Transforming heavy vehicles for more energy-efficient freight

An EU-funded research project has developed innovations in truck and semi-trailer design that could increase energy efficiency by up to 25 %, supporting the EU's goal of improving the sustainability of Europeean transport sector.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


 

Published: 8 August 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnvironmentClimate & global change
Industrial research
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
SMEs
TransportRoad
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Belgium  |  France  |  Germany  |  Netherlands  |  Sweden
Add to PDF "basket"

Transforming heavy vehicles for more energy-efficient freight

Image

© Volvo Technology, 2017

The transport of freight in Europe, whether raw materials or finished goods, is still predominantly carried out by road, with goods moved by road accounting for as much as 75 % of freight transported within the EU. Moreover, road freight transport is expected to continue to play a predominant role in the multimodal freight transport network.

In its 2011 Transport Policy White Paper, the European Commission sets out its plans to develop and promote transport policies that are efficient, safe, secure and sustainable, including the goal of cutting transport emissions by 60 % by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. This must be achieved if we are to limit global warming to a rise in temperature of just 2ºC.

Improving the energy performance of transport, including heavy-duty vehicles, was identified as one of the routes that could contribute to reaching this objective. The EU-funded TRANSFORMERS project, which falls under the European Green Vehicles Initiative, tackled this challenge head-on, bringing together 13 partners from six European countries to look at ways of improving the energy efficiency of semi-trailers and trucks.

“Current semi-trailer combinations are very much a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, being optimised for a limited number of cases and not sufficiently adaptable for the significant variations we see in ratio of weight to volume,” says project coordinator Paul Adams of Volvo in Sweden.

Modular energy savings

TRANSFORMERS focused on road tractor and semi-trailer combinations transporting palletised goods on regional to long-haul missions over more than 300 km. Its main aims were to reduce fuel consumption and increase load optimisation, which it did through three main innovations.

The first was the development of a distributed, trailer-mounted hybrid-on-demand (HoD) electric drivetrain mounted on the trailer. This recuperates energy during braking and uses it to provide supplementary power to the conventional drivetrain when needed.

The second innovation looked at ways to change the shape of the vehicle in order to improve its aerodynamics depending on the weight and volume of the goods to be transported. Energy savings of as much as 8 % can be achieved using this approach.

Furthermore, the project partners looked at ways of optimising loading capacity by using an easily adaptable modular double floor within the trailer itself with other innovations to increase cargo capacity within current regulations. Overall, energy savings of up to 25 % were achieved through these innovations.

European award-winner

“In the TRANSFORMERS project, we successfully developed and demonstrated a range of innovations to improve transport efficiency within the road haulage industry, combining them in semi-trailer units that are easily mission-adaptable.”

A prototype HoD trailer produced as part of the project won the European Transport Award for Sustainability 2018. In addition, much of the work carried out within the project will be further developed in the Horizon 2020 funded AEROFLEX project, which will continue to develop the next generation of long-distance road transport vehicles.

Project details

  • Project acronym: TRANSFORMERS
  • Participants: Sweden (Coordinator), Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria
  • Project N°: 605170
  • Total costs: € 7 856 432
  • EU contribution: € 5 199 315
  • Duration: September 2013 to August 2017

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected




loading
Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details