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Zero-emissions refrigerated trailers roll out

More companies are introducing zero-emission transport refrigeration units, but diesel-powered development hasn’t stopped yet

Global shipping and logistics company DFDS has announced that it will test a zero-emission transport refrigeration unit (TRU) in early 2022.

The move, which is expected to be followed by orders for more electric TRUs, forms part of the company’s strategy to invest in sustainable technology that can reduce its environmental impact.

Cold chain engineering company Sunswap will supply the TRU, which features batteries, a depot charging system, a variable-speed refrigeration compressor and roof-mounted solar panels.

The absence of a diesel engine means no emissions and lower noise, helping companies comply with increasingly stringent legislation and environmental aims. These advantages, coupled with lower running costs, means all-electric TRUs are of increasing interest and appeal to transport firms. 

Sunswap’s TRU can be monitored and controlled remotely

“DFDS is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050,” said Eddie Green, DFDS’ head of cold chain in the UK and Ireland. “I am confident the deployment with Sunswap will be a success and am looking forward to seeing how their trailer works within our operation.

“We are committed to investing in innovative technologies that support a better climate. If everything goes as planned we are in a position to place an order straight away.” 

Global cold storage specialist NewCold also recently announced that it has commissioned several pure electric TRUs due to its new sustainability strategy. 

The rapidly growing automated cold storage specialist, which has 11 locations on three continents – and offers over 900,000 pallet positions – said that trialling the zero-emission trailers was a “very visible step” towards improving the sustainability of operations.

Electric TRUs will help companies decarbonise the cold chain

Numerous benefits are claimed, including not using 30 litres of diesel per day, per trailer, which is equivalent to 100kg of CO2. Reportedly, in total, electrifying one trailer subsequently has the same pollution reduction effect as the electrification of 141 cars. 

NewCold also says that, on average, each one of its customer trailers will annually distribute 400 loads, totalling 13,400 pallets – and that employing a zero-emission TRU will reduce the carbon footprint of each customer’s supply chain by 20 tonnes.

The trailers for NewCold are being supplied by THT New Cool, based in the Netherlands, which specialises in electric TRUs. 

Its units are equipped with an axle-mounted generator, the captured energy from which is stored in a battery – which can also be charged when the trailer is parked – and then used to power a Vector eCool refrigeration unit.  

THT New Cool also highlights other benefits, such as reduced weight on the rear of the tractor unit, due to the absence of a diesel unit in the cooler unit. And, because there is no fuel tank, there is no chance of diesel theft.

Daikin has unveiled its first own-brand TRU, which is the diesel-powered Exigo

Some 22 THT New Cool trailers were tested between 2014 and 2017, and then 25 more were built in 2019, and the serial production started in late 2020. By mid-2021, the company had delivered its 100th fully electric TRU. 

Efficient diesel options are still coming to market, however; climate specialist Daikin, for example, has unveiled its first Daikin-branded TRU, which is called the Exigo.

The Exigo E1500 is the first in the new range to be revealed, and offers a 15kW single-temperature cooling capacity, advanced telematics and low noise, low-maintenance operation. It also features variable-speed fans and a variable-speed compressor, which reputedly cut its fuel consumption by 20 per cent.

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