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Department for Transport launches £300,000 Air Quality competition seeking new concepts to mitigate NOX ‘post tail pipe’

22 October 2014 - The Department for Transport (DfT) from today is inviting entries to a competition seeking concepts to help mitigate NOx emissions from road traffic, offering a total of about £300,000 to fully-fund projects designed to address air quality on the strategic road network.

The Air Quality - NOx mitigation competition focuses on improving air quality in localised areas, seeking solutions to mitigate NOX ‘post tail pipe’ in particular.

The competition is designed to provide ‘proof of concept’ for effectively mitigating NOX. The Department will 100% fund four to six projects, budgeted at £25,000 to £50,000 each, addressing one of the three different challenges in relation to NOX air quality.

The findings of the projects will need to be delivered by end of March 2015, so the timescale for submitting entries is pressing. The majority of the work should be completed by that time with, at least, a summary of key findings.

Entries (see below) must be completed 5pm on 20 November 2014. Projects should be capable of being started by December 2014 and a final report is required to be delivered by May 2015.



Transport is a contributor to polluting emissions and therefore managing the environmental impacts of road transport is an important aspect of DfT’s role.

For many environmental impacts there are a range of tried-and-tested measures that can be implemented to eliminate or reduce their adverse effects.

There are, however, limited air quality solutions that are both cost-effective and broadly acceptable.

A particular priority is reducing roadside concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) through control of emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOX). Focusing on NOX has become imperative, particularly in light of the July 2014 update report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which indicates that more of the UK Road Network is likely to fail the EU target limit by 2020 than previously thought. By meeting the EU target on NO2, the DfT will also be helping to improve the health of the population.

The Department has already invested in green technology for vehicles. To complement these developments, this competition aims to provide short term solutions by investing in new technologies and innovative ideas to mitigate NOX emission levels post tail pipe.


Competition open to all sectors

To attract innovative proposals that would not necessarily get traction through traditional competitive means, the competition is designed to be easy to apply to (although rigorous in assessment), and does not require applicants to fall into any specific demographic or economic criteria.

It is open to academics, researchers or consortium, partnerships, SMEs and corporations. All applications must however ensure that they will provide adequate scientific validation for their proposals. 



  • The competition opens today (22 October 2014). The closing date for proposals is 5pm 20 November 2014.
  • Proposals will be reviewed and projects started by December 2014 with project work to commence immediately.
  • Project duration is approximately 12-15 weeks with the delivery of draft reports and findings presented by end of March 2015 and final reports delivered by end of May 2015.


The Opportunities

The Air Quality - NOx mitigation competition will be looking at improving air quality in localised areas, seeking solutions to mitigate NOX post tail pipe in particular. The competition is therefore designed to provide proof of concept for effectively mitigating NOX. The Department will run the competition, for feasible solutions addressing one of the three different aspects of the NOX air quality challenge:

  • Landscape/Infrastructure mitigation measures on the SRN;
  • Landscape/Infrastructure mitigation measures in the urban environment;
  • Traffic management measures to mitigate NOX. 

Organisations/consortia can submit up to three separate proposals (each addressing a different one of the three NOX challenges described above).


Details of the competition

  • A single stage Grant Application Form needs to be completed accompanied with a Pricing Table. Completed versions of these documents should be e-mailed by 5pm 20 November to: Research.Grants@dft.gsi.gov.uk
  • Approx. £300k is allocated in total for this Air Quality research with the individual projects each being valued approximately £25K to £50K, therefore potentially this will lead to commissioning of about four and six projects in total depending on the quality of the proposals received.
  • Solutions that meet requirements for early stage of the TRL scale 2 and 4 are sought.
  • Projects do not have to be collaborative.
  • Output should be a report outlining a feasible new concept that could be implemented to help mitigate NOX post tail pipe. The competition seeks new solutions (although novel application of existing proven technologies from other industries or challenges will be considered).
  • Examples of solutions could be to use smart materials (e.g. absorption) or build urban environment (design to diffuse or absorb, etc.) to mitigate NOX.
  • Transparent guidance on the marking scheme used to assess the proposals is included in the documentation.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will be provided an evaluation score (based on the Evaluation Criteria) for their proposals.


What is out of scope?

  • Solutions that involve changes in engine or vehicle.
  • Proposals that merely seek to refine and or improve the way we model air quality impacts.
  • Proposals that attempt to reduce NOX concentrations from areas outside of the Road Networks.
  • Proposals that merely highlight or copy current or previous NOX roadside solutions in the UK or outside UK.
  • Solutions that focus on other pollutants and ignore NOX.
  • Barriers impregnated with titanium dioxide have already been tested and therefore are out of scope.
  • This competition is seeking to discover a new proof of concept for the challenge of mitigating NOX and therefore not funding product development on the TRL scale 5-9 (see Figure 1 in the Grant Specification document) e.g. testing prototype equipment/technology are out of scope.

Accompanying documents


Forms to complete:

These forms are required to be received by 5pm at:


Webinar for interested parties

Two webinar sessions have been organised to allow interested parties to ask questions:

Click on the dates to register for the webinars.

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