Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Liquid Air on the Highway

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Liquid Air on the Highway
The environmental and business case for liquid air commercial vehicles in the UK
In Development – tbc

Resource efficiency (e.g. filling line efficiency), Storage and Transport efficiency

Product Categories

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Supply Chain Phase


Liquid air vehicles could achieve significant  reductions in emissions of fatal air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). A projected fleet of just 13,000 liquid air refrigerated trailers would reduce NOx emissions by the same amount as taking 80,000 Euro 6 trucks or 1.2 million Euro 6 diesel cars off the road. It would be the PM equivalent of removing 367,000 such trucks from service – more than three times the entire UK articulated truck fleet today – or 2.2 million Euro 6 diesel cars.

The development of liquid air vehicles would produce substantial economic, industrial and employment benefits to UK plc. On cautious assumptions, by 2025 Britain could be making 51,000 liquid air engines per year, generating net revenues of £276 million and almost 1,100 jobs. On more ambitious assumptions, it would manufacture 173,000, generating net revenues of £713 million and more than 2,100 jobs.

Infrastructure is not a barrier to entry. The roll-out of liquid air vehicles could be fuelled entirely from spare liquid nitrogen production capacity until at least 2019. By 2025, new transport demand for liquid nitrogen or air could more than double the size of the market.


Key to renewables replacing fossil fuels in transport is how to ‘pack’ and store the energy that is produced so that we can use it when it is needed in transport applications e.g. batteries or hydrogen.

Liquefying air is the cornerstone of the industrial gas industry (liquid nitrogen, oxygen, etc) – but it has only recently been seen as a pioneering solution to the problem of energy storage; capturing ‘wrong time’ or surplus renewable energy to use on demand in grid or transport applications.

Air turns into a liquid when cooled to around -196C using standard industrial equipment. This process can be driven by renewable or wrong-time/off-peak energy. 710 litres of ambient air becomes about 1 litre of liquid air, which can be stored in an unpressurised, insulated vessel. #

When ambient or low grade waste heat is reintroduced to liquid air it boils and turns back into a gas, expanding 710 times in volume. This can be used to drive an engine. It also exhausts lots of cold, making it highly relevant for processes which require power and cooling.

Liquid air is now recognised as a potentially powerful new energy vector, and has received some £20 million in government grants.

These grants include:
►£9 million support to develop Liquid Air Energy Storage for storing grid electricity;
►£6 million for the new Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage at Birmingham University; and
►£5 million to develop liquid air vehicle engines

Potential Benefits

Carbon savings; cost savings;

Intellectual Property


Consultant View


Contacts and Further Information

For further information, please contact
Toby Peters | CEO, Dearman Engine Company | 0203 617 9170

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