Future routes for clean bus technology

Retrofit technology can bring immediate benefits to bus fleets and its influence is spreading fast.

Cleaning up emissions from the exhaust is one thing, but removing them completely from the equation is quite another.

Finland’s Proventia is one of the other companies involved and is in the process of upgrading over 170 buses in conjunction with Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire-based Excalibre Technologies, its UK partner.

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Proventia has been busy developing an SCRT system under the NOxBuster banner. Fitted to a Euro 3 Volvo B12 bus, it is said to cut NOx by 94% and particulates by 95% and to be especially effective in the extreme winter temperatures experienced in the Nordic countries.
Eminox is marketing its SCRT system elsewhere in Europe. Over 750 buses in Barcelona, Spain, are in the process of being equipped with it while in Belgium bus fleet operator DeLijn already has it on almost 300 of its vehicles.

Londoners are not the only Britons whose lungs are set to benefit from the arrival of cleaner buses. Eminox points out that the Department for Transport and the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are actively supporting efforts to cut passenger transport emissions elsewhere in England as local authorities battle to meet air quality targets.

Grants are being made from the Clean Bus Technology Fund. Two tranches of funding were released in 2013 – £5m in June and a further £1.4m in October – with the aim of reducing particulates and Nox.

Among the beneficiaries are West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Merseytravel. The funding can be used for everything from SCRT to the introduction of hybrids.
The importance of clean air is illustrated by work carried out by KentAir, the Kent and Medway Air Quality Monitoring Network. It claims that no less than 1,050 early deaths occurred in its catchment area in 2011 as a consequence of particulates.

“The impact of poor air quality on human health is twice that of physical inactivity and comparable with that of alcohol misuse,” said a spokesman at a conference in Maidstone also attended by Eminox, Go-Ahead and TfL. “If man-made particles could be eliminated completely then life expectancy would increase by from seven to eight years.”

There are of course other ways of cleaning up the streets than by installing a SCRT package or going the hybrid route.

Go-Ahead has just put London’s first two fully-electric buses into service. Both 12m models built by Chinese manufacturer BYD, they are operating on the 507 and 521 routes in the centre of the capital.

BYD claims that the range of its ebus between recharges comfortably exceeds 250km. For proof it points to its experience in its domestic market, with 220 of the vehicles in service carrying up to 120 people apiece in the rush hour with the air-conditioning turned right up.

In the UK a full re-charge costs less than £20 using off-peak electricity says BYD: and ebus of course produces zero exhaust emissions.

The energy has to come from somewhere however: and in the UK it is quite likely that it will come from a coal-fired or nuclear power station.

While some might argue that this simply displaces emissions out of sight, and consequently out of mind, ensuring they’re not around population centres has an immediate health benefit.
Studies also show that global pollution levels can be lowered, so including batteries in the mix is compelling.