Researchers to help remove barriers to low carbon transport

2 mins read

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s new Energy Institute are set to play a key role in two new initiatives that are removing the barriers to low-carbon transport.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the new initiatives will help to tackle climate change by removing barriers to low carbon transport in the UK, ranging from electric airplanes and decarbonised freight transport to hydrogen-fuelled cars.

The initiatives, which are part of the Decarbonising Transport Network+, will see researchers from the University’s Energy Institute focus on developing new, low-carbon liquid fuels as well as electric and hybrid aircraft technologies that are crucial to the future of the aviation industry.

Aviation and aerospace is a vital sector in the UK, contributing more than £22bn a year to the economy, but it is responsible for 12 per cent of CO2 emissions from transport sources, globally.

Medium to long haul flights account for 97 per cent of the UK’s aviation emissions and require a low carbon liquid fuel to decarbonise. Working as part of the network on a project named NewJet Network+, University of Sheffield researchers will explore the barriers that face the adoption of low carbon, synthetic fuel and the benefits that its adoption enables for commercial aviation beyond a reduction in CO2.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Head of the University of Sheffield Energy Institute and project Co-Investigator of NewJet Network+ said: “Decarbonisation of the aviation industry is a top priority for the world. Engineers at the University of Sheffield are working collaboratively with industry and other academic institutes to find solutions to the barriers that face the adoption of low carbon, synthetic fuel to enable commercial aviation to achieve the industry's climate goals from sustainable alternative aviation fuels.”

Aside from aviation, researchers from the University’s Energy Institute are also part of a second project named DecarboN8, which is working closely with industry and government to design solutions that can help to decarbonise the transport industry. With a focus on surface transport, the project is looking to answer questions on how different places can be rapidly switched to low carbon transport systems and how this transformation can be managed. It will facilitate new collaborations and test solutions.

Dr Danielle Densley Tingley from the University’s Urban Flows Observatory and Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, said: “The network is a really exciting opportunity to bring together academia and industry to tackle the challenge of decarbonising transport. Key to our approach will be considering the whole life impact of different solutions – which will include emissions from the material and maintenance demands of different infrastructure solutions as well as the direct emissions from operation.”

The Urban Flows Observatory at the University of Sheffield, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), conducts research to understand how the physical metabolism of cities - such as energy and resources - can be effectively measured and understood. To do this, the research team has deployed fixed and mobile sensors around the city of Sheffield to discover insights into air quality, local weather conditions and energy use.

The University of Sheffield’s newly launched Energy Institute is home to more than 300 of the best minds in energy research from around the world. Researchers in the Energy Institute work with industry partners to find solutions to the biggest challenges facing the energy industry. Its research is interdisciplinary with innovation and collaboration at its heart. This enables researchers in the institute to provide sustainable solutions and advice for governments and the energy industry.

The two new initiatives are funded by the EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).