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Zero Carbon Learning Curve

Zero Carbon Learning Curve

The entire trucking industry, as well as truck makers, is on a steep zero emission learning curve as they grapple with the issues around reducing carbon emissions from trucks towards a zero target.

In the last few years, the entire trucking industry has become increasingly aware of the implications of the drive towards zero carbon emissions from road transport. As happens anytime there are major technological changes coming through in the truck industry various manufacturers will head off down different technological solution routes.

The trucking industry saw this in the process between 2000 and 2012, when regulations came in to reduce the amount of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides being emitted from truck exhausts, As the truck manufacturers moved quickly from Euro 2, through 3, 4 and 5, before the current change to Euro 6.

This period saw many different technological options become available and trucking operators were offered different technologies in different combinations across a range of different brands. Since that period of flux and over time, the technical knowledge has become more mature, to the point there there seems to be a consensus which has settled in the area of lower emission diesel engines, which now tend to use a SCR unit to reduce nitrogen oxides, and a DPF for the particulate matter

These after treatment units have become more sophisticated and more effective over the last 20 or so years. Now, we are embarking on a similar process with the drive towards zero carbon emissions from trucks.

However, this is unlikely to work its way work its way through the system over the next 20 years and come down to one single solution which suits everybody. The chances are that because of the different tasks and the different advantages of each of the technologies, that we are going to end up with a mix of different technologies within the road and transport industry in Australia.

We will be likely to see options all the way across the range of transport tasks. The solutions will probably be in its simplest form, basic battery electric vehicles running around cities and recharging, either overnight or when the opportunity allows, to enable them to fulfil their road transport task.

Image: Prime Creative Media

Over longer distances the jury’s still out but there are a number of different technologies which are likely to be effective. The more futuristic option is the is the hydrogen fuel cell which uses hydrogen through the fuel cell to create electricity to charge the battery, which then drives the truck.

Then we have also the possibility of hydrogen being used in an internal combustion engine (ICE) which can also reduce drastically reduce carbon emissions.

There are also some new fuels, sustainable fuels being developed which may be able to replace diesel in conventional diesel engines.

Plus, we still have other fuel saving technologies like hybridisation, which has proved to prove to be an effective way of reducing overall carbon emissions by at least 20 per cent.

In most cases, when a situation like this developed for an industry like the trucking industry, the most important element required at this point in the process is good information. We are talking about technologies with which the transport industry is not familiar and has not experienced in the past and it does not fully comprehend how it will behave, working day to day in the industry.

This is also an opportunity for disruptors to come into the vehicle manufacturing industry with new ideas and different options, which may or may not develop into mature practical options, within the industry, down the track.

At the same time the big truck makers are investing multiple billions of dollars into all sorts of technologies all over the world to try and come up with the best most effective solution for the trucking industry in all conditions and areas.


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