28 February 2013

Working with an icon

Engineers at Oxford Brookes have been chosen to carry out a large study with part of London’s fleet of iconic red buses. They will be finding out how to optimise the fuel efficiency of the low emission hybrid versions of the red buses.

London's iconic red buses (photo © Transport for London)

The iconic red buses (photo © Transport for London)

There are about 300 hybrid buses in the UK capital (out of a total of 7,500 red buses). The vehicles use an electric motor alongside a conventional diesel engine and, because they switch to battery power at low speeds, the vehicles should deliver fuel savings of 30 per cent.

A team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences won the bid to evaluate the performance of London’s hybrid fuel buses. This is particularly important as every bus now being introduced to the fleet is a hybrid in a bid to make the city cleaner and quieter. The first diesel-electric hybrid buses were introduced to the capital in 2006.

The project team is led by Dr Stephen Samuel and consists of Professor Denise Morrey and James Larminie. They are being supported by Andrew Baxter from the Research and Business Development Office (RBDO). Oxford Brookes is working alongside WSP, a leading consultancy in the realm of public transport.

The study to be undertaken by Oxford Brookes and WSP will look at:

  • an analysis of any significant fuel consumption variations across different routes in London using the same type and model of hybrid bus
  • an analysis of the impact of different driving styles with a view to optimising fuel consumption
  • an evaluation of the performance of the two different hybrid drive trains currently in use
  • an investigation of the route characteristics that are best suited to the optimal operation of hybrid buses.

During the six-month project the Oxford Brookes team will work towards identifying an operating strategy to optimise fuel economy of the current fleet and also for future fleets.