UK Retailer Testing LN2 Engine in Its Refrigerated Delivery Trucks

Sainsbury’s, a major UK based retailer, has become the first company in the world to introduce a refrigerated delivery truck cooled by a liquid nitrogen powered engine. The company says the engine is expected to eliminate all emissions associated with refrigeration. It will undergo a three-month trial during which time it’s anticipated to save some 1.6 tons of carbon dioxide, 37kg of nitrogen oxides and 2kg of particulate matter compared to a similar sized diesel system.

“As one of Britain’s biggest retailers we really recognize the importance of reducing emissions, which is why we’re working hard to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent between 2005 and 2020,” says Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury’s.

Dearman Technology and its partners designed the zero-emission cooling unit dubbed the Dearman Engine. It is the basis for a suite of zero-emission power and cooling technologies being developed by the company that have applications across transport and the built environment. 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 on Britain’s roads.

“The first commercial deployment of Dearman’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system is a significant milestone for the company, for our technology and for our vision to make the world a cleaner, cooler place,” says Toby Peters, Dearman’s founder and CEO. “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 their 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. 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 fueled by this method. And earlier this year the company introduced R-452A as a cooling agent in its transport and announced that all new fridges would run on this instead of R404A, a more commonly used and less clean agent.

Dearman also designed the new engine with safety in mind. Unlike traditional fuels such as diesel, liquid nitrogen is a non-flammable substance used extensively in industry and food preparation and is transported safely on the UK’s road network. Air Products, one of Dearman’s partners, is providing liquid nitrogen for the test along with a refueling infrastructure.

“The global demand for sustainable performance which improves energy efficiency and emissions whilst addressing social needs is very real,” says John Trembley, cryogenic technology manager at Air Products. “Strong partnerships that enable customers to grow responsibly through environmentally-focussed opportunities are critical; this project is a living example of what can be achieved through creative, expert thinking.”