Cenex begins development of new electric refrigeration unit with Sunswap

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Cenex and Sunswap will work together to develop a new type of refrigeration unit that is powered by batteries and solar panels.

Funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, the two companies will develop a new electrical architecture for a solar and battery powered Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) that lowers emissions and meets real customer operational requirements.

The majority of TRUs, which rely on a secondary diesel engine to provide power for cooling, account for up to 95% of all PM emissions and 40% of NOx emissions from a modern Euro VI refrigerated truck and the cost of operating TRUs in the UK will increase by 70% from 2022 with the removal of the red diesel subsidy.

Victor Lejona, technical specialist at Cenex, said: “Refrigerated transport is a sector that accounts for high carbon and pollutant levels, with immediate research required in the field to bring zero emission solutions to fruition.”

Cenex will form a Customers Requirements Group (CRG) to understand the needs and operational patterns of refrigerated transport operators, such as variations in grid capacity, fleet downtime and charging speeds.

The CRG will comprise supermarkets and logistics operators such as Aldi, Howard Tenens, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Wincanton, as well as refrigerated vehicle leasing provider Petit Forestier and the Cold Chain Federation industry body.

Graham Thomas, fleet operations manager - Truck at Ocado Group, said: “We have taken huge strides in reducing harmful emissions from our tractor fleet and we are equally committed to making the same inroads in cleaning up our transport refrigeration.”

A refrigerated fleet techno-economic model and report on the environmental benefits of the solution will be produced by Cenex, and the results will inform Sunswap's development to refine the design of a TRU electrical system that provides a solution with an attractive business case and zero emissions.

Andrew Sucis, chief operating officer at Sunswap, added: “This collaboration will ensure that our next-generation transport refrigeration unit meets every industry need.”

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