Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

  The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is responsible for promoting and supporting basic, strategic and applied research within its remit for the benefit of the UK. The EPSRC mission is:

    —    to promote and support, by any means, high quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training in engineering and the physical sciences;

    —    to advance knowledge and technology, and provide trained engineers and scientists, to meet the needs of users and beneficiaries thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom and the quality of life of its citizens; and

    —    to provide advice, disseminate knowledge, and promote public understanding in the fields of engineering and the physical sciences.

  The EPSRC currently invests around £500 million a year in a broad range of subjects—from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.

  The Council operates to meet the needs of industry and society by working in partnership with universities to invest in people and scientific discovery and innovation. The knowledge and expertise gained maintains a technological leading edge, builds a strong economy and improves people's quality of life.

  The work of EPSRC is complementary to other research investors including other Research Councils, government agencies, industry and the European Union. The Council actively engages in and encourages partnerships and collaborations across disciplines, boundaries and the world.

  EPSRC also actively promotes public engagement in science, engineering and technology.

  We would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to key research projects supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) directly relevant to your inquiry.

Grant Title
Grant value
Academic Lead
Research Description

Green Logistics
Dr AE Whiteing, Institute of Transport Studies, Leeds Freight transport is a significant source of air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, accidents, noise and vibration. This research programme will examine a range of ways of reducing its environmental impact, many of which will also cut the cost of distribution. The main part of the programme will comprise a series of separate, but inter-linked, modules focusing on measures that companies can adopt to make their logistical operations more "green". The four year programme aims to identify and evaluate a range of measures and technologies with the assistance of a group of partner companies which are heavily involved in various aspects of logistics. It will aim to provide answers to some of the critical questions facing companies and governments that wish to make the distribution of goods more economically and environmentally sustainable.
UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium (SHEC)
Dr T Mays, Chemical Engineering, University of Bath SHEC will target many of the forefront fundamental, multidisciplinary research challenges in the production, storage, distribution and utilization of hydrogen. In addition, we will study the feasibility and acceptability of sustainable hydrogen as an energy carrier through a range of socio-economic projects, ranging from the public awareness and acceptability of hydrogen, impact analyses and regulatory issues.
Platform Grant to Support the Leeds Health Air Quality Noise and Emissions Research Network (LANTERN)
Professor MC Bell, Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds Research will focus on the following areas: (i) to assess the variability of driver behaviour within urban environments and its influence on junction design and emissions (ii) to provide an integrated modelling platform and to extend the micro-simulation models to the prediction of secondary pollutants, (iii) to utilise the tools developed to investigate the influence of a range of traffic management and intelligent transport strategies, whilst including the influence of model uncertainties on the confidence of predictions made (iv) to investigate the factors influencing the toxicological effects of urban particulates matter and their dependence on traffic sources and atmospheric processes, (v) to develop noise modelling tools that are capable of representing individual noise sources within the urban environment and therefore of informing methods for noise abatement.
Impact Of Climate Change On UK Air Transport
Dr R Noland, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London Changes in atmospheric conditions due to climate change will interact with air travel both in terms of how air travel affects climate and how these impacts can be minimized in the future. For example, changes in atmospheric conditions will affect the probability of contrails being formed by aircraft. This has major implications for climate change as contrails and the formation of cirrus clouds have been found to increase warming of the earth's atmosphere (ie, by increasing radiative forcing). One way of dealing with these impacts is by changing flight trajectories, for example by flying lower or flying to avoid the atmospheric conditions that create contrails. This research will allow both the government and the airline industry to finds ways to reduce the impact of the aviation sector on climate change.
Air Quality In Airport Approaches: Impact Of Emissions From Aircraft In Ground Run and Flight
Professor D Raper, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University Emissions from aeroplanes disperse as a result of processes additional to those active in the ambient atmosphere. A lateral diffusion is effected in the aeroplane wake. It is proposed here to develop an eye-safe Lidar system at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), and deploy it in an experiment at a major civil airport (that of Manchester). Particulates and aerosols in the aircraft exhausts will cause a backscattering of the Lidar beam. The capacity to sweep the beam rapidly in either the elevation or azimuth will exist, yielding near-instantaneous spatial maps of the scattering. Supporting spectroscopic data will be obtained remotely by UMIST and Cambridge University, revealing NON concentrations integrated along both horizontal and vertical lines of sight. The data will be used to validate the vortex-transport model, and to reveal the characteristics of the dispersion from aircraft in ground-effect.
A Highly Modular Systems Model For Integrated Assessment Of Aircraft Emissions
Dr AW Schafer, Architecture, University of Cambridge The proposed research aims to go beyond the isolated efforts of atmospheric scientists and travel demand modellers and engineers and build a set of loosely connected models, capable of performing integrated policy analysis. The highly modular system will allow to easily exchange and test different model components for other research groups, government, and industry. The proposed model system offers a wide range of integrated policy analyses, ranging from economic measures (eg the introduction of various types of taxes) over technology measures (eg new engines with lower nitrogen oxide emissions) to operational measures (eg change in flight routings and cruise altitude) and their global and local atmospheric impacts.
Centre for Rail Systems Research (RRUK)
Professor W Powrie. School of Civil Engineering and The Environment, University of Southampton As part of the portfolio of projects forming the Centre for Rail Systems Research, the power futures project conducted preliminary analysis on some of the possible future power and fuel combinations with regard to their economic and environmental characteristics. The model shows that significant reductions in specific CO2 emissions can be achieved using different fuel chains in conjunction with the new technologies. In comparison with a diesel ICE base case, emissions can be reduced by as much as -80% under different scenarios. Hybridisation, electrification and the use of fuel cells all offer promising benefits. However, many of these options offer significant increases in cost for the near term, of up to 30%.
Lean Powertrain Development (LPDev)
£303,227 and £249,657
Dr S Akehurst, Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath To achieve future emissions and fuel consumption targets such that the Diesel can be classified as "clean", a range of low polluting technologies are being developed. These technologies can be very expensive and complex to control, they also interact with each other and sometimes the combination may not have the overall potential that was first envisaged. This project aims to use computer models to simulate the performance of modern Diesel engines and the vehicle in which they are fitted. We plan to use these models such that will "interact" and "talk" with one another with some degree of intelligence such that they can identify the likely technology winners without the need for a lot of time consuming test work.
PLATFORM: Computational Combustion Engineering
Professor W Jones, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London The proposed research is aimed at providing a platform for the development of computationally based modelling techniques, based on Large Eddy Simulation (LES), for the prediction of turbulent combusting flows, which will contribute to the development of future technology for sustainable energy with improved efficiency and reliability.
Platform: Future Propulsion Systems Thermodynamic Performance Research
Professor R Singh, School of Engineering, Cranfield University It will be necessary, in the next five to 10 years, to define new propulsion systems and aircraft that will allow us to fly with much less damage to the atmosphere. The proposed research is aimed at providing some of the tools and the knowledge into where the best solutions may lie. We therefore seek to bring together several futuristic components into advanced engines. There are a very large number of possibilities, including safe "explosions" within an engine, combining advances in electricity generators, heat exchangers and pulsating flows. In addition to this, "intelligent" engines and airframes will be examined; these are expected to physically change shape to suit different parts of the flight.
RHOLAB—Reliable, Highly Optimised, Lead Acid Battery
Dr DA Stone, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Sheffield Aims
—  To extend significantly the life of a lead acid battery pack and improve its energy conversion efficiency.

—  To reduce the scatter of nominally identical cells, establish optimum cell charge equalisation and conditioning strategies based on an accurate, dynamic state-of-charge (SoC) model.

—  To realise a battery that incorporates thermal management, fault tolerance and safety features.

The research findings will benefit in society in general, since the availability of low cost, long cycle life battery technology will accelerate the adoption of low emission hybrid vehicles, and hereby reduce pollution and energy consumption.
Zero Emission Small vehicle with integrated high Temperature battery and FUel CelL (ZESTFUL)
Dr N Schofield, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Manchester Aims
—  Research, develop, build and test/evaluate a "zero" emission black-cab taxi powered by hydrogen fuel using a small Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, sized for cruise power demands, integrated with a high power battery.

The heart of this project, and the most important innovative element, is the electrical integration of a small hydrogen fuelled PEM fuel cell with a maximum power output of 8kWe together with a high temperature "Zebra" battery of 40kWe, providing a complete power source for the traction and passenger heating/cooling of a small/medium sized vehicle, in this project the application is aimed at the taxi market.

February 2006

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