Ahead of the red diesel rebate changes scheduled for April 2022, Spalding-based Freshlinc is testing an Ecogen system as part of its ongoing campaign to reduce diesel emissions and running costs for its temperature-controlled vehicle fleet.
Manufactured in the UK by Hultsteins and designed for use with truck or tractor units, Ecogen is a slim-fit hydraulic drive generator which connects to the engine’s PTO (power take off) and plugs in to any refrigeration unit with mains electric operation.
Fuel consumption and emissions from the diesel refrigeration unit are said to be virtually eliminated, while the system generates a constant 400-volt, 3-phase electrical power to the same standard as the mains supply.
“We knew we had to come up with a more cost-effective solution for when the rebate on gas oil is withdrawn” explains FreshLinc’s Fleet Engineer Andy Marchant. “Plus, as part of our ongoing policy towards environmental protection, we are keen to see how much the system can cut the level of pollution associated with conventional diesel fridge engines.”
To this end, Hultsteins calculates that an average fridge system consuming around 3-5 litres of diesel per hour and running for 2,500 hours per annum will produce approximately 26,000 kgs of carbon per year and with an expected price hike of around 46 pence per litre for red diesel, this also amounts to an additional annual cost of around £5,700 per fridge trailer.
“These figures simply cannot be ignored.” Says Graham Usher, MD of Eco Truck Fridge and Hultsteins sales agent in the UK. “Not only from an environmental standpoint but also commercially – Ecogen can help temperature-controlled operators mitigate the potential impact of running a conventional fridge system.”
Although fitted to one of FreshLinc’s Scanias, Ecogen can be retrofitted easily to any truck with an engine drive PTO. Also, rather than intending to replace the existing refrigeration system, Ecogen works in tandem with the fridge unit to provide a cheaper and less harmful power source while significantly extending the life of the fridge.
“We operate around 400 vehicles and 1,000 trailers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, delivering temperature-sensitive products around the clock” continues Andy, “and as leaders in temperature-controlled supply chain management, we continually look for sustainable solutions and this one potentially fits our operating model.”
Andy goes on to explain that the initial 3-month test will predominantly be for chilled deliveries to the retail sector and the system will also be compared to their container fleet, which uses underslung Gensets to power the fridge.
“During the lock-down period, we organised numerous ‘Zoom’ meetings with Graham Usher and our Operations Director Lee Juniper and apart from anything else, Hultsteins’ ‘can do’ attitude towards problem-solving encouraged us to trial the system. They say ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’, so naturally we are keen to see how our vehicles’ MPG and fridge units’ fuel consumption are affected over the coming weeks.”
Hultsteins, based in Sweden, has been designing and producing hydraulic and electric-drive transport refrigeration systems for nearly 60 years and, says the company, as the environmentally damaging effects of diesel consumption become widely visible, retailers and transport operators are increasingly benefiting from the sustainable attributes of Ecogen.