Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fridge industry counters ‘dirty diesel’ allegations

A leading figure in the refrigerated transport equipment industry has hit back at allegations that diesel-powered reefers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of urban NOx emissions (Transport Operator, April).

Stephen Williams (pictured) is UK sales manager for Thermo King, and points out that, while fridge power units do not conform to Euro 6 truck emissions laws, they do meet standards imposed worldwide on plant and machinery.

“There is an atmosphere in which ‘dirty diesels’ are being demonised, and we need to work together with operators and regulators to find a sustainable solution,” he told Transport Operator at the Commercial Vehicle Show last month.

“The engines we use qualify as ‘off-road plant’ in terms of emissions legislation and we conform to worldwide standards including the Stage V EC legislation due to come into force in 2020, and the very tough Californian standards for off-highway machinery. As we did with the tough rules concerning refrigerant gases, we make changes well ahead of legislation…

“Yanmar, our engine supplier, was made to change from mechanical direct injection to electronic injection to meet American demands that it conform to automotive standards. If legislators want us to go for SCR aftertreatment, then obviously vehicle design will need changing to accommodate the extra exhaust equipment.”

He continued: “We also offer non-diesel power solutions. We offer a full portfolio of diesel, electric and hybrid, and bear in mind that we have to offer equipment that will suit everything from car-derived vans to 51-ft American trailers, and they have to work in ambient temperatures that range from – 40 C in Norway to + 40 C in Dubai.

“Thermo King is a global player and our parent company, Ingersoll Rand, is committed to dealing with environmental issues. It purchased the electrical refrigeration specialist Frigoblock in 2015 because this gave it access to a refrigeration solution that could be powered by an alternator driven by the host vehicle’s engine. It also gave the Frigoblock product a more global reach.”

At the CV Show, Thermo King promoted a hybrid unit that allows a refrigerated semi-trailer, attached to a tractor with a Frigoblock Enviro Drive inverter filter, to run electrically.  This enables the trailer refrigeration unit to be powered as a hybrid drive, by either the electric alternator or through its own independent diesel engine.

It incorporates a TK BlueBox telematics system to store data and provide two-way communication to ensure that the load is protected at all times. A geolocation feature will automatically switch the power between diesel and truck Enviro Drive as required: for instance, when a truck enters a low emissions zone.

Mr Williams also pointed out that diesel emissions could be much reduced by operators fine-tuning their units to suit particular applications.

“If you are carrying pharmaceuticals, then, yes, you do need fine-temperature controls, and that will mean the power unit running quite frequently. But other cargoes are less demanding, and the fridge unit could be set up to run more economically.

“Our units have telematics systems now, and we know that at least 90 per cent of the units in service are just left on ‘factory’ settings. Many of them could be optimised to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

“We can all add in efficiencies: a diesel engine is greener than anything when it’s not running.

“As a manufacturer, we follow or anticipate legislation but we want a shared and honest debate to reach a sustainable solution. There is a danger of people overstating the use of diesel and assuming that us manufacturers are not addressing the concern – but we are.

“We need now to take the debate out of newspaper headlines and understand where we are and where we need to be in terms of emissions and air quality.”

Carrier Transicold also launched a truck engine-driven system at the CV Show. The Iceland multi-temperature refrigeration unit is driven by the truck’s engine via a Carrier Eco-Drive system and has a cooling capacity of up to 18,400 watts, making it suitable for drawbar as well as rigid applications.

It has twin refrigeration circuits to minimise parasitic loss in dual-temperature applications, and can even heat one compartment and cool another simultaneously. The United Technologies subsidiary has also upgraded its Foretrack telematics system.

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