Broad collaboration to give fossil-free transport

A broad research and innovation programme from universities, industry and government agencies is designed to lead to fossil-free freight transport by 2045. Magnus Blinge, adjunct professor in environmental logistics, is coordinating work at LiU.

Fossil free transportsFossil free transports Photo credit: iStock/phaisarn2517If Sweden is to reach its goal of becoming free of fossil fuels by 2045, the transport sector must be completely realigned. The country intends to become one of the first advanced countries that reaches this goal. On the way, one important intermediate goal is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 70% by 2030.

Triple F

The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) is for this reason investing SEK 290 million between now and 2030, and expects business and other actors to provide a further SEK 100 million. The Triple F project (Fossil-Free Freight) is being conducted by “Closer” a collaboration platform at Lindholmen Science Park, together with the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE).

“Several research groups at LiU, in both Linköping and Norrköping, have important expertise in this field, and we already have a well-functioning collaboration with VTI”, Magnus Blinge points out. His principal employment is at the Lindholmen Science Park, but he was appointed to a part-time post as adjunct professor in environmental logistics at LiU on 1 September.

The strategic collaboration with VTI is important in this context, since LiU and VTI have experience in joint doctoral students. One major component of Triple F is a large programme of doctoral studentships, with at least 21 students being taken on during the 12 years of the programme. The Swedish Transport Administration, however, does not want to see any exclusively academic doctoral students, and intends that the positions will be shared between research institutes or companies and academia.

“To be honest, at the universities we’re not too happy about this condition, but we’re trying to find solutions”, says Magnus Blinge.

Three challenges

In addition to LiU, Chalmers University of Technology, the Royal Institute of Technology, and Lund University have shown an interest, as also have, for example, the University of Gothenburg, Örebro University, Jönköping University, the Luleå University of Technology and the University of Borås.

The research education and innovation within Triple F will be directed towards three challenges: A society with more efficient transport, a transition to energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicles and ships, and an increased fraction of fuel from renewable sources. Research funds, however, will not be distributed by a traditional applications procedure.

“No, we’re going to do things differently. We have a programme management with people from Lindholmen Science Park, VTI and RISE. They are to collect ideas, and then, supported by an international and independent expert group, make a proposal to the programme board about which ideas are to become reality. They will also propose who is to participate. These can be people from academia, industry, research institutes or organisations”, Magnus Blinge explains.

Innovation projects

The aim of the various innovation projects is to create favourable conditions for successful implementation of the research results – in society and in business.

“This may mean that it’s necessary to get a legal expert involved in order for an idea to be carried out and become an actual, useful innovation, or someone who is an expert in new business models”, Magnus continues.

In other words, several actors are to compete for funds from Triple F, including researchers within logistics and quality development, vehicle systems, and communication and transport systems at LiU.

“But there are other research groups at LiU who may also be interesting, and it’s my task to coordinate the work, because the more people who are active in the Triple F project, the greater will be the chance of getting to participate”, says Magnus Blinge.

Director for Triple F is Maria Oscott, Lindholmen Science Park. Heads of research within the programme are Jenny Karlsson and Inge Vierth, VTI, and Patrik Klintblom, RISE, while chair of the programme board is Elisabeth Nilsson, who has recently left her post as county governor in Östergötland.

Translation George Farrants

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