The Department for Transport (DfT) and the KTN today held the first of two webinars briefing a good number of interested parties on the background, the competition scope and how to apply to the Air Quality - NOx mitigation competition.
The DfT stated that cities in the UK are not alone in Europe in exceeding the air quality limits laid down in EU air quality legislation (2008/50/EC).
But there’s growing evidence for NO2 causing adverse health effects, and financial consequences. Fine particulate matter can pass through to human lungs and contributes to cardio vascular disease - and 29,000 early deaths a year could be attributable to this, with costs of poor health and early death considered at more than £10BN a year.
Transport is the main source of poor air quality at the roadside.
There’s political background too, with manifesto promises expected for ultra low emission areas to be introduced in UK cities.
Draconian measures to address air quality, such as banning diesels, are not considered popularly acceptabloe so the DfT is looking for Innovative ways to deal with the problem in, localised, affected areas.
The DfT hopes to approve 4 – 6 projects, 100% funded, of between £25 and £50K each.
Cleaner vehicles not expected to make enough of a difference to reach 2020 targets
Air quality improvements have been achieved from cleaner energy production; more efficient industrial processes; unleaded gasoline and ultra low sulphur diesel; and the introduction of cleaner vehicles.
But hoped-for reductions in NOx remain elusive. It was noted in the DfT presentation that this, ironically, is a sign of efficient combustion in engines.
The annual average NO2 roadside concentrations, according to EU air quality standards, should not exceed 40 μg/m3 (20 ppbv) and one hour maximum 200 μg/m3; not to be exceeded more than 18 times a calendar year.
However, a July 2014 Defra report found only 5 of 43 zones will be compliant by 2015.
DfT stated that the expected uptake of new cleaner vehicles is not expected to be at a sufficient pace to meet higher 2020 targets.
New approaches wanted
DfT are looking for a change from the usual vehicle based fixes for tail pipe emissions, where most concepts have been tried and either implemented or considered insufficient or difficult to implement. This competition seeks to fund post tail pipe technologies.
The deadline for the competition is very pressing (5pm on 20 November) but costs can be invoiced for this current financial year.
Air Quality Challenges for Short term Measures to Mitigate NOx Post Tail pipe
Projects should be proof-of-concept studies around the novel application of existing research or technology. The seminar also clarified that the studies should be:
Feasible new research ideas.
Technologies with a TRL 2 to 4 are applicable
Collaborative or single entity.
The mitigation must be post tail pipe
Modified fuels are out of scope.
Example projects could be smart materials designed to absorb or diffuse NOx, to vehicle journey reduction, or congestion reduction concepts.
Projects should look at the following three specific NOx air challenges:
Landscape/Infrastructure mitigation measures on the Strategic Road Network;
Landscape/Infrastructure mitigation measures in the urban environment;
Traffic management measures to mitigate NOx.
A clean slate
According to Mark Matchett, KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager - Road and Automotive, “Solving this problem will impact of the health of the nation and also reduce health care costs. This is a clean slate and the DfT is asking for the collective UK thinking cap to swing into action.”
“Interestingly DfT explained that projects will be judged with an 80% weighting towards quality (and 20% on pricing) and that successful projects will need to demonstrate a clear route to implementation.”
Applications and Seminar number 2 this Thursday (6 November)
For more details and to download the competition document pack see the competition page Department for Transport launches £300,000 Air Quality competition seeking new concepts to mitigate NOX ‘post tail pipe’.
For those that missed the first today - the second briefing webinar DfT Nox Competition Briefing Webinar No 2 - on Thursday, 6 November 2014 from 13:45 to 14:45 (GMT) - is open for registrations.