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MP visits University to look at hi-tech laboratory seeking to improve heavy duty vehicle efficiencies

Pictured L to R: Peter Dodd, ETI’s Director of Stakeholder Relations, MP Nicky Morgan, Professor Myra Nimmo, the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, Steve Faulkner, Caterpillar’s Strategy Manager, Research and Advanced Engineering and University project leader Professor Graham Hargrave.

Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan has visited a newly installed and commissioned research laboratory at Loughborough University to view progress on an engineering project which is seeking to improve the catalytic conversion efficiencies of exhaust systems in heavy duty vehicles (HDVs).

The £4.5m project marks the first collaboration between Loughborough University and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The ETI, which is based at Loughborough’s Holywell Park, is hosted by the universities of Loughborough, Birmingham and Nottingham, as part of the Midlands Energy Consortium.

The newly installed laboratory is designed to visualise and measure the fluid and gas flows present within modern HDV exhaust systems using a range of laser diagnostic techniques and high definition cameras. The ETI commissioned and funded project is led by Johnson Matthey, who in addition to collaborating with the university, is also working alongside ETI member Caterpillar. The work by the university is led by the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

The results from the research will play a key role in developing a more efficient exhaust emission clean up system (commonly known as a 'catalytic converter').  Often diesel engine fuel efficiency is reduced by having to comply with exhaust emission standards.  It is hoped that the new exhaust system developed by this project will be so efficient that it will effectively remove this constraint; allowing the HDV diesel engine to become more fuel efficient.  The project, which started in January 2013, aims to deliver fuel efficiency and CO2 benefits of between 3% to 4%.

Nicky Morgan MP for Loughborough, said: “It was fascinating to visit the new laboratory to see this hugely exciting project. In the coming years, fuel efficiency will become a pressing issue for organisations and companies who regularly use heavy duty vehicles. The collaborative work between Loughborough University and the ETI will not only help in the UK’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, but also at a practical level too by driving down the costs of running these vehicles.”

The ETI brings together engineering projects that accelerate the development of affordable, secure and sustainable technologies that help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits.

Graham Hargrave, Professor of Optical Diagnostics, who is leading the work being carried out at the university, said: “Loughborough University is proud to be involved in this energy efficiency research programme to develop high-efficiency engines as part of the ETI’s low carbon transport initiative. With support from the ETI, we have established state-of-the-art optical diagnostics facilities and advanced computational modelling for the design of new engine after-treatment systems. The aim of the Loughborough University research team is to develop word-leading NOx reduction technologies, which will be a key component in the development of the next generation of high-efficiency, low-emission heavy duty vehicles. This research will have a significant impact on HDV efficiency and the reduction in CO2 emissions.”

David Butler, HDV Project Manager, whose responsibilities include the SCR project, commented: “Our modelling work points to efficiency in the HDV sector as an important carbon reduction area that can make a meaningful difference in helping the UK to meet its carbon emission targets. Collaborating with industry and academia, this project will be focused on delivering an economically viable solution that is both practical and affordable.”

This project, which is expected to be completed in 2016, is part of the ETI’s £40m Heavy Duty Efficiency Programme. Officially launched last year by Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable, the programme is aiming to improve systems integration and technology development across the HDV sector (including trucks, buses, agricultural machines, construction equipment, quarry and mining machines, and marine transportation) – with an aim to increase the efficiency of land and marine vehicles by up to 30%.