A collaborative £400k Innovate UK project between the University of Birmingham and Hubbard Products Ltd, led by Dearman Engine Company Ltd, will commence in July 2015. The project will deliver a cost-effective zero emissions auxiliary system for power and cooling to reduce CO2 emissions of refrigerated trucks and air-conditioned buses, in addition to other emissions benefits. 

The overall aim of the project is to deliver a mix of power and cooling, using a cost-effective and zero emission auxiliary system, to cut the fuel consumption of urban heavy duty vehicles, along with providing significant well-to-wheel GHG emissions savings. The project provides these savings by adapting the cutting-edge Dearman Engine, which is a rankine-cycle expander powered by liquid nitrogen.

The project will take advantage of the newly established £12m Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage (BCES) at the University of Birmingham. The fully equipped state-of-the-art Dearman Engine Research and Development laboratory, located at the University, will be used to deliver significant efficiency gains in the core Dearman Engine technology. These will principally be achieved through the optimisation of the engines operability, improvements in tribological systems and the development of a liquid nitrogen induction system.

 The majority of the world’s energy demands are supplied by crude oil, natural gas and coal.  In transportation, liquid hydro-carbon fuels consumption is expected to rise by 2030. This project will make progress towards the use of alternative energy carriers in transportation to meet the continually growing energy demand, whilst also being more efficient and environmentally cleaner. 

Dr Athanasios Tsolakis, Reader in Thermodynamics, School of Mechanical Engineering, said:  

This is an excellent combination of academic and industry partners, aiming to create exciting new technologies, which will be utilised in accelerating The Emerging Cold Economy. The increasing availability of clean and green energy carriers, such as liquid nitrogen, has attracted world-wide attention in both the energy and transportation sectors, as a potential substitute for oil-based fuels. This has triggered a great deal of research into their storage, production and utilisation, further driven by the potential technical, economic and environmental benefits that can be achieved through the introduction of these energy carriers.

The proposed research aims to accelerate the penetration of these clean energy carriers in transportation applications. The cost-effective adaptation of the Dearman Engine proposed aims to significantly improve the efficiency of urban heavy duty vehicles like buses and delivery trucks leading to the reduced pollutants including GHG emissions.

The relationship between the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Dearman Engine Company  Limited continues to grow, with Alumni of the School now employed as engineers at the company and several current students taking placements of the current 2015 Summer vacation. There are also plans for masters students to engage in Dearman related final year projects.


  • The Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage was established in 2013 through significant investment by UK industry and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). BCES brings together research expertise from across the University of Birmingham to drive innovation from the lab to the market.
  • Dearman Ltd was established in 2013 and is developing a suite of zero-emission technologies, powered by the expansion of liquid air or nitrogen. The technologies have applications in refrigerated transport, the built environment and commercial vehicles, such as city buses or refuse trucks. Across these applications, Dearman technology delivers significant cost and fuel savings to the operator, and environmental benefit to the local area.