New energy carriers in vehicles and their impact on confined infrastructures

Overview of previous research and research needs

Published:  19 April, 2010

The global warming debate forces the vehicle industry to come up with new environmentally friendly solutions. In 10 years time, or even faster depending on the pressure from different governments in particular in Europe, vehicles will not only use gasoline, diesel and LPG, but also CNG, Hydrogen, ethanol, DME and other bio-fuels, as well as batteries and fuel cells.

This quick development and the diversity of new energy carriers can jeopardize the safety in underground infrastructures such as tunnels or car parks. This can cause a major drawback in the adoption of new energy carriers as regulators or operators may prohibit use of these vehicles in underground systems if no new relevant measures will be taken. Unclear situation will also affect the implementation of international policies aiming at reducing the environmental footprint and especially CO2 emission in road traffic.

The problem became clear after a workshop with the vehicle industry, tunnel operators, authorities, and safety experts organised in November 2008 by L-surF Services with the support of ITA-COSUF, ECTP and HYSAFE. This workshop demonstrated that the construction sector lacks appropriate design data and tools as well as knowledge to build safe underground infrastructure compatible with a diversity of new and alternative energy carriers. Vehicle industry, infrastructure operators and regulators have not yet addressed this problem.

In a first part, an overview of the regulatory situation regarding safety and security of the admission of new energy carriers for vehicles in underground infrastructures is presented. Then, a detailed review of previous relevant research projects performed makes it possible to formulate recommendations in terms of a strategic research & development agenda. The overview shows that it is necessary to develop an integrated risk assessment and management method specific for underground transport systems, metros and hubs in confined spaces taking into account the “emerging risk” aspects.

  • Operation Florian

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