STOA-Project: Alternative Technology Options for Road and Air Transport

Project description

The project aims at compiling a catalogue that offers a sound but concise overview of Alternative Technology Options for Road and Air Transport.

Energy-related Technology Assessment has been a subject of countless studies and publications for several decades worldwide. They cover almost all aspects of energy supply, economics, policy and strategies; but they differ widely in depth and scope, especially regarding technologies, timeframes or geographical boundaries. What is lacking is material that is easily accessible to non-experts and that offers at the same time an impartial discussion on possible political actions at a European-wide - rather than purely national - level.

In the transport sector, despite a number of political initiatives, the energy demands as well as greenhouse gas emissions are growing at alarming speeds. This holds true especially for road and air transport. Recent volatility in oil prices as well as the corresponding political instabilities in important oil-exporting countries has -again - brought the oil dependence of these sectors as well as related issues of energy security and economic perspectives to public and political attention. One option to break through the vicious circle between economic growth, energy demand in transport and oil dependence is to substitute oil-based fuels and propulsion technologies with alternative technologies. A wide range of non oil-based options for road and air transport has been developed in the last decade, and some technologies are already commercialised. However, it is currently impossible to predict which technologies will emerge as the front-runners for Europe.

Although a variety of publications on alternative fuel and propulsion systems are available, the information is usually fragmented, either too scientific or simplistic in its presentation, more often than not biased because of commercial interests or political agendas, and generally not comparable. In other words: there is a need for a structured and reliable overview of technical options in order to support political and practical decisions upon future alternative transportation solutions. This is especially true for an integrative perspective, since different fuels (diesel, ethanol, methanol, natural gas, hydrogen, DME, kerosene, ...) can be produced via different pathways from fossil, regenerative or nuclear sources of primary energy and can be used in different propulsion systems (conventional internal combustion engines, fuel cells or hybrids for road transport; turbojet engines, turbofans, gas turbine-powered propeller engines or conventional piston engines for air transport). These options imply different designs for cars and aircraft and require different fuel supply infrastructures.

In this context the project aims at compiling a catalogue that offers a sound but concise and not too detailed overview of Alternative Technology Options for Road and Air Transport. Its objective is to contribute to improved transparency and governance of this highly complex and often controversial field. This will be compiled on the basis of available literature and by structured discussions with experts from science, industry and stakeholder organisations. Relevant options are described technically and assessed with regard to their economic perspectives, their contribution to substitute fossil fuels in transport and their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other pollutants.


Schippl, J.
Alternative Antriebstechnologien für den Straßenverkehr. Vor- und Nachteile ausgewählter Technologiepfade im Überblick
2007. Berufsakademie Mosbach: Weg vom Öl - Was bewegt uns morgen (2007), Moosbach, Germany, October 24, 2007 


Dipl.-Phys. Torsten Fleischer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24571