Wednesday, 16 September 2015

SusChem: Moving on Mobility!

Today (16 September) the EU-wide celebrations for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK launched at the European Parliament in Brussels. The 2015 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK launch focused on encouraging cycle commuting and integrating cycling in multimodal travel with the motto: ‘Choose. Change. Combine.’ The full week presents a wide range of sustainable mobility alternatives to citizens, explains the challenges that cities and towns are facing to induce behavioural change and make progress towards creating a more sustainable transport strategy for Europe.

Mobility is clearly one of the major challenges facing our urban areas today. And it is an area where SusChem and sustainable chemistry is contributing. SusChem’s recent Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda has a dedicated chapter on Smart, Green and Integrated Transport covering many innovations that are vital to achieving more sustainable mobility.

Chemistry contributions
Electric mobility must play an important role in the future and chemistry already offers numerous products and solutions in this area. The battery is the key component in electric vehicles and chemistry can make this technology more affordable, powerful and secure with the aim of increasing the range of vehicles.

In addition, lightweight design of vehicles is important. If the weight of a vehicle drops, its range can increase and / or it will use less energy. The chemical industry offers tailor-made polymers for many different applications from vehicle bodies to the engine compartment. Vehicles can be designed using recyclable materials, such as bio- and smart-materials, that can ensure vehicles do not become waste at the end of their useful life.  And new tyre concepts can reduce rolling resistance and extend range.

Managing energy in vehicles is important for efficiency especially for electric vehicles. In summer, air conditioning consumes additional energy, while in winter good insulation is important. In contrast to internal combustion engines the electric motor produces nearly no ‘waste’ heat. Chemical products can help here: special pigments applied on the windows reduce the warming of the interior in the sun, while high-performance foams offer perfect insulation in the winter.

If the internal combustion engine remains a significant propulsion source in vehicles in the short to medium term, sustainable chemistry will help through new catalytic exhaust gas treatments to remove organic compounds and fine particles. And fossil fuels can be substituted by synthetic fuels made, for example, by the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) with solar energy or by fuels made from renewable (biomass) sources. Hydrogen produced efficiently from renewable sources is also a potential emission-free alternative to fossils fuels.

Smart mobility – sustainable solutions
The free movement of people and products is an essential element of our modern urban environment. However mobility comes at a cost: the consumption of a vast amount of energy (30% of the total energy consumed in the EU).

And with energy consumption – especially energy derived from fossil fuels – comes pollution. Mobility contributes considerably to CO2 emissions as well as other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides or small particles. Urban mobility accounts for some 40% of all CO2 emissions by road transport and up to 70% of other pollutants generated by transport.

Some of the solutions that sustainable chemistry can provide to meet the mobility challenge for Smart Cities and help stem urban air pollution are described above. But you can find much more information and ideas on mobility issues and sustainable chemistry solutions from SusChem, especially in the context of urban environments, at the resources outlined below.

SusChem is heavily involved with the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities and you can download our Smart Cities Brochure. Mobility and Smart City solutions are also featured on our dedicated Smart Cities mobility page and the Innovation for Growth website.

What is European Mobility Week?
EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK is an annual campaign on sustainable urban mobility supported by the European Commission’s directorates for Energy and Transport. The aim of the campaign is to encourage European local authorities to introduce and promote sustainable transport measures.

The week runs from 16 to 22 September every year and sees events taking place across Europe and globally. ‘Choose. Change. Combine’ is the motto for 2015 and embracing multimodality is the main theme of the week. The aim is to encourage people to think about the range of transport options available, to choose the right mode when travelling, and inviting people to combine ways of getting around, which can often lead to a quicker and more pleasant journey.

Since 2002 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has sought to influence mobility and urban transport issues, as well as improve the health and quality of life of citizens. The campaign also gives citizens the chance to explore what the role of city streets really is, and to explore concrete solutions to tackle urban challenges, such as air pollution.

To discover more about how participating cities have used the campaign to enhance their sustainable transport policies, visit the best practice guides.

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