Sustainable transport and logistics expert group

Sustainable traffic and transport

To reduce the impact of traffic and transport on our environment, we focus our expertise at TNO on making vehicles cleaner and more fuel-efficient. For sustainable mobility, we research the emissions and energy use of vehicles and vessels. We also analyse traffic flows to make them smarter and more efficient. In logistics, we help to accelerate sustainable innovations by organising pilots. Our insights offer policymakers and businesses options for action, for today and tomorrow.

Futureproof logistics

TNO’s Logistics team develops knowledge and methodologies for setting up efficient and sustainable logistics flows. We’re working towards tomorrow's mainport region as a hub in global goods chains. Using IT, we make logistics chains function optimally. Using serious gaming, living labs, and transport models, we design, manage, and plan advanced logistics processes.

Through our activities, we aim to contribute to a seamlessly connected logistics system that is more efficient, creates new business, and drastically reduces CO2 emissions. We do this by developing, introducing, and promoting smart new logistics concepts. Our focus in this is on the following three topics:

1. Automated and self-organising logistics

Our logistics system will show an increasing degree of self-organisation in the future. At TNO, we’re already working on that vision of the future and preparing the logistics sector for the future by offering options for action. Using experiments, we’re showing, for example, whether and how automation and self-organisation work.

We’re simultaneously working on far-reaching automation of logistics, such as the autonomous port, truck platooning, and self-organisation. What does it mean for logistics partners when a parcel in a container is able to route itself around the world, right to the recipient’s doormat? With our knowledge of such innovations, we help logistics parties take the right steps and smartly anticipate the future.

2. Data-driven logistics

Research by TNO shows that data sharing throughout the logistics chain pays off. By combining and enriching all data on offered cargo and the availability of lorries, planes, trains, and ships, we can organise the transport system much more efficiently and make logistics chains function optimally.

These data can also contribute to the robustness of the logistics sector, making it more responsive to rapid change. We’re showing this in demonstrator projects at a corridor level, but also concretely in the operations of logistics parties.

3. Transition to carbon-neutral logistics

Using realistic business cases, we offer companies and policymakers insight (and thus options for action) for reducing CO2 emissions in the logistics chain. To come through on the Paris Agreement climate targets, we need to combine measures. Technological solutions alone will not get us there. Therefore, we develop and accelerate innovative logistics concepts in which we encourage collaboration between logistics parties in the chain.

A good example is increasing load factors through intra-chain collaboration and synchromodal planning. Or reducing vehicle kilometres by introducing construction logistics innovations. Consider, for example, hubs on the outskirts of cities, combined with the deployment of zero-emission vehicles for urban logistics.

Clean and fuel-efficient vehicles

TNO’s Sustainable Mobility team is working hard to make the vehicle fleet cleaner and more fuel-efficient. We carry out extensive emission measurements on vehicles and advise policymakers on effective measures that contribute to a cleaner living environment.

At the heart of our work is the collecting, linking, enriching, and interpreting of vehicle data on emissions and behaviour. We embed the knowledge gained in our models, which we use to advise our clients on the following three topics:

1. Real-world emissions from vehicles and vessels

TNO is a leader in the Netherlands and Europe in the field of real-world emissions from traffic and transport. We have been measuring emissions from motor vehicles on the road under real conditions for many years. The results often show that there is still a significant gap between legal standards and actual emissions.

The research results will help public authorities create better laws for clean and fuel-efficient cars and enforce them. Using our advanced measurement and analysis methods and real-world data, we also help manufacturers make vehicles as clean and energy-efficient as possible.

2. Transition to CO2-neutral mobility

Mobility accounts for a large share of our total CO2-footprint. Meeting the Paris Agreement’s climate targets will require a drastic change in our mobility system. This transition requires smart combinations of measures and sustainable technologies. Some of these are already contributing to the ‘decarbonisation’ of mobility in the short term, while others require further development.

TNO has in-depth knowledge of the mobility system and has models that take account of the relationships between the effects of different measures. This allows us to provide public authorities and businesses with valuable insights to accelerate the transition to CO2-neutral mobility.

3. Clean and energy-efficient mobility in cities

With our knowledge of field emissions and the transition to CO2-neutral mobility, we help cities find effective measures to make their mobility system more sustainable. Using fleet scans, we can make statements about current traffic emissions in the city and indicate which interventions in traffic or the fleet would be most effective. We provide cities with tools, insights, and roadmaps for the transition to clean CO2-neutral mobility.

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The transition to sustainable shipping

Through research, we are working to make maritime, inland shipping, and ports more sustainable. This is how we contribute to the maritime energy transition.

Monitoring actual emissions: report summary


Actual energy consumption and emissions


Innovations for sustainable logistics