The SPF Clean Air Annual Conference brought together researchers from across Wave 1 and 2 Clean Air programme investments and partners to showcase the wide range of high-quality research being undertaken in both Wave 1 and Wave 2 projects.  The Conference aimed to develop an understanding of the completeness of The Clean Air Programme and provide an opportunity to network across all the projects involved in the Clean Air Programme and with Clean Air stakeholders.

Click here for the SPF Annual Conference Programme.

Click here for the SPF Annual Conference EDI Assessment.

The Martin Williams Memorial Lecture “Air pollution health effects at low levels of exposure”, Prof Bert Brunekreef – Director, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University

“Campaigning for clean air and healthy lungs”, Sarah Woolnough – Chief Executive Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation

APEx: An Air Pollution Exposure model to integrate protection of vulnerable groups into the UK Clean Air Programme

The risk to health of poor air quality and its impacts being disproportionally suffered by vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly and those with underlying health problems. This risk is heightened by the impact of poor-quality buildings and other unavoidable socio-economic vulnerabilities. Despite this, current methods for assessing the impact of clean air policies are entirely based on outdoor air quality, without considering human behaviours or susceptibility. This study will place people at the centre of the problem by creating an exposure model that more accurately reflects the air that people breathe as they interact with their city, incorporating the indoor and outdoor environment, transport and behaviour patterns.

Bringing together experts from a range of disciplines, we are creating a tool that will inform the implementation of the UK Government’s Clean Air Strategy and instigate new solutions to protect the health of vulnerable groups. It will achieve this by merging three existing advanced urban models of air pollution, buildings and urban form and a human behaviour (agent-based) model.

Having created the tool, we are now evaluating it using an extensive database of personal exposure measurements gathered from several research campaigns carried out in recent years. Surveys will soon be carried out to ensure that human behaviour is correctly reflected in the model, including how citizens might react to the introduction of proposed clean air policies. Once complete, APEx will be used to quantify the impact of current and proposed new policies on the levels of air pollution citizens breathe.

During the Working in Partnership for Cleaner Air conference, we want your input to help formulate new policy scenarios incorporating human choice and behaviour to improve air quality and protect vulnerable groups.

See APeX for more information.

Cool Run: Hubl’s solution to multi-temperature last mile delivery

Food is the single largest commodity group of all goods lifted in the UK (18%).  Rigid vehicles, 3.5t – 25t, account for 1,279m tonne kilometres of goods moved in the UK per annum, many of these miles in urban areas. University of Lincoln estimate that 45% by value are chilled/frozen.

The Hubl Cool Run Pod (CR Pod) is an innovative new product to reduce harmful non-tail-pipe emissions from transport refrigeration units. It combines existing and emerging technologies to create the world’s first non-diesel, ‘last mile’, independently monitored, refrigerated delivery system. The CR Pod is being developed by Hubl, supported by the University of Lincoln, to link the new product with current research and analysis on the emissions savings which could be achieved through its commercialisation.

The fresh and frozen food market currently relies on the use of specialist refrigerated vehicles, cooled by compressor-driven, diesel-fuelled cooling units or, in the case of electric vehicles, from the principal drivetrain and/or additional batteries. The CR Pod provides an alternative concept – a lightweight, durable, cost-effective containment system, which removes the need for the current compressor-dependent diesel chiller units and heavy insulated vehicle bodies.

The CR Pod, with its associated handling systems, has huge potential to support the Clean Air Strategy and UK Industrial Strategy. Life Cycle Analysis of the CR Pod versus a standard roll-cage was dominated, in all the modelled assessments, by fuel usage associated with travelling the distance modelled, for an 18t delivery vehicle. Normalised emissions (kg/tkm) were reduced in the transport component by 27% – CO2e, 7% – PM2.5 and 23% – NOx. The Hubl pod offers the opportunity to significantly reduce the unladen vehicle weight.

Feasibility study forecasted a potential CO2 saving of 120m kgCO2 per annum. LCA estimates CO2 saving from just 18t vehicles of 90m kgCO2 per annum.

See Cool Run for more information.

100m Scale Atmospheric modelling

Currently the highest resolution atmosphere models run by the Met Office for weather and climate applications have gridlengths of order 1km (for example the UK forecast model, the UKV, runs with a 1.5km gridlength).

This project relates to the development of 100m scale models which will enable better representation of both surface features and key meteorological phenomena. This is likely to be particularly useful in the context of representing cities which are only crudely resolved in the current km scale models. For air quality applications these models will bring the ability to represent the variations of boundary layer structure on scales of a few km and also start to resolve finer scale turbulence structures.

The current project (which is part of the Met Office 100m scale modelling strategy) is to look at the spatial variation and temporal development of convective boundary layers over London in 100m scale models and make comparisons to observations. Of particular interest is the morning growth of the boundary layer which is important for air quality applications.

This discussion will be an opportunity to consider the current benefits and limitations of such models and future developments in terms of air quality applications.

See 100m Scale Atmospheric modelling for more information.

NPL: National Physical Laboratory – Metrology projects in Wave 1 and 2

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the Public Sector Research Establishment partners involved in both waves of the Clean Air Programme. As the UK’s National Metrology Institute NPL is providing metrology support across both the UKRI and Met Office research activities through collaboration with project partners. Metrology provides a measurement and data infrastructure which is:

  • stable over time enabling trends and changes to be quantified,
  • comparable between locations, ensuring consistency of results both within a network and from
  • coherent, allowing measurements of different properties using different methods to be combined and used across disciplines.  

Particular areas of collaboration within Clean Air include:

  • Performance assessment of key sensor technologies using NPL laboratory and field test facilities;
  • Development of (sensor and network) calibration methodologies within the programme and beyond (e.g. Breath London and UK Urban NO2 networks)
  • Evaluation of (sensor and network) uncertainties.
  • Quality assurance and uncertainty requirements across disciplinary boundaries
  • NPL will also help feed key project outputs into European standardisation activities through CEN TC264 (Air Quality) WG42 on Air Quality Sensors.

See NPL for more information.

QUANT: Quantification of Utility of Atmospheric Network Technologies

Low-cost air pollution sensors have a potentially vital role to play in tackling air pollution in the UK, and globally. The high time resolution and ability to create dense networks of these devices offers a paradigm shift in the way we measure key pollutants, evaluate health impacts of air pollution exposure and assess potential solutions. The QUANT project is assessing and enabling the use of low-cost sensors for UK clean air challenges. This is being achieved through the delivery of a real-world open and traceable assessment of commercial low-cost sensor devices, in a range of UK urban environments, and the development of novel data methods that enhance the information provided by these devices. QUANT is generating new data, using existing and developmental sensor technologies, and novel data methods in order to provide air pollution source information, and is also using data from existing UK sensor networks (e.g., BreatheLondon) to demonstrate the retrieval of information currently not accessible to UK air pollution networks.

The QUANT break-out session will begin with a short overview of the QUANT project, followed by a wider participant-led discussion around the preliminary findings and the use of low-cost air pollution sensors more widely.

See QUANT for more information.

DIMEX-UK:  Data integration model for exposure modelling

Traditionally, exposures to air pollution have been represented by measurements from monitoring networks and/or the outputs of models with estimates of concentrations being allocated to places of residence. However, an individual’s personal exposure to air pollution will depend on where people spend their time and the levels of air pollution they experience in different micro-environments, with locations and activities being determined by age, gender, occupation and other factors.

DIMEX is integrated framework of measured and modelled estimates of ambient concentrations with human behaviour to estimate personal exposures to air pollution for use in health impact analyses, epidemiological studies and policy development. DIMEX is based on agent-based model in which ‘virtual’ individuals move around their environment and exposure profiles are build up based on their activities across space and time and their interaction with different levels of air pollution. This is set within a Bayesian hierarchical modelling framework that allows uncertainty in the inputs and the modelling to be propagated and incorporated within measures of uncertainty associated with the resulting estimates of personal exposures for defined populations (e.g. different demographic groups in specified locations).

A prototype version of DIMEX has been applied to a case study in Devon, integrating data on an underlying synthetic population with time-activity and health data to produce estimates of personal exposures for different sub-population (and vulnerable) groups. The model is being implemented for a case study in Manchester where a rich set of measurements from monitors deployed as part of the project and detailed mobility data by socio-economic status will be used to calibrate and validate the model.

See DIMEX-UK for more information.

KM Scale AQ Model: National high-resolution air-quality modelling and forecasting for exposure

Air pollution varies from one location to another. The amount and type of pollution can be different in one city from another, and one street to the next. Air quality models are important tools for forecasting pollution levels. They are also valuable for informing policy to reduce pollution and exposure. Air quality models often focus on large areas (e.g. Europe) with a spatial resolution of tens of kilometres. Other models have a much finer resolution but can only represent small areas, such as a city. A new air quality model is being developed at the Met Office. The new model will use a spatial resolution of approximately 1 km and cover the whole of the UK. Upgrading the spatial resolution of the model will provide more localised pollution forecasts. This development will build towards personalised air quality messaging for individuals. A finer model spatial resolution could improve estimates of exposure and health impacts. The model as a research tool could improve our understanding of air pollution. In turn this could inform future policy to improve air quality in the UK. A national air quality model at 1 km resolution will be at the cutting edge for forecasting and research. 

See KM Scale AQ Model for more information

MAQS: Multi-Model Air Quality System for Health Research

This ambitious project is developing a world-leading coupled air quality modelling system spanning national to urban street scales and accounting for physical and chemical processes at all relevant temporal and spatial scales: from thousands of kilometres to metres; and from seconds  to days or weeks. The system is flexible, linking the most advanced regional chemical transport models available, including CMAQ, CAMx, EMEP, AQUM/UKCA and WRF-Chem, to a new street-scale dispersion model, ADMS-Local, and to CERC’s widely used ADMS-Urban model. ADMS-Local is computationally efficient, calculates gradients in pollutant concentrations at street-scale resolution including allowance for chemical reactions relevant at local scale, and accounts for the impacts of complex urban morphology, including street canyons, on flow and dispersion. The system’s verification module enables validation of predictions against measurements even where there are large gradients in concentration (as often found in urban environments), which is not possible with grid based regional models. The system predictions will enable exposure and health impact modelling at national, city and neighbourhood scales. Researchers will be able to assess a wide range of national and local policy measures, such as Clean Air Zones and reduced ammonia emissions from farming.

The coupled system and ADMS-Local will be available to the UK research community for air quality and health via the SPF Clean Air Framework platform and will have an open structure facilitating system development and modification. A beta version will be released in June 2021 and the final system will be launched in early 2022.

The project team is led by CERC and brings together our experts in software development and application of local dispersion models (ADMS), and regional modelling experts from the universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Hertfordshire and Lancaster. The project team are working closely with the Met Office and are liaising closely with stakeholders throughout the project.

See MAQS for more information.

UK Air Quality Reanalysis

At the Met Office, we use our air quality forecast model to produce the national air quality forecast for the UK. This model is being adapted to allow us to perform a reanalysis of air quality in the UK over the past 15-20 years.

For our reanalysis, we will be running simulations of the past. We will then use observations from the past to constrain the model data. This produces an improved recreation of past reality. We will be keeping this dataset up to date as a rolling 20 year archive.

Measurements of pollution are usually limited in both time and space. This can limit detailed health impacts studies. The reanalysis project will provide a consistent long term dataset for the whole of the UK. We hope that this will be beneficial for health impact assessments and epidemiological studies.

We hope that our air quality reanalysis dataset will also be useful for:

  • Investigating long term trends in pollutants concentrations. This could be at scales ranging from individuals, to local authorities, to national level.
  • Providing boundary condition data for running higher resolution local air quality models.
  • Making comparisons between observational data. This could be from a range of platforms, including ground measurement sites and aircraft.

See UK Air Quality Reanalysis for more information.

Breathing City: Future Urban Ventilation Network

The Future Urban Ventilation Network is developing a technical framework to enable a new integrated health evidenced approach to urban building design and technology innovation – The Breathing City. We use a holistic approach considering coupled indoor-outdoor flows in the context of current and future air quality challenges together with their impacts on thermal comfort, noise and energy use. We bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers to understand technical and practical challenges and develop a programme of research and impact activities that are needed to make it a reality. We will consider ventilation challenges in the context of post-pandemic recovery and the recognition of the importance of indoor air for infection transmission, alongside air pollution and drivers such as climate change.

The network works across three themes. Theme 1 focuses on coupled indoor-outdoor environments to consider mechanisms for ingress and egress of pollutants in buildings and the techniques for quantifying this exchange. Theme 2 focuses on health-centred ventilation design to explore innovations required to deliver good ventilation for occupant health. Theme 3, ‘Breathing City into practice’ will identify and engage with potential users at different scales to inform cohesive strategies for informed policy. Each theme has a working group to scope research direction, identify gaps in knowledge and support pilot studies.

By working with a systems map we are exploring the complex interaction of factors that influence indoor air exposures, the evidence that supports each of the factors and where there are needs for technology, behavioural and policy changes to improve urban ventilation. We are identifying key stakeholders and defining the network’s research scope. We will share this systems map during our breakout session and encourage input from participants.

See Breathing City for more information.

BioAirNet: Indoor/outdoor Bioaerosols Interface and Relationships Network

The context of BioAirNet is to address the interdisciplinary challenge of characterising the emission dynamics, exposure profiles and health impacts to particulate matter of biological origins (BioPM) or bioaerosols across different indoor and outdoor environments. There are significant knowledge gaps on how sources and characteristics of different indoor and outdoor environments (design, construction and use) affect the physico-chemical and biological characteristics of BioPM emissions, exposure patterns and the resultant health impacts, particularly for vulnerable people.  Similarly, knowledge on dose-response relationships and the impact of the interaction of BioPM and other air pollutants on mechanisms of ill health effects (allergenicity, toxicity and infectivity) is lacking. Besides constraints in methods for sampling and analysis of BioPM, disconnection between scientific disciplines and policy landscape is a key barrier to realise a comprehensive “Bio-exposome” assessment and characterisation. BioAirNet is taking a transdisciplinary approach to engage with a range of academia, industry, policy and public actors to establish cross-collaboration activities to identify and support the future directions for research and innovation tackling the existing and future societal challenges related to BioPM characterisation, exposure and management.  It is operating via four interdisciplinary themes:

  • BioPM sources and dynamics at the indoor/outdoor environments,
  • BioPM sampling and characterisation,
  • Human health, behaviour and wellbeing, and
  • Policy and public engagement.

A range of networking activities and dissemination mechanisms, focusing on promoting discovery science through specialist workshops and translational research and training and empowerment of early career researchers will be employed. Four thematic workshops each focused on a BioAirNet theme have been conducted. Drawing on these, gap analysis identifying the priority research areas and planning of future events is underway to ensure cross-fertilisation and the transfer of knowledge between disciplines, translating these into tangible outputs for stakeholders, policy-makers and the wider community.

See BioAirNet for more information.

ANTICIPATE: Actively anticipating the unintended consequences on air quality of future public policies

UK public policies have significant environmental, economic, social and political consequences. An integrated approach to policy appraisal could lead to more robust and resilient policy making. It is increasingly important that we take a systems-based approach to identifying the air pollution costs, or benefits, of policy from across government.

The UK policy landscape is a highly interconnected and interdependent system with complex interactions and feedbacks. We often view this as a set of discrete subsystems, rarely considering the landscape in its entirety and thereby limiting effective anticipation of the wider impacts and unintended consequences of policy decisions.

The ANTICIPATE project brings together policy analysts and policy makers from UK central government, devolved administrations and local and regional authorities, stakeholders from business, and civil society organisations to work with academics and researchers to explore forthcoming policy initiatives for their consequences, intended or unintended, positive or negative, on air quality.

The project has organised stakeholder workshops to create Participatory System Maps of specific policy cycles. These maps allow participants to work together to understand better the various social and technical factors that influence air quality, and how they interact.

While before the pandemic, these workshops were held face-to-face, we have now switched to using software that we have developed that allows people to work remotely, but collaboratively and in real time, to build system maps and are refining methods for the analysis of such maps.

In the breakout sessions at the conference, rather than give a presentation, we shall be running a system mapping workshop, to give participants a flavour of what is involved and the insights that such workshops might provide.

The ANTICIPATE Project includes partners from the University of Surrey, University College London, University of York and Birmingham University. The three-year project concludes in August 2022.

See ANTICIPATE for more information.

TAPAS: Tackling Air Pollution at School

TAPAS is the network for Tackling Air Pollution at School. It is designed to bring stakeholders together from across society to develop the research base to design and operate healthy schools both now and in the future.

Children are one of the groups most at risk from air pollution and working with schools gives us the opportunity to engage children and the wider school community on air pollution at the same time as hopefully improving the air quality in and around schools.

Our Co-I team is made up of academics and practitioners from across a range of disciplines, from fluid dynamics to citizen science, and from decision support approaches to public campaigning. The team is lead by Professor Paul Linden at the University of Cambridge, who has many years’ experience leading multidisciplinary teams, and on working on air pollution problems.

TAPAS works across four content areas – understanding the problem, understanding the solutions, prioritising solutions and dissemination and outreach.

We are committed to working side by side with school communities – co-designing interventions, involving schools in events and research, and talking to teachers, parents, and children about improving air quality. Our network also includes partners from across society, including local authorities, government departments, charities, international organisations and industrial partners from small-scale entrepreneurs to large engineering consulting firms and business associations.

So far we have embarked on a programme of monitoring and engagement with schools in several boroughs in and around London, in conjunction with the project CO-TRACE (Covid-19 Transmission Case-studies Education establishments). We have run two series of lunchtime seminars, two full network meetings and are planning a workshop event to allocate our small research grant funding.

TAPAS is an open network, and we encourage you to get in touch if you would like to work with us to improve air quality in schools.

See TAPAS for more information.

DREaM: Component-Specific Air pollutant Drivers of Disease Risk in Early to Midlife: a pathway approach

Air pollution remains the major environmental cause of premature death globally, with long-term exposures to elevated concentrations of airborne particles and gases associated with both increased cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions and deaths. These adverse effects of living for long periods in areas of elevated pollutant concentrations are much greater than those associated with short-term exposures, which has led to the hypothesis that air pollution not only aggravates symptoms in individuals with pre-existing disease, but also contributes to their development.

Consistent with this view, air pollution exposures have been associated with early indicators of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, inflammation, and poor lung function. This has significant policy implications as it implies that air pollution reductions now, have the potential to provide benefits far into the future, reducing the incidence and progression of the diseases of age and their associated health costs.

There are however considerable gaps in our knowledge of how air pollution exposures in childhood to mid-life can promote these adverse responses and what knowledge there is tends to be derived from short-term exposure studies. How this relates to the effects of long-term cumulative exposures is unclear as there is an absence of long-term biomarkers of exposure and response. Recently it has become apparent that under environmental/chemical stress DNA can undergo structural changes that can both reflect exposure and modify the expression of genes. While many of these changes are dynamic others appear stable over time. These epigenetic modifications to genes have the potential to regulate inflammation, repair, detoxification and antioxidant responses in individuals and the identification of these ‘marks’ has the potential to provide insights into the causal pathways contributing the aetiology and early progression of disease.

In the DREaM project we are examining epigenetic marks in children and adults in relation to both their short and long-term exposures to both gaseous and source fractionated particulate matter to identify the toxic components with the complex air pollution mixture and increase our understanding of their modes of action on a range of cardiopulmonary endpoints.

See DREaM for more information.

OSCA: Integrated Research Observation System for Clean Air

The OSCA project is providing new capability to predict future changes in the sources, emissions and atmospheric processes responsible for air pollution, providing robust evidence for air quality policies as well as data and infrastructure for the wider Clean Air Programme.

OSCA is advancing our knowledge of emissions through long term measurements of fluxes from the BT Tower and through making measurements of brake and tyre wear emissions from vehicle tests including novel collection methods. Mobile observations are being used to map the test data to the roadside environment to develop source apportionment tools. Long term measurements are being carried out at 3 new air quality supersites in London, Birmingham and Manchester. These offer greatly enhanced measurement capability compared to the Defra and LA networks and are being used to examine source apportionment of PM from non-tail pipe sources, examine trends in air pollution and quantify urban ammonia. Sampling throughout the covid-19 lockdown period has already provided a wealth of important information.

OSCA is hosting two major community intensive observation periods in June/July 2021 in Manchester and January/February 2022 in Birmingham. The call for the latter has not yet been announced if you wish to get involved. OSCA is collaborating extensively with other CleanAir activities, is providing a wealth of data to the UK air pollution community and is working extensively with a wide range of government bodies and other stakeholders.

The session will begin with a short presentation highlighting the main outcomes and activities of OSCA but will focus on a discussion forum for participants to engage with OSCA researchers in all of the above areas to develop partnerships, explore outcomes in more detail, see how to gain access to data and learn about how we are transfer outcomes to the wider CleanAir programme and beyond.

See OSCA for more information.

TRANSITION: Clean Air Network

The TRANSITION Clean Air Network is led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with nine universities and over 20 cross-sector partners. The Network’s focus is identifying, prioritising and tackling indoor and outdoor air quality challenges linked to the UK low emission mobility revolution by bringing together academics, researchers, policymakers, business, civil society and UK citizens. The Network’s partners are engaged in a broad and diverse range of activities including: (i) Network Summits; (ii) Challenges and Solutions Workshops; (iii) Clean Air Discovery and Innovation Projects; (iv) Knowledge Mobilisation and Exchange Placements; and (v) Public Outreach Events. These activities align with the Network’s core themes:

  • Characterising emerging air quality challenges and risks
  • Understanding transport choices and behaviours
  • Supporting industry led research and innovation
  • Co-creating a framework for policy solutions

Key emerging air quality challenges were explored at the TRANSITION Clean Air Network launch workshop, with an associated report published in December 2020. To address these challenges the Network has recently awarded £48,000 to five innovative research projects via its Discovery and Innovation Fund. The TRANSITION Co-Is have helped shape the scientific basis of these projects, spanning commercial, academic and local authority partners. Their outputs will help inform the UK’s low-emission mobility revolution to deliver clean air solutions and help meet the government’s 2050 ‘net zero’ targets by:

  1. Characterising Changing Travel Patterns in the COVID-19 Era (University of the West of England)
  2. Measuring Exposure in Different Transport Modes (Emissions Analytics Ltd)
  3. Progressing Real-Time Source Identification (DustScan Ltd)
  4. Understanding the Impact and Effects of Non-Exhaust Emissions on Human Health and the Environment (First Bus)
  5. Minimising Public Exposure at the Roadside (Oxford Brookes University)

Approaching the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), these projects will provide policymakers with insights and evidence to develop a cleaner and healthier environment.

See TRANSITION for more information.

Auto-Align: – Reducing Air Pollution Through Continuous Measurement of Vehicle Wheel Alignment

This project brings together Aston and Chester Universities, under the lead of RL Capital, to create AutoAlign, a state-of-the-art onboard vehicle wheel alignment measurement system.

Wheel misalignment is a significant cause of excessive tyre and road wear, a substantial contributor to airborne particulate pollution. Road transport is responsible for up to 50% of all PM emissions in OECD countries, and particles from brake, tyre and road surface wear total over half of these emissions. The AutoAlign system dramatically reduces these dangerous non-exhaust emissions from all types of vehicle tyre, by ensuring that misalignment is detected and can be quickly rectified, resulting in an immediate and long-term reduction in the harmful impact of PM emissions on human health and the environment.

The Auto-Align system consists of self-calibrating sensors that are easily attached to vehicle wheels, continuously measuring wheel alignment. Data is transmitted to the cloud and analysed using AI techniques that determine exact alignment status. Misalignment is detected as it happens and the driver and/or fleet operator immediately notified so corrective action can be taken before it negatively affects wear. The system is low cost and easy to install – either as a retrofit or at factory stage.

This project is high impact, for launch in Q4 2021, which, on adoption, could cut the overall annual release of tyre-related particulates by up to 5%, and remove, in the EU alone, up to 25,000 tons of microplastics from the environment. The Auto-Align system has secondary benefits; reducing exhaust emissions from lower fuel consumption and cutting annual worldwide manufacture of up to 30 million car and 1 million truck tyres, equivalent to 750m tons of CO2. The project’s development uses expertise gained by RL Capital in the CAV1 InnovateUK funded, and successfully commercialised, Tyrewatch remote tyre pressure monitoring and fault detection system.

See Auto-Align for more information.

Clean Air Framework

There is a wide range of air quality and health related work taking place in the UK. The Clean Air Framework project aims to help air quality and health researchers work more closely together. In general, these groups have struggled to interact, leading to a lot of work being done in isolation.

The Clean Air Framework is an online environment containing a range of tools, data and resources that will aid a range of work in the areas of air quality and health. The Framework seeks to encourage collaboration by providing a central online hub. This will act as a one-stop-shop for data, tools, and information. It will bring together and link established resources, enabling effective discovery and reuse. It will enable analysis across a range of datasets and will also permit the uploading of new datasets to be shared with the community. We will also be investigating how best to accommodate and link up tools that are currently being developed by other Clean Air projects.

The Clean Air Framework is being initially developed by the Met Office but it is for the wider air quality and health communities. User engagement is at the heart of the Framework to ensure that we will be providing relevant and valuable resources and information for the diverse group of users. Once the Framework has been setup, we hope that it will be taken on by the wider community and that the resources currently available will continue to be fine-tuned and grow.

See Clean Air Framework for more information.

DUKEMS: Developing a UK Community Emission Modelling System

The DUKEMS project aims at delivering the UK Emission Modelling System (EMS), a community-driven platform and infrastructure to store, process, modify and generate emission datasets as key input into atmospheric chemistry transport modelling. Core objectives are the delivery of a framework and tools designed to be operational long term in supporting the atmospheric modelling community by providing a flexible, user-friendly system to deliver emission input data for modelling in a transparent, traceable and reproducible manner.

We have, based on robust user and stakeholder engagement, developed the scope and building blocks for the UK-EMS. The prototype for the system is currently being implemented on the JASMIN, the UK’s data analysis facility for environmental science. As a next step, intensive user testing will be conducted over the second half of 2021 to collect as much feedback and user input as possible for the final development stage in the first half of 2022.

Today, we will introduce a central element of the EMS, the ‘data labs’ we build to provide users with the opportunity to develop and run their own emission calculation and processing tools on top of the core tools we are putting in. These data labs will allow for the EMS to be expanded and adapted to future needs and enable this to become a central platform for research and data provision to the UK, and potentially the wider international community.

In the breakout session, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the concept behind the data labs, and your input will help us shape the system and identify future, longer-term priorities for development of the EMS.

See DUKEMS for more information.

MOASA: Delivery of long-term airborne measurements for community use (Met office Atmospheric Survey Aircraft)

The Met Office Atmospheric Survey Aircraft (MOASA) is a twin-engine Cessna 421 aircraft full to capacity with science instrumentation for the measurement of aerosol (PM2.5, PM10) and gaseous pollutants, specifically nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide. Since summer 2019 MOASA has regularly overflown Automatic Urban Rural Network (AURN) sites; the sites offer a good understanding of pollution at ground level and their data used to bias correct surface level model forecasts, but an evolving priority is the assessment of model performance in the boundary layer and lower troposphere, where most emission sources are located, and where air quality directly impacts the human health and the ecosystem. We currently lack sufficient observational data to verify that structure in the model is well represented; this is where the measurements from MOASA will come into their own, helping to create a long-term dataset for community use.

In September 2020 SPF Clean Air funded 50 hours of flying on MOASA to continue to deliver the long-term dataset of airborne measurements. Experience from early sorties showed very little commercial aviation activity in southern UK during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, including London where both Heathrow and London City airport’s showing limited aircraft movements. Working with MOASA’s operators and NATS, a Non Standard Flight Notification sortie was developed allowing MOASA to overfly central London at low level (between 1000’ and 2000’) on a regular basis. MOASA is also equipped with an aerosol backscatter LIDAR; with it pointing up on London sorties the LIDAR can detect boundary layer height. The data will help researchers validate boundary layer lofting and overturing models over large cities.

From May 2021 MOASA is funded for an additional 100 flying hours with work focusing around two intensive observation periods, overflying NERC supersites in Manchester, Birmingham and hopefully London, air traffic permitting.

See MOASA for more information.

CleanAir4V: Air Pollution Solutions for Vulnerable Groups

CleanAir4V brings together researchers, stakeholders and industry practitioner to identify, develop, and evaluate indoor air pollution solutions for two vulnerable groups: children and people with pre-existing conditions (e.g. COPD). These groups are most strongly affected by poor indoor air quality but have limited autonomy to escape their indoor environments. We have identified five key indoor spaces for these groups: nurseries, schools, hospitals, public transport hotspots and individual homes. The network is particularly focused on the pollutants PM1, ultrafine PM and VOCs.

The CleanAir4V work packages focus on understanding air quality challenges at key indoor-outdoor-interfaces, behaviour and technology interventions, establishing air quality/health benefits & economic costs of interventions, and development of policy recommendation. Bringing together these work packages is a cross-work package scoping group, which will also lead a pilot study to obtain pump-priming data, and a cross-network scoping group which links CleanAir4V to the other Clean Air networks.

Apart from drafting landscape/position papers covering each work package/scoping group to help inform the public and stakeholders, CleanAir4V aims to develop follow-on bids and inform implementation of Clean Air Strategy through policy advice, planning and business innovation.

The breakout session focusses on the behaviour intervention aspect of CleanAir4V. Successful interventions for reducing air pollution exposure require a deep understanding of how people’s judgments and choices may have detrimental effects for their health. The objective of the breakout room is to introduce how new insights from behavioural and data science could be used to develop and test interventions. We will discuss how the growing body of research in psychology, computer science, and economics could be harnessed to offer an alternative strategy to behavioural change. Our objective is to generate new ideas for interventions that go beyond the traditional approaches that stress the role of education, awareness, as well as bans and restrictions.

See CleanAir4V for more information.

HEICCAM: The health and equity impacts of climate change mitigation measures on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure

Under the policies that are aimed to tackle climate change and reach net-zero emissions, it remains unclear how the exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution will be impacted. The key focus of the HEICCAM clean air research network is to investigate the impact of proposed home-energy efficiency measures under the UK’s climate change action plan on the indoor air quality, air pollution policies on outdoor air quality and their combined effects on indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure.

The network will undertake targeted evidence synthesis and research on the likely trade-offs in exposures to indoor and outdoor air pollutants (particles and gases including volatile organic compounds) from the planned population-wide improvements in home energy efficiency measures. We will identify the current challenges and co-benefits in estimating health risks associated with the indoor and outdoor air quality exposure. Vulnerable groups such as children, elderlies or individuals with pre-existing illness, who spend a lot of their indoors can be disproportionally impacted by poor indoor as well as outdoor air quality.

The network will investigate this disproportionality and provide recommendations on how it can be reduced. The role of occupant behaviour change in relation to the regulation of building design and refurbishment would be outlined and studied. We will also undertake research on the role of comprehensive air quality monitoring and modelling for the improved prediction of present and future health risks. The impact of future air pollutant emission scenarios on air quality exposure and health risks will also be studied. Based on the research findings, the network aims to provide science and policy recommendations on what alignments are needed in climate change, air quality and housing policies to optimise health co-benefits and to reduce health inequalities arising from air pollution in the connected indoor and outdoor environments.

See HEICCAM for more information.

CAGE: Clean Air Gas Engine 

The CAGE project (Clean Air Gas Engine) has developed a new solution to displace diesel engine power on construction sites with gas engines hybrids using solar PV and battery storage. Its benefits have been demonstrated in Central London at Euston Station with the HS2 rail project, our partner for extended trials.

The clean combustion benefits of gas fuels are well documented with advantages in output of NOx, and harmful particulates when compared with diesel. Diesel engines however have perceived advantages in ease of refuelling with low cost fuel, and fuel efficiency when compared to other engine types, making them very attractive to the construction sector. The CAGE project fully addresses these issues to offer a cost competitive, ultra-low emission gas engine product with easy refuelling and competitive fuel costs. CAGE engines range from 6-25kW.

The project applies Oaktec’s IP in low emission gas engine combustion and control to Jaguar Land Rover’s latest Ingenium automotive engine platform, and optimises its performance to suit applications used in the construction industry. The system is integrated into a site welfare unit using solar PV and battery storage.

In a welfare unit the hybrid system reduces the need for engine power by between 70% in winter and 100% in summer when there is less power demand.

  • Calor’s new bioLPG product further reduces engine CO2 emissions by up to 80%.
  • Imperial College is measuring the emission reduction potential of the CAGE product on NRMM fleet emissions using a range of scenarios based on technology penetration into different engine sizes and machinery types based on a unique real-world emissions inventory already developed on NRMM fleet.
  • Helical Technology is supporting the project by developing new lab facilities to enable clean gas engines to be certified to the new EU Stage V standard.
  • CAGE generators are manufactured by UK OEM Sutton Power Engineering,
  • Solar hybrid site welfare units are manufactured by UK market leader Advante.

See CAGE for more information.

Back to all