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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S036695/1
Title: Roadmaps to Zero Net Emissions in Urban Public Transport
Principal Investigator: Early, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Taylor, Prof. S Barry, Professor J Cunningham, Dr G
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2019 Ends: 31 March 2024 Value (£): 2,335,875
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Energy Storage
Mathematical Aspects of OR Structural Engineering
Transport Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Technological and societal changes are transforming the nature of public transport services. As concerns over air quality, congestion, and energy security have become elevated, there has been increasing emphasis on the development of sustainable, reliable low- and zero-emissions transport systems.

In response there has been significant investment in new bus technologies - across the EU, there are currently over 1,300 electric buses in operation or on order, with the UK holding 18% of these as the largest operator in Europe. There are commitments from 19 public operators and authorities across 25 European cities, which would see a growth in this fleet of up to 92% over the next 3 years, and by 2025 the size of the electric bus fleet across the EU could be increased by more than 4.5 times over the baseline today. At a global level, the Combined Annual Growth Rate for electric buses is currently predicted to be 33.5% between 2017 and 2025. This rapid growth in the sector represents a substantial business opportunity for the UK, but brings to the forefront a multitude of challenges including concerns over cost of acquisition/operation, vehicle range, energy efficiency, suitability of infrastructure (both civil and energy) to respond to the growing demand, how to account for blockages due to social acceptance, policy conflicts and effective management of future waste streams.

It is in this context that the current Prosperity Partnership brings together a multi-disciplinary team encompassing Queen's University Belfast and Wrightbus to deliver a comprehensive understanding of the challenges arising from introducing next generation zero net emissions (ZNE) buses into the public transport sector. In a climate of rapid innovation, a detailed understanding of both the short- and long-term technology risks and opportunities is key to successful exploitation. The proposed research aims to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of development in the next, and future, generations of energy efficient bus technologies. The research will focus on four key, highly integrated challenges:

1. There is no consensus on an optimal zero net emissions vehicle technology in the bus sector, with significant challenges in developing powertrain technologies which maximise the fuel/emissions/range/load factor efficiencies while maintaining pace with advancements in health monitoring and autonomy. With sector specific challenges, the bus industry is lagging behind the passenger car sector but will play a critical role in underpinning the next generation low carbon economy.

2. Next generation vehicles will need to be increasingly resilient to variations in energy consumption, not only at the vehicle level to mitigate range anxiety, where energy consumption will vary considerably as a function of route driven, but also across fleets, where enhanced understanding of the lifecycle energy requirements and waste streams will contribute to future enhanced energy efficiency and security.

3. As buses become increasingly more advanced, there are opportunities to not only improve the design of the vehicle, but also how it integrates with infrastructure, moving towards the next generation of Smart Cities. Drive-by monitoring and inductive charging of infrastructure sensors will enable greater understanding of how our transport systems impact on the state of health of our infrastructure, and to understand how added value from our bus networks can be secured through vehicle-based monitoring protocols.

4. There is uncertainty across the sector in how emerging policy can account for extra-technological dimensions; for example, societal impacts, legitimacy, cultural norms, and economic opportunities. There is a need to integrate these societal dimensions with technological innovation as part of the mapping and governance of transition pathways.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk