TRL to lead Highways England and DfT study into zero-emission truck technologies


The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has won the Highways England (HE) and Department for Transport (DfT) bid to conduct a study into zero emission HGV (heavy goods vehicle) or truck technologies as part of the government’s wider ‘Road to Zero’ strategy.

TRL will be investigating a range of solutions to achieve zero emissions for the country’s trucks, with this study being an essential signpost for the UK, and governments worldwide, to evaluate the technologies available to implement an effective program leading to the elimination of emissions.

Due for completion in February 2019, the project will underpin one of the main freight transport goals within the government’s Road to Zero report, to significantly reduce carbon and air quality emissions from long-haul HGV movements by 2040.

TRL’s role will be to identify and appraise the potential zero emission HGV technologies that can potentially make a positive effect on climate change and air quality, all informed by a scientifically rigorous literature review and a range of stakeholder engagement exercises to obtain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the technology options available.

This will culminate in criteria for the assessment of the technologies that will be included in the strategic outline business case (SOBC). Alongside this, TRL will be undertaking a program to identify recommended research and development activities, including full-scale demonstrators for the technologies emerging from the SOBC. The final project report will identify the activities required by external stakeholders.

Reducing the level of emissions generated by the road haulage sector is a major target for the UK. A recorded 17.1 billion tonnes of cargo travels on the country’s motorways and A roads per annum, which contributes in major part to high levels of carbon oxides, nitrogen oxide and particulates. Although the strategic road network (SRN) represents just 2% of all roads in England, it carries 66% of all HGVs and takes a majority of the impact from the growing demand for road cargo. As a proportion of total emissions, a significant two/thirds are attributed to freight.

Privatized in 1996, TRL has been providing world-leading research, technology and software solutions for surface transport modes and related markets engaged in intelligent, new mobility innovations for 80 years, all of which has led to its selection as the key author of this essential research project. The study, which will use an array of methodologies including Delphi Panels, aims to establish which technologies should be taken forward into a full-scale trial.

“The study into zero emission HGV technologies will provide an essential first step toward a solution leading to a critical improvement in air quality, as well as a significant movement towards the government’s Road to Zero goals,” explained Gavin Bailey, technical and business development manager for TRL.

“Our review and appraisal of existing technologies will include battery and hydrogen fuel cells and extend to include innovative solutions such as dynamic (in-motion) road charging techniques. Overall, the assessment will be framed with regards to the value for money to all relevant stakeholders, including infrastructure operators, freight operators, UK government, and UK Plc.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).