Research and innovation to develop solutions to air pollution

Woman holding a mask to her face to avoid traffic air pollution

Air pollution is a global health concern. Innovate UK is supporting UK businesses to develop new products to tackle key unmet pollution challenges.

Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health threat. In the UK alone it is responsible for around 40,000 early deaths and costs billions of pounds annually in health and care services.

The composition, interactions and impacts of pollution are increasingly complex. To better understand the intricate synergies and systems at play, and plan future interventions, the government has invested £42.5 million in a programme of high-quality, multidisciplinary, research and innovation.

Clean air initiative

Partners in the six-year initiative include:

The partners have also engaged a team of senior academics to act as Clean Air Champions, to ensure that the work connects with:

  • the public
  • wider government policy
  • the business community.

Innovation pilots

Innovate UK is leading a series of innovation pilots. The pilots will employ the pre-commercial procurement instrument Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to use business expertise to bring new products to market that address pressing air quality challenges.

In the first of three competitions, Innovate UK looked to tackle three causes of pollution which have yet to be resolved:

  1. Particulates from road vehicle brake and tyre wear or road surface wear.
  2. Emissions from machinery used for construction.
  3. Pollution from transport refrigeration units.

Six businesses were funded initially to conduct feasibility studies, and of these, three were further funded to produce, test, and optimise prototypes ready to commercialise.


The AutoAlign project, led by RL Capital Ltd, used sensor technology, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to address excess pollution caused by misaligned vehicle tyres.

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an auto generated transcript is available on YouTube.


CAGE, led by Oaktec, has focused on reducing diesel pollution by producing a clean air gas engine to be used on construction sites.

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an auto generated transcript is available on YouTube.


CoolRun is led by Hubl. It used a novel storage pod system alongside phase change temperature management to reduce or eliminate the use of secondary engines employed to power the refrigeration on delivery vehicles.

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an auto generated transcript is available on YouTube.

Entering the market

All three of these innovations are now entering the market with the aim of tackling air pollution and the health issues it causes. They will also creating high quality sustainable jobs for the UK.

The Clean Air programme will continue to produce research and innovative solutions until 2025. You can follow developments on Twitter.

Further information

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Top image:  Credit: torwai, Getty Images

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