Sustainable Heavy Duty Truck, Marine and Rail Transport

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham


Battery electrified power is predicted to become the dominant mode of propulsion in future passenger cars. For long haul heavy duty transport challenges remain around practical range, payload and total cost. Currently there is no single economically viable decarbonised solution for heavy duty ground vehicles. Ammonia could form part of the ideal future mix, as a hydrogen energy vector or potentially through direct end use. The proposed work seeks to determine the energy and air quality impacts and potential future applications of a novel ammonia-fuelled heavy duty IC engine operating with high efficiency (c.50% brake) and zero emissions through a new fast burning combustion system. The project will evaluate potential reductions in energy demand in the 'green' ammonia production process, making use of the new green ammonia pilot plant at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. In order to assess relative advantages and challenges, the project will undertake evidence based life cycle analysis across a spectrum of competing decarbonised powertrain technologies for long range heavy duty transport (ground, freight rail and marine).

Planned Impact

In alignment with the UK government Clean Growth Strategy, Clean Air Strategy and Maritime 2050 this project will examine a novel solution for full decarbonisation while in parallel examining competing technologies in a comprehensive life cycle analysis approach. As the markets evolve incrementally alongside technology driven cost reductions, a step-change in knowledge, understanding and technology associated with decarbonised vehicles is required to position the UK at the forefront of design, development and manufacture of such vehicles. The work will help deliver the EPSRC's Healthy, Resilient, Productive and Connected Nation delivery plan. Through the decarbonisation of transport we will strive to create a Healthy Nation through innovative drivetrains with vastly reduced carbon and pollutant emissions (soot/particulates, NOx, CO and unburned hydrocarbons). Activities will fully align with the Clean Growth Strategy, specifically addressing target areas "innovation in low carbon transport technology". The work will directly support achieving the Industrial Strategy targets of 50% of vehicles being low emission by 2030. More broadly, the project will support the development and definition of future emissions policies for future heavy duty on and off highway applications. This includes incoming Clean Air Zones in UK cities, foreseen to rapidly evolve towards zero emissions. Through our shared research into sustainable alternatives we will reduce reliance on carbon and also rare earth materials in electric power ensuring the nation does not rely as heavily on others, which in turn will help drive the delivery of a more Resilient Nation. The embedded program for improving the personal skill set of UK based researchers will help make the UK more Resilient in terms of building a strong future in STEM.

The work will deliver improved understanding to the researchers and the wider academic community (CREDS and beyond), the industry partners and their supply chains and wider society including policy makers. The project will lead to further projects at higher TRL, with funding sought from Innovate UK and/or the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to maximise commercial impact to the benefit of the UK based partners.


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Description This work is considering the impact of ammonia on future ground transport. The scope has involved assessment of ammonia as both an energy store and in direct end use in IC engines. The work to date has shown that ammonia can be a viable retrofit fuel for existing diesel four stroke IC engines below engine speeds of around 2000rpm, with ammonia substitution ratios of up to 50% achieved (i.e. still reliant on diesel for cold start and co-fuelling). The work also investigated the possibility of integrating thermal stores into the green ammonia Haber Bosch production process in order to improve transient response during intermittent operation.
Exploitation Route The results to date are helping to define the scope of work being undertaken in the EPSRC MariNH3 programme grant
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Energy,Transport

Description The results to date are being used to help define safe working practices around ammonia testing, with a white paper to be published online later this year.
First Year Of Impact 2023
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description The Opportunities and Challenges of Scaling Ammonia as an Energy Vector for Expeditionary Environments
Amount £136,000 (GBP)
Funding ID N62909-21-1-2062 
Organisation ONRG Office of Naval Research Global 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 08/2021 
End 04/2023