Wave 1

This section showcases projects that are being supported through the SPF Clean Air Programme. To find out more about an individual project, click on a heading below.

CAGE: Clean Air Gas Engine

The CAGE project (Clean Air Gas Engine) brings together the gas engine development expertise of project lead OakTec with leading industrial partners Jaguar LandRover (JLR) and Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions. With further support from Calor/SHV Energy, who will provide innovative bioLPG fuelling solutions, industrial engine supplier EP Barrus, and Kings College London (KCL) to assess and monitor air quality benefits, the project builds on five years dedicated research into efficient, low emission industrial gas engines by OakTec. The project applies OakTec's IP in low emission gas engine combustion and control to JLR's state of the art Ingenium automotive engine platform, and optimises its performance to suit a range of industrial applications used in the construction industry.

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Auto-Align: Reduction of tyre and road wear through wheel alignment monitoring

Auto-Align is a development project that creates a monitoring system to enable commercial vehicle operators to reduce particulate emissions resulting from tyre and road wear. These particulate emissions, along with other non exhaust emissions from brakes, have an equal contribution to total vehicle atmospheric emissions as exhaust fumes, but attract substantially lower levels of attention and investment.

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

The Cool Run system optimises the handling of food through a novel insulated pod system, which controls the temperature of individual unit loads.  The system reduces vehicle cold air losses through door openings and retains the refrigerated air during multiple drops on the last mile delivery run.  The pod system maintains the product at optimal temperatures so preventing thermal gain and the product going above the legal temperature requirements.  The reduction in thermal gain due to the breaks in the cold chain is avoided between storage locations, transport modes, delivery vehicle and final destination, so reducing the energy required to re-cool the products.  Retention of product integrity and security, along with handling efficiencies will also contribute to the commercial viability of the concept.

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Food Transport Refrigeration with Engine Exhaust and Metal Hydride Reactors

Led by: Professor Yunting Ge, London South Bank University

The standard cooling cycle for refrigerated transport is the Vapour Compression System (VCS). Working fluids are traditionally hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) with relatively high Global Warming Potential (GWP); it is electrically powered by the vehicle’s alternator or by a diesel genset on the trailer. Both, especially the latter, significantly increase fuel consumption, and CO, NOx, PM and noise emissions. Higher fuel costs, anticipated reductions in tax rebates on “red” diesel used in gensets and stricter emissions regulations, particularly in urban areas, drive the need for more efficient, lower emissions systems.

SBRI recently funded a feasibility study - ExHAUst-heat driven cooLIng for refrigERated tranSport (HAULIERS) of a new refrigeration technology, driven largely by the heat in the vehicle engine’s exhaust gases. It combines desorption and absorption of hydrogen (H2) in two pairs of metal hydride reactors, each pair with a hot and a cold reactor. Exhaust gas (~300°C) heats the first hot reactor and desorbs H2 at high pressure and temperature (~250°C). The H2 flows to the first cold reactor, which absorbs it at lower pressure and temperature (~35°C), releasing heat to ambient (~25°C). Meanwhile, cold air from the refrigerated space (~-12°C) passes through the cold reactor of the second pair and desorbs H2. This cools the air further to ~-25°C, which passes back to the refrigerated space. Meanwhile, the H2 flows at low temperature/pressure to the second hot reactor, where it is absorbed while releasing heat to ambient.

In the cycle’s second half, the functions of each reactor pair are exchanged. The hot reactor of the first pair is now cooled by ambient air as it absorbs the H2 being desorbed from the cold reactor, which now receives and further cools the cold air from the refrigerated space. The hot reactor of the second pair is heated by the exhaust gas, while the cold reactor is cooled by ambient air. Each half cycle the roles of each pair of reactors are reversed, and continuous refrigeration is produced on a 10-20 minute cycle.

The small amounts of electrical power needed to operate valves, fans and controls can be supplied from the vehicle alternator, batteries or solar power on the trailer roof. Standby heat can be provided electrically, by storing heat excess and/or coolth, or by combusting fuel in an ultra-low emissions porous media combustor.

Compared to the VCS, the Metal Hydride System (MHS) will eliminate the trailer’s genset and its associated fuel consumption and CO, NOx, PM and noise emissions, using a low GWP working fluid (H2), have fewer moving parts and lower maintenance costs, and be lighter and smaller. H2 is stable at high temperature, non-toxic, cheap, inert to materials of construction and can be handled safely.

The feasibility study concluded that the MHS is technically and commercially viable. It is expected to proceed to the next stage to develop, manufacture and test a prototype suitable for different scales of refrigerated transport units. To achieve this target, we are applying some funding from government and industries to support this project and welcoming some industrial partners in relevant areas to collaborate.

If any industrial companies are interested in this project, please contact Professor Yunting Ge through email gey@lsbu.ac.uk to discuss it in further details.

High resolution meteorological modelling for air quality

Led by: Humphrey Lean and Adrian Hill, Met Office

The meteorological wind and mixing within the urban environment play a key role in air quality as it influences factors such as chemical reactions and residence time (how long pollution remains in an area). The Met Office regional model development team is focused on the challenge of representing the complex diversity of the urban environment on many scales, down to the smallest street scales, in atmospheric models. This will consider the representation of turbulence and other processes in very high-resolution atmospheric models and also the development of methods to represent the urban surface. A key aspect of this work in relation to air quality is how transport and turbulent mixing are captured by these models. Firstly, there will be development of the Met Office’s existing 300m model of London, which runs routinely, and secondly the work will involve running research models of London at much finer grid lengths down to 25m. This work links with wider collaborative urban and high-resolution meteorological research activities being undertaken by the Met Office team based at Reading University. In conjunction with the high-resolution atmosphere-aerosol modelling and high-resolution full air quality modelling activities also taking place within the Clean Air programme, this theme is contributing to the eventual aim of a 100m scale coupled atmosphere-air quality model.

In addition, aerosol in the atmosphere is highly complex and dependent on a range of atmospheric processes. Work to study this is led by the Atmospheric Processes and Parameterisations group, looking to improve the modularity of the UKCA-mode aerosol scheme and develop capability and understanding of critical aspects of how high resolution meteorological-aerosol modelling performs. This work will also make use of the Met Office London model (300m grid length) and builds on existing aerosol, microphysics and high-resolution Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) work underway at the Met Office, supporting the future UK air quality forecast system.


Kilometre scale air quality model for the UK

Led by: Benjamin Drummond, Met Office

Although there is an abundance of regional scale air quality models operating with grid lengths typically at 10km, the same cannot be said of ‘complex’ models operating at higher resolution of around a kilometre. As part of the SPF Clean Air programme, the Met Office is developing a kilometre-scale air quality model for the UK. The Met Office currently provides the UK national air quality forecast that uses a numerical model operating on a 12x12km2 grid. This is much larger than the typical scales over which pollution concentrations vary in the atmosphere. It is also significantly coarser than the current UK weather prediction model that operates on a kilometre scale. The aim of this project is to develop a 1.5km grid air quality model covering the whole of the UK that will be in line with existing operational Met Office Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models. The benefits of increasing the spatial resolution of the model include:

  •  improved representation of atmospheric processes (such as convection) and better resolved surface features, which will improve surface interactions such as pollutant deposition;
  •  improved use of emissions datasets that are available at the higher resolution of km2 resolution such as the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory;
  •  improved resolved pollutant concentration gradients in the rural and urban background environment.  This is of particular importance for those pollutants that are short-lived in the atmosphere;
  •  and improved boundary and initial conditions required for the very high-resolution (100m scale) urban air quality models.










The above figures illustrate the improvements in the spatial representations of emissions when using the 2.2km resolution model (on the right-hand side) compared to the 12km resolution on the left.  The figures show the annual mean concentrations of Nitric Oxide (NO) over the UK and Ireland.  The higher resolution grid highlights emissions from the main road networks that can be clearly identified.

UK air quality reanalysis

Led by: Eleanor Smith, Met Office

In recent years the importance of understanding the impact of poor air quality on our health has moved higher up the political agenda. Efforts to fully understand the relationship between pollution episodes and the onset or deterioration of our health have been stepped up. It is acknowledged that pollution measurements from roadside and other locations do not provide the whole story as most of us do not spend a significant time in polluted outdoor locations. Instead, developing a clearer understanding of our actual exposure to polluted air (both indoor and outdoor) is key to making the link between pollution levels and health responses.

Air quality exposure assessments are typically performed using temporally or spatially limited modelling or measurement data. This places numerous limitations on health impact assessments. Whilst personal air quality exposure occurs at the individual scale, it is not practical to model this explicitly. However, it is also true that government policy, interventions and many other actions are by necessity based on wider population data and are also applied to broad cross sections of that population.

The Met Office provides the national air quality forecast. The modelling infrastructure created to deliver the best possible forecast is also ideally suited to generate what the meteorological community call a reanalysis. This is a model simulation in which observational data from the past is used to constrain the model, with the combined model-observation fusion providing a greatly improved re-creation of the past reality across the entire modelling domain. Such an approach requires a model and a system by which measurement data can be used within the model or an associated processing system. Such approaches, also used for forecasting and in meteorological modelling, are commonly called data assimilation.

The intention of this work is to generate 15 years of air quality concentrations for the whole of the UK. This will provide useful data for those looking to generate health impact studies, which usually require a generous timescale in order to analyse the health impact signals. It would also benefit those researchers involved in more localised (street level) air quality exposure calculations who will use the dataset as boundary conditions for their more localised analyses.

Lower troposphere and boundary layer measurements

Led by: Joss Kent, Met Office

While aerosol and gaseous pollutants in the UK are generally well-observed at the surface, and column-averaged information is increasingly available from satellite observations, there remains limited data on the vertical distribution of key pollutants in the UK boundary layer. More measurement data is needed across the lower troposphere and boundary layer to support air quality model evaluation and development.

This work is led by the Observations Based Research (OBR) team and leverages the unique capability that the Met Office has in the Civil Contingency Aircraft (MOCCA). The MOCCA flies for 10 hours per month to maintain crew currency and instrument testing. This resource allows the SPF Clean Air programme access to enough flying hours to mount a year-long measurement campaign. The duration as well as the vertical spatial domain will result in a unique additional data set of aspects of UK air quality. The programme will equip the aircraft with additional air monitoring instrumentation and support analysis and sharing/publishing of the data. In collaboration with the air quality team in the Met Office, the data will be used to evaluate the UK air quality forecast model. The evaluation code and data will also all be freely shared with the research community.

Clean Air framework

Led by: Noel Nelson, Met Office

The concept of a framework and/or systems approach to air quality study and analysis has many potential benefits.  Air quality is scientifically multi-disciplinary; spatially and temporally multi-scale; cross cutting in terms of policy and government structure from local, to national and across devolved administrations; and multi-faceted in terms of causes, sources and impacts.  This all highlights many components and interconnections that present their own shared challenges.  The level of resource and capability to genuinely span all these areas expertly simply does not reside within any single team or organisation.

There are however common requirements, dependencies and interconnections that lend themselves to a certain level of shared science, infrastructure, data and tools.  There exist examples of this level of shared resource, but these are often dispersed, each requiring individual approaches and effort, and they may not be perfectly matched to the use to which they are being put.  Community members' knowledge of these resources also varies considerably as does our shared understanding of what each are using and doing, and the limitations and uncertainties of inputs and our own activities and outputs.

The Met Office atmospheric dispersion and air quality (ADAQ) group and Informatics Lab will develop a Clean Air framework which will seek to:

Develop a community led and maintained resource that:

  • reduces duplication of effort;
  • enhances transparency;
  • provides easier access to data - measured and modelled;
  • provides and environment for easier evaluation and comparison of new information emerging from air quality analyses; and
  • provides and environment of shared tools and resources to service the needs of those involved in air quality management, whether this be through research, policy development, business of public information.

The nature of air quality as a broad multi-disciplinary subject presents its practitioners with challenges in terms of the breadth and depth of knowledge an individual would require to adequately span the subject, and in the potential number of collaborators necessary to ensure individual expertise in each field.  There is a need therefore to include the opinions and experiences of a range of experts in the field when developing the aspects of the framework.  The Clean Air programme will therefore seek to engage with the wider air quality community in developing a systems-led integrated approach to achieving its aims.  This work will be led by ADAQ and Dr Alex Archibald from the University of Cambridge and will consist of a number of events targeted at cross-disciplinary engagement.  There will be a strong link with work under the framework and also with the UKRI Clean Air Champions.

Developing a UK Community Emission Modelling System (DUKEMS)

Led by: Stefan Reis, UKCEH

The core objectives of the project 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. The focus is not on blue-skies discovery science, but primarily on supporting and enabling science. In order to ensure delivery and oversight, as well as safeguard the engagement with the wider community, the project will convene a User Group and a Stakeholder Group, with meetings throughout the project runtime.

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MAQS-Health (Multi-Model Air Quality System for Health Research)

Led by: David Carruthers, CERC

This project has been awarded in response to the call for ‘Urban Outdoor Air Quality Modelling’ to provide a high-resolution prediction capability to support personal exposure for health impacts. The system will comprise a coupled air quality modelling system spanning national to urban street scales and accounting for physical and chemical processes occurring at all relevant spatial and temporal scales.

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Data integration model for exposure modelling (DIMEX-UK)

Led by: Gavin Shaddick, University of Exeter

This project will develop a framework in which data on concentrations of air pollution can be combined with human activity and health data. The aim of the project is to develop a modelling framework to integrate ambient and indoor concentrations with human activity to estimate personal exposures to air pollution for use in future health impact analysis and other applications.

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National Physical Laboratory

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the Public Sector Research Establishment (PSRE) partners in the Clean Air Programme.  NPL is providing metrology support across both the UKRI and Met Office research activities through collaboration with project partners.  Metrology provides a measurement infrastructure which is stable over time, comparable between location, and coherent, allowing measurements of different properties using different methods to be combined.  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) Performance assessment of key sensor technologies using NPL laboratory and field test facilities
  • Development of (sensor and network) calibration methodologies
  • Evaluation of (sensor and network) uncertainties
  • Providing linkage to other activities (e.g. Breath London; DEFRA Black Carbon, Heavy Metals and new UK Urban NO2 networks)
  • Feeding key project outputs into European standardisation activities through CEN TC264 (Air Quality) WG42 on Air Quality Sensors

You can read more about the Clean Air: Analysis and Solutions Programme here

Please contact Tom Gardiner (tom.gardiner@npl.co.uk) for more information.

OSCA: Integrated Research Observation System for Clean Air

Observation System for Clean Air

Changes to transport systems, energy supplies, solvent use, methods for heating homes and agricultural systems are likely to cause profound changes in the emissions of air pollutants in the near future. The OSCA project will provide 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. Long term measurements will be carried out at 3 new air quality supersites as well as the BT Tower and current regional long term stations, and a call will be announced for UK science teams to use the sites during intensive observation periods to augment the continuous data sets.

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

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 the city.  The tool will be used to instigate new solutions to protect the health of vulnerable groups, allow the refinement of existing solutions to increase impact and reduce unintended consequences.

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

High pollutant concentrations are linked to a range of long-term adverse health effects, and it is thought that as well as aggravating symptoms, air pollution may contribute to the development of disease.  DREaM will identify the ways in which the components in the air pollution mix affect people's vulnerability to cardiovascular disease and the causal mechanisms behind this, by examining DNA modifications in key genes associated with air pollution.  The findings will help to develop targeted mitigation actions and communication strategies to help people understand the risks to health.

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QUANT: Quantification of Utility of Atmospheric Network Technologies

Quant Equipment

Low-cost air pollution sensors could play a vital role in improving air quality, but a deeper understanding of their performance is required to realise their full potential.  This project will directly address this challenge through the delivery of a real-world open and traceable assessment of low-cost sensors and sensor networks, including calibration methods, and provide key information on the use of low-cost sensors for tackling air pollution in the UK.  The project will also enhance the value of low-cost sensor data for specific UK air quality challenges through the development of novel methods that use the unique strengths of these devices to extract new information on key pollutants.

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

Anticipate - Stakeholder Meeting

UK public policies can have significant environmental, economic, social and political consequences over both near and distant timescales, but the full range of impacts are not always thoroughly considered at the appraisal stage. ANTICIPATE will improve awareness of the positive and negative consequences outside the core areas of intended impact, working on four policies selected from the UK Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, 25 Year Environment Plan and the NHS Long Term Plan.

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