A combination of new technologies could be set to change the way chilled goods are delivered in urban areas if a new trial proves successful.
Thanks to government funding through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and innovation agency Innovate UK, a project led by Lothian-based thermal battery manufacturer Sunamp will trial the use of all-electric refrigerated vehicles in the UK.
Using EVs for temperature controlled deliveries can be challenging, as the battery needs to power both the vehicle and the fridge unit. Either a bigger battery pack is needed, which compromises payload, or range is lost when using a standard-sized battery.
However, Sunamp’s system uses a battery that stores solar energy to regenerate battery power and store heat. Its batteries are already in use domestically, where they can be used to heat hot water tanks and provide heating to homes.
The first EV trial will involve supermarket chain, Iceland, which is being supplied with a Paneltex all-electric truck built on an Isuzu chassis. The truck will be fitted with Sunamp’s cold-storage technology, which operates in a similar way to a household refrigerator, by using stored heat to feed a cooling compressor. The efficiency will be further optimised by using live mapping data from Route Monkey, to help avoid congestion and plan delivery schedules.
Sunamp says its system has a better power to weight ratio and is more efficient than using Lithium-ion batteries, increasing the vehicle’s payload capabilities by reducing the size of the traction battery pack.
This trial builds on Sunamp’s R&D under previous Innovate UK funding of Heat Batteries, for heating and air conditioning in electric cars and buses, which it said showed “huge benefits” in extending the useful range of these EVs at low cost.
Route Monkey’s software will be used to optimise the electric range by looking at factors such as route topography and scheduling deliveries of heavier loads at the beginning of the day. It will also plan the demo vehicle’s deliveries in accordance with Iceland’s two-hour customer time windows.
Andrew Bissell, CEO of Sunamp said, “The partnership’s combined technology has the potential to be a genuine game-changer. If it proves as successful as we expect, it will have far-reaching applications in refrigerated vehicles and beyond.”