travelled is feasible through ADEPT technology. Ricardo believes the above package is very competitive with other fuel economy solutions such as full hybridisation.
This approach of intelligent electrification enables highly aggressive engine downsizing and down-speeding beyond what might normally be possible other than through more expensive hybrid approaches. This is achieved through the use of torque assist from electrically harvested energy, temporarily stored in a 48V advanced lead-carbon battery with a high rate partial state-of-charge capability similar to a supercapacitor, in combination with 48V electrified ancillaries.
It is likely that no one approach is likely to be the be the dominant one as a solution for reducing urban emissions, but the companies that are driving the technologies will certainly give manufacturers something to think about when developing future generations of their vehicles.