Autovolt Magazine

Road trials report shows clear path ahead for low-carbon HGVs

Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies, today announced the release of its report findings from the Low Carbon Truck and Refuelling Infrastructure Demonstration Trial (Low Carbon Truck Trial). The trial was commissioned by the UK government to support the procurement of low-emission heavy-goods vehicle (HGV) technologies and their supporting infrastructure.

In partnership with engineering consultancy Atkins, Cenex measured the impact of the nationwide HGV trial. The trial comprised 12 consortia projects undertaken by 35 participating companies, including fleets, emission-testing companies, station providers, universities and product developers. These projects deployed more than 370 low carbon vehicles, including dual-fuel vehicles, dedicated bio-methane and natural gas vehicles, and some trucks running entirely on used cooking oil. In addition, 15 refuelling stations were commissioned or upgraded across the country.

The results of the four-year, £23.4m trial were reported to UK government funders last month. Policy-makers have a valuable new data to assist with evaluating the effectiveness of alternatively fuelled trucks and initiating a publicly accessible UK gas refuelling infrastructure. The fleet community is using the report findings to make informed choices about the adoption of low carbon truck technologies in their fleets.

The trial measured the low carbon trucks’ performance over four years and a total of 65 million kilometres. Impressive CO2 emission savings (up to 85%) were available from trucks operating with bio-fuels (used cooking oil or biomethane). However, the report highlighted that limited CO2 savings were available from trucks operating on natural gas. It also showed that the retro-fit dual fuel gas technologies emitted significant amounts of methane in the exhaust gas stream and needed further development; as this ‘methane slip’ resulted in an overall increase in Greenhouse Gas emissions. Finally, the report shares key barriers to large-scale low-emission truck implementation and provides the industry with recommended solutions.

The Department for Transport (DfT), the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), in part, provided £11.3m in government funding, with an additional investment of £12.1m from industry participants.

Steve Carroll, Head of Transport at Cenex, added: “Cenex is pleased to share the findings from the UK’s largest demonstration of low carbon trucks, which offer real-world evidence of the impact low carbon HGVs can have on UK truck emissions and efficiency. HGVs contribute nearly 20 per cent of GHG emissions from road transport in the UK today. This trial highlights the importance of running large scale technology evaluation trials and demonstrates how investment in the right technology and infrastructure can significantly reduce the impact large-vehicle fleets have on our country’s overall emission levels.”

The full report, as delivered to the UK Department of Transport, is available here (3.6MB PDF).