The European SME haulage industry is under unprecedented pressure due to fuel price increases and environmental pollution. If crude oil prices average $80 a barrel in 2008 as predicted, prices will have risen 154% since 2003. In real terms, fuel prices have risen 42% in the last 4 years. Fuel constitutes 30% of the operating costs, therefore costs are increasing at nearly twice the rate of inflation. The haulage industry in Europe emits over 922.6 M tons of pollutants every year which is not sustainable. The industry faces increased taxation and legislation, impacting on profitability. The average profit margin for a haulage firm is between 0% and 2%, down from over 3.5% in 2003. The problems above are worse for the refrigerated transport industry because refrigerated vehicles consume extra fuel to run the refrigeration plant. The industry is in desperate need of any technologies that can help reduce operating costs and restore profitability. This is important because 72.5% of freight in Europe is moved by road. Low-resistance tyres and aerodynamic packages are helping but technologies specifically directed at refrigerated vehicles are required. This project is motivated by the fact that even correctly operating refrigeration systems leak refrigerant which causes a reduction in coefficient of performance. This in turn raises the compressor duty cycle and further increases fuel consumption. Refrigerants are hydroflorourocarbons which have a high global warming potential and so contribute further pollutants. We will develop a refrigerant leakage monitoring system based on a network of low-cost surface acoustic wave sensors. This will enable the refrigerant charge of a system to be maintained at the optimum level so that it operates at the design maximum COP. The benefit of this system will be a decrease in operating costs equivalent to approximately a 5% reduction in fuel consumption equating to a saving of €2250 per annum for a refrigerated trailer.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs