Thermo King’s Electrifying Showcase

Thermo King’s Electrifying Showcase

At Solutrans in November 2023, Thermo King presented electric alternatives to traditional transport refrigeration solutions, showcasing the power of innovation to transform industries.

It also displayed its unwavering commitment to a clean, quiet, and high-performance cold chain at the tradeshow in Lyon, France. “When we introduced our all-electric portfolio branded ‘evolve’ in 2021, we pledged to lead the electrification and decarbonisation efforts of our industry,” said Laurent Debias, product management and marketing leader at Thermo King, which turned that promise into reality at Solutrans.

AxlePower impresses

The company’s transport electrification innovations included a fully electric, emission-free system with AxlePower smart energy generating technology and Advancer-e in the industry-leading Advancer trailer refrigeration portfolio. This fully integrated, tractor independent system combines BPW’s ePower axle with Thermo King refrigeration unit and power management technology.

AxlePower converts and stores energy recovered by the trailer’s axle during the vehicle’s routine operation in a high voltage battery. This energy is then reused to power the refrigeration unit, enabling fully electric, low, or zero emission and autonomous trailer refrigeration.

AxlePower configurations – from hybrid versions with diesel backup engines to engineless, fully electric systems – have been tested by customers in six European countries since late 2022 across a range of applications. Up to 20 consecutive weeks of electric refrigeration were reported without restarting the reefer’s diesel engine or connecting to shore power, successfully transforming transport refrigeration units (TRU) into autonomous self-reliant units. On long-haul routes with overnight stops, TRUs operated fully in electric mode throughout the day, and for 40 to 80% at night, depending on the battery pack configuration.

AxlePower was shown to have only a marginal impact on tractor fuel consumption, while no change was found in trailer and tractor behaviour. Thanks to embedded telematics and two-way communication with all the system’s components, fleet managers were also able to remotely change recuperation mode settings and integrate data into their proprietary telematics platforms.  

E-Series for LCVs

A new, all-electric E-series refrigeration unit for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) was presented for the first time at Solutrans. The most energy-efficient TRU on the market today, the E-500e unit is designed for seamless operations with electric LCVs in urban and inner-city deliveries.

Custom-designed inverter technology, a patented power control system, and real-time communication between unit and vehicle maximise cooling performance, energy efficiency, and optimal power supply with minimal impact on the electric vehicle’s (EV’s) battery and range.

Powered directly by the EV battery, the E-500e removes the need for an extra battery pack or shore connection module. Depending on the vehicle model, drivers can keep the refrigeration unit running while their EV is charging or stationed at a delivery stop. A brand-new, high-speed compressor with independent RPM generates new levels of electric cooling capacity up to 4.5kW, and both cooling and heating modes to fit multiple application needs.

Biodiesel certification

Thermo King also noted that it is busy certifying all trailer SLXi and Advancer units and selected models in the UT and T-Series portfolio of truck units to work with B100 EN 14214 biodiesel. It has also been testing and evaluating the use of B100 FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) biodiesel. B100 biodiesel is compatible with diesel engines, offering a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and up to 80% fewer fine particles. Some units are available from early 2024.

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