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Energy transition and sustainable development in transport
respect for the environment, a key issue at ESTACA

  • Sustainable Actions

Energy transition and sustainable development in transport:

respect for the environment, a key issue at ESTACA

Climate and energy transition represent a major challenge in the 21st century and tomorrow's engineers will have to help find solutions so that societies can grow sustainbly. Transport systems are one of the pillars of the environmental challenge: controlling energy consumption and raw materials, limiting polluting emissions, respecting the environment, congestion in urban areas and controlling land use, strong demand for mobility worldwide, combating the greenhouse effect and global warming. These are all challenges to be met by future engineers who must find new technological solutions and new applications for tomorrow.

ESTACA has been fully integrating the aspect of Sustainable Development into its training and research activities for about ten years. The School's strategy in terms of respect for the environment is reflected in:

  • raising the awareness of future engineers and training them in energy and climate issues,
  • developing association projects directly related to current energy issues,
  • implementing research programs devoted to environmental issues,
  • internal management aimed at further reducing the ecological footprint of the ESTACA campuses.

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Training: providing the tools needed to develop transport in a sustainable way

A technological revolution is underway in the transport sector to accelerate the deployment of clean vehicles and limit pollutant emissions, but also to develop connected and intelligent vehicles. ESTACA's ambition is to provide its students with all the tools to be actively involved in the current and future evolution. ESTACA’s training is designed to train the engineers of tomorrow to meet the challenges of energy transition:

⇨Students' awareness of environmental issues

Conferences and awareness days are regularly organised on campuses to make students aware of the role of the engineer in meeting the challenge of designing low-carbon transport modes.
For example, ESTACA is developing the "Fresque du Climat" workshops; a fun, interactive and creative workshop on climate change based on collective intelligence. The goal is to understand the principles of climate change and what is at stake.

⇨ Teaching dedicated to sustainable transportation

In the engineering programme, 3rd year students focus on sustainable development; for example, they review energy resources, conduct a macro and microeconomic analysis of the dependence on raw materials and applications to the transport of tomorrow. In 4th year, they address the issue of energy conversion and transfer (conversion of thermochemical energy into mechanical/electrical energy, etc.) and the performance and consumption of new engines.

In 5th year, three options are entirely devoted to environmental issues: New Energies and Environment, Vehicle Lightening and Eco-mobility.

⇨ Academic projects to concretely address the technological challenges of energy transition

ESTACA’s focus on project-based education teaches students to work in teams, with methods and resources from industry. Engineering study projects are suggested and supervised by partner companies or by teacher-researchers from the School. Many of the proposed projects directly concern the design of sustainable transport systems. Some examples of recent projects:

  • Euroglider: participation in the design of an electrically powered training glider in collaboration with schools in the ISAE Group, with a view to industrialization by a European manufacturer specializing in light aviation (in collaboration with Dassault Aviation).
  • Design of a support for an energy recovery aircraft (Stork's Nest)
  • Neo: conversion of a combustion-engine airplane to electric: GMP and energy chain study
  • Development of an electric go-kart
  • Development of an intelligent and communicating sensor for air quality monitoring
  • Digital study of the dispersion of pollutants from trucks
  • Design and development of instruments to measure fine particle emissions from a ship
  • UAV (drone) docking station - energy management part (in cooperation with a startup)
  • Hyperloop Wheel Drive Detail Development (with Safran)
  • Fuel cell project (with Dassault)
  • Conversion of an existing vehicle into an electric vehicle (WEZ'U project, with Airbus)
  • Development and study of the behaviour of intelligent composite materials
  • Establishment of the SNCF's freight fleet strategy to phase out diesel by 2035.

Associations: projects at the heart of new mobilities

At ESTACA, association projects are an integral part of the school's teaching. They are an opportunity for students to work on concrete cases that take account of all the industrial constraints in terms of budget, teamwork, meeting deadlines, communication needs, etc. Some projects focus on developing sustainable mobility, for example:

  • Shell Eco Marathon: every year, the association PV3e (ESTACA Energy Vehicle Project) takes part in this competition with the aim of covering the longest distance one a single litre of fuel. They design and build combustion and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to compete in the race. The association’s record is 2701km on one litre of petrol!
  • Hyperion project: design of a hyperloop capsule to take part in the Space X Hyperloop Pod Competition
  • Green turtle project: design of a robot to clean waste from the ocean floor (Wave association)

Research: working towards clean, safe and intelligent transport

The ESTACA’LAB research centre conducts research into innovative technologies for transport and mobility to respond to major societal and environmental challenges. It works to bring to light new technologies for green, sustainable and smart transport methods that are suited to new methods of mobility, in four areas:

  • Air Quality: Particle dispersion and infiltration / Reducing pollutant emissions / Characterization of pollutants
  • Energy and Control: On-board Energy Storage and Management / Electrification and Mechatronic Optimization / Fault Tolerant Controls
  • Lightening: Functional composite structures / Damage/durability / Eco-composites
  • Embedded Systems: Optimization of software architectures / Allocation on a hardware architecture / Connected mobility

ESTACA'LAB also works as part of local and national cooperation on research into sustainable transport. For example, ESTACA is one of the founding members of the Institut d'Excellence “Institut de la Transition Energétique” selected by the French government as part of their “Investments for the Future” scheme. Dedicated to automobile transport and mobility, this institute has three goals:

  • to reduce the energy impact of vehicles
  • to change user behavior
  • to rapidly develop information and communication technologies

The ESTACA'LAB teams are working on several projects directly related to reducing the environmental impact of transport, for example:

⇨Automotive pollution control and air quality: reducing pollutant emissions from internal combustion engines.

As part of cooperation with Toyota, the Air Quality team has conducted studies on the depollution of internal combustion vehicles to meet new European standards. As pollution control standards are becoming more and more restrictive, manufacturers are focusing on studying micro-leaks in engines.
There are three aims for the vehicle: to reduce pollutant emissions, to limit oil consumption and to better protect the vehicle engine.

⇨ Air quality in the railway sector: study of braking particles in underground enclosures

Limiting the impact of particulate pollution is a public health issue and one of the SNCF's major concerns. In this context, ESTACA has been asked to conduct research into the issue of braking particles. Using digital modelling, tests were carried out to analyse the influence of various parameters on the dispersion of braking particles. Wind tunnel tests were then used to validate the numerical results. Particles are also measured on an SNCF brake test bench. Once the different data is compiled, they provide a complete overview of flow path and velocity. Finally, these experimental models are validated in the field (on-board measurements in the driver’s cab, on-board measurements in the carriage, measurements on the platform).
The SNCF will be able to use the results obtained to make recommendations and take direct measures to fit out new trains (particle capture solutions), to adapt stations, tunnels and platforms to limit the inhalation of particles by passangers and staff inside the train or on the platform.

⇨ Air quality in the shipbuilding sector: determining fine particulate emissions from ship engines

This project has four objectives:

  • - to define and test in the laboratory, instrumentation suitable for measurements on board intermediate size vessels serving islands off the Atlantic coast (Sein, Ouessant);
  • - to quantify stack emissions dynamically, in particular during port manoeuvers, with real-time acquisition of ship parameters;
  • - to test innovative emission reduction solutions: with marine diesel additive or LNG propulsion (Liquid Natural Gas) installed on the Brittany Ferries ship HONFLEUR;
  • - to conduct air quality measurements on board, to evaluate passengers and crew’s exposure to fine particles.

⇨ Soft Mobility: an energy-sufficient electric bicycle

Currently being developed as part of a thesis funded by STEE and supported by ESTACA'LAB and Ampere Laboratories in Lyon, is a prototype of an electric bicycle that allows cyclists to produce their own electricity while pedalling. It will be 30% lighter than a standard electric bicycle, entirely recyclable and with unlimited autonomy (or until the cyclist is exhausted!). A demonstrator is visible at ESTACA'LAB

Campus: Towards responsible facilities that reduce our carbon footprint

Raising awareness of future engineers also means environmentally friendly management on the two ESTACA campuses in Paris Saclay and Laval. Management, staff and students are working together to help reduce the environmental footprint of our institutions. Here are some examples of actions carried out this year:

  • Creation of a Sustainable Development unit within the Student Office to implement, for example, the use of ecocups at all student events to limit the use of plastic cups.
  • Awareness-raising operations on selective sorting were carried out in both schools.
  • A 'Green Campus' group of students, teachers and administrative staff is working to develop environmentally friendly practices on the campuses.