Unilever trials ‘clean and cold’ transport system

Consumer products giant Unilever has carried out a successful six-month trial of Dearman’s zero emission transport refrigeration unit in the Netherlands.

London-based Dearman has developed a zero-emission transport refrigeration system, which replaces diesel with liquid nitrogen in refrigeration trailers and trucks, as well as other potential power and cooling applications.

Unilever trialled the liquid nitrogen TRU in the Netherlands between July and December 2017

Unilever’s trial involved deploying a liquid nitrogen-powered Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) for the delivery of the Ben & Jerry’s and Ola ice cream brands. Over 26 weeks from June to December 2017, the trailer spent 661 hours on the road and travelled more than 18,000 km.

According to Dearman, the TRU helped to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 600kg per month compared to a conventional diesel system. It also eliminated all nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions, helping to have a significant positive impact upon local air quality.

During the trial it was possible to demonstrate the operational benefits of the TRU, Dearman said, which offers rapid cool down rates that significantly exceed the standards set by diesel systems. It also had a ‘positive impact’ upon noise, achieving levels below accepted PIEK standards of 60dB(A).

Innovation

Commenting, chief executive of Dearman, Scott Mac Meekin, said: “We are delighted that a major global player like Unilever took on a Dearman transport refrigeration unit and saw real benefit to its operations. Both Unilever and Dearman have a shared ambition to tackle environmental impacts through innovation.

“This trial has taken us a big step forward on that journey as we have been able to demonstrate that Dearman technology is able to provide environmental and societal benefits alongside operational improvements while remaining cost competitive.”

Raghuraman Ramakrishnan, Unilever’s Vice President for Logistics Europe, added: “By opening up our logistics network to Dearman’s innovation, and collaborating in this way, we have provided our partner with a great opportunity to test a revolutionary product under real life conditions.

“Reducing the environmental impact of our logistics network is an integral part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and our goal is to make sure that our transport and distribution systems are as green as possible. We are committed to advancing sustainable solutions in logistics and leveraging new technologies once they become commercially available, in order to achieve this.”

The development of the Dearman engine has been backed by over £6 million of grants from the UK government. Following a successful trial with a major British supermarket chain, commercial roll-out of the Dearman TRU is expected in the UK this year, the company says.

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