Sustainable mobility in practice

Eighty percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from road transport. The Paris Climate Agreement means that the transport sector has plenty to do between now and 2050. At the same time, transport operators are serious about automated driving and electromobility. TNO is steering the transition with innovative solutions and helps to realise its ambitions.

In order to move towards clean and sustainable mobility, the development and deployment of technology must keep pace with legislation and policies. That is why TNO offers support at every step of the process. For example, we develop solutions using validated methods to optimise the technology for vehicle powertrain systems and to make the use of the required power more sustainable. We have a real-world verification and validation facility, where we validate our findings objectively. And we support government and industry in the actual integration into existing systems and networks.

Powertrains Research Group

TNO’s Powertrains Research Group focuses on applied research for efficient and sustainable powertrain systems that optimise overall system performance for both the on/off-road and maritime transport industry. Our researchers do this by using our Integrated Optimisation Framework with validated methods for predictive control strategies based on combined emission and energy management concepts. Systems with a high level of complexity can be tackled intuitively by following a physics-based modelling approach that also contributes to subsequent acceptance by our customers.

Four program lines

The challenge for greenhouse gas reduction lies mainly in urban transport and long-distance freight transport, according to TNO research. Within the current strategic programme Technology for Sustainable Mobility (2018 - 2021) TNO offers multi-level solutions for the design, deployment and operation of clean drive systems for vehicles. Here we are working on solutions that will enable the transition from the use of fossil fuels to sustainable fuels for long-distance and heavy transport and to electrical energy for regional and urban transport.  In addition to a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions, these solutions also meet local air quality and noise requirements.

TNO is developing solutions here via the following four programme lines:

  • Flex-Fuels & Combustion Technologies: The high-performance Reactivity Controlled Compressed Ignition (RCCI) concept based on Dual Fuel technology aims at improving combustion efficiency and substantially reducing engine emissions in the transition to a future sustainable fuel mix. This is interesting not only for long-distance transport but also for stationary applications such as generators.

    TNO has been working on advanced combustion concepts for more than ten years. RCCI is an important research area in our multi-year technology roadmap that targets a vehicle demonstration in 2021. One of the results is a multi-cylinder HD engine demonstration with a BMEP range of 25 bar, with NOx and PM emissions below the current Euro VI limit.
  • Electrified Powertrain Solutions: This programme line is aimed at assessing and advising on the technology required for the energy and cost optimisation of urban and regional mobility in the necessary transition to the clean, quiet and emission-free transport of people and goods. In its independent role TNO will profile itself as the 'Centre of Excellence' for the assessment of future clean and sustainable vehicle technologies in battery-powered electric, hybrid/fuel-cell combinations. Our validated models and verification methods for the use of energy in the lithium battery play a crucial role in this.
  • Powertrain Performance Validation Centre: for measuring, validating and assessing the actual energy consumption and associated emissions of conventional, hybrid or electric powertrains for on- and off-road vehicles in unique extreme conditions (pressure and temperature) to test the robustness of the system. In addition, we offer our validated models (SIMCAT) for the development and validation of exhaust gas after-treatment and recovery of residual heat (WHR).
  • Hydrogen for Fuel Cell Solutions: the long-term fuel transition and current trends show that hydrogen will play an increasingly important role as an energy carrier for electric transport. In order to achieve a CO2-neutral transport system, TNO is supporting the use of the fuel cell by carrying out system evaluation and optimisation with our hydrogen fuel cell models. Our validated algorithms make the best possible fuel cell configurations and deployment accessible. The result is a robust, efficient and reliable powertrain with the lowest possible TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Automotive research at TNO

Rob Schut BSc


Rob Schut BSc

  • Power trains

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