Zero emission transport refrigeration system trialled

Technology firm Dearman claims system is alternative to conventional diesel-powered transport refrigeration units

A zero emission refrigeration system designed to produce both power and cooling for vehicles transporting chilled products has begun on-vehicle testing, according to UK technology developer Dearman.

Powered by a liquid nitrogen-powered engine, Dearman said the technology is designed as an alternative to existing “highly polluting, fossil-fuelled transport refrigeration units”, which it claims emit more air pollutants than a Euro 6 diesel driving engine itself.

the Cool E zero emission transport refrigeration system

the Cool-E zero emission transport refrigeration system

According to Dearman, conventional diesel refrigeration units emit up to six times as much nitrogen oxide and 29 times as many particulates as a Euro 6 diesel engine.

Transport refrigeration units account for up to 20% of the vehicle’s total diesel usage, and with global demand expected to grow for such units to 9.6 million, the firm claims its technology can help to reduce air pollution as well as carbon emissions while cutting operational vehicle costs.

Dearman said initial testing has been “promising” as the system is “already able to cool the chilled trailer more quickly than a conventional diesel refrigeration unit”.

Professor Toby Peters, founder and senior group managing director of Dearman, said: “This is a key moment in the development of cutting edge, zero-emission clean cold and power technology. With the global demand for cooling, and transport refrigeration in particular, growing extremely rapidly, we are faced with an environmental challenge but also an economic opportunity. The fact that our system is running, and that it has already delivered very promising results, highlights the role that Dearman technology can play in meeting the inescapable need for sustainable cooling.”

Government funding

The “revolutionary” Dearman system is being tested as part of a government-backed project known as Cool E, which is managed by a consortium of Dearman, vehicle technology firm MIRA, Air Products and Loughborough University.

Jon Trembley at Air Products said: “This project is already showing how R&D can help solve environmental challenges in a commercially viable way. By linking up with UK government and leveraging the expertise of companies such as ourselves, advancements in combined cold and power technology can not only be realised, but can also play an important role in the country’s progression towards a low carbon future.”

Dr Andy Williams at Loughborough University said: “Cold energy stores such as liquid nitrogen or liquid air have over ten times the cooling capacity than the heat they can absorb. It is exciting to see the Dearman engine enabling access to this extra cooling power within the Cool-E project, paving the way for future cold energy technologies.”

On-vehicle testing of the system will continue through the summer, with the first unit expected to go into commercial field trials later this year and larger scale European and international testing set for 2016.

It follows the news last week (March 24) that Innovate UK — the government’s technology strategy board — has awarded Dearman a Smart Grant to support further studies into the use of ‘waste cold’ from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to provide sustainable power and cooling.

And, in February, Dearman also secured almost £850,000 from Innovate UK to develop a zero-emission auxiliary engine to reduce carbon emissions from refrigerated trucks and air-conditioned buses in partnership with the University of Birmingham and Hubbard Products (see story).

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