NORTH-East researchers are starting a £1m project looking at reducing transport carbon emissions and tackling climate change.

The team from Durham University is part of Network-H2, which is looking into hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and technology to try and decarbonise transport emissions.

Road, rail, air and marine transport accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions making it a significant contributor to climate change.

Network-H2 director and Durham University professor Tony Roskilly said: “We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to cut the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

“Developing sustainable alternatives to the fuels we currently use for our transport system is crucial if we are going to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the next 20 to 30 years.

“Hydrogen provides us with a potentially clean option to decarbonise transport by removing the detrimental effects that using fossil fuels has on the environment and public health."

The project, which is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), brings together internationally leading experts from energy as well as the road, rail, air and marine transport sectors to support the decarbonisation of the whole transport network.

It will look at the technological, social, political and economic factors necessary to increase the use of hydrogen as a fuel while also seeking to maximise knowledge exchange between researchers and industry.

Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are being looked at because the produce only heat and water and are considered to offer a clean and renewable alternative to fossil fuels, with the potential to bring significant environmental benefits to transport, society and the wider energy system.

Expert Dr Andrew Smallbone, an associate professor in Durham's engineering department said: “Battery electric vehicles are now a serious option for road transport for short range, lightweight vehicles.

“However, analysis shows that the hydrogen option makes ever more sense for larger vehicles and for regular long journeys.

“This makes it a credible option for decarbonising parts of the transport system including the marine and freight sectors.

“Furthermore, a scaled-up hydrogen transportation sector offers huge benefits to managing flexibility in the UK power, heat and wider energy system.”

The Network-H2 team, which includes researchers at Newcastle and Southampton universities, is one of five decarbonising transport networks funded by the EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation.