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Cool technology with a conscience

UK Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has become the first company in the world to introduce a refrigerated delivery truck cooled by a liquid nitrogen powered engine, which the company says will eliminate all emissions associated with refrigeration.

Supplied by cooling technology specialists Dearman, the zero-emission cooling unit replaces the traditional diesel engine used to chill the vehicle and will significantly cut emissions.

During the three-month trial the vehicle will save up to 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of driving more than 14,500km in a modern family car. The trial will also save 37kg of nitrogen oxides and 2kg of particulate matter, compared to a similar diesel system. The truck will deliver chilled goods to stores in the London area.

Based on the revolutionary British invention, the Dearman Engine, the new system harnesses the rapid expansion of liquid nitrogen to deliver zero-emission power and cooling. Traditionally many refrigerated trucks require two diesel engines, one to power the vehicle and one for the refrigeration unit. By replacing the latter, Dearman believes that a more sustainable solution for refrigeration may soon be widely adopted.

"As one of Britain’s biggest retailers we recognise the importance of reducing emissions, which is why we’re working hard to cut carbon emissions by 30% between 2005 and 2020," says Paul Crewe, head of sustainability for Sainsbury’s. "This trial with Dearman is just one of the innovations we’ve introduced to help us towards this goal. Their zero-emission system is exciting: to be running a liquid air engine literally means our cooling is running on thin air."

Dearman’s founder and CEO Toby Peters said: "Sainsbury’s is demonstrating real leadership by embracing cutting-edge British engineering that delivers performance alongside positive environmental impact. The first commercial deployment of Dearman’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system is a milestone for the company, for our technology and for our vision to make the world a cleaner, cooler place.

"Demand for cooling is increasing worldwide and new technologies are urgently needed to ensure that growth can be achieved sustainably. The Dearman system is one such technology, and alongside our partners, we’re proud to be debuting it with Sainsbury’s, a company renowned for its respect for the environment."

The trial is the latest in a series of innovations from Sainsbury’s as the retailer works towards its commitment to reduce absolute carbon emissions. Following a trial in 2013, it became the first company in the world to use CO2 as a natural refrigerant and has now taken on three trucks with cooling fuelled by this method. Furthermore, earlier this year the company introduced R-452A as a cooling agent in its transport and announced that all new delivery fridges would run on this. R-452A is recognised as a cleaner cooling agent and is expected to help reduce emissions by 45% compared to the R404A commonly used.

Assessment of the success of the trial will be considered, along with operational cost on any potential for roll-out of the technology.

In addition, the new engine has been designed with safety in mind. Unlike traditional fuels such as diesel, liquid nitrogen is a nonflammable substance, which is used extensively in industry and food preparation and is transported safely on the road network.

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