FIRST SOLAR REFRIGERATION
Sainsbury's Foods is harnessing the power of the sun to help fresh fruit and vegetables keep cool en route to its stores.
The food retailer has formed a partnership with academia and business to develop what is believed to be the world's first solar powered refrigeration unit installed on a working articulated vehicle.
The trailer is already carrying fresh fruit and vegetables from Sainsbury's distribution depot in Charlton, South East London to stores in London, Kent and Sussex.
Ample power for the refrigeration unit is generated by photovoltaic panels mounted on the trailer's roof. An on-board battery stores the excess power for use by the refrigeration system during the hours of darkness.
Most transport refrigeration equipment is powered by diesel engines. These have high energy demands and maintenance costs, as well as environmental impacts both in terms of emissions, which contribute to the greenhouse effect, and noise.
The development team has already demonstrated that the solar powered refrigeration unit uses considerably less energy and produces less noise pollution. Emissions associated with diesel exhausts are totally eliminated.
The refrigeration system is capable of operating at temperatures down to +3 degrees Celsius. In this demonstration project, all aspects of the photovoltaic and refrigeration system operations are being monitored 24 hours a day. Data is transmitted remotely to Sainsbury's and the Sustainable Energy Research Group at Southampton University.
"We are currently evaluating the data from the project, confirming that the refrigeration system is performing to the design specifications, and monitoring the total available solar energy resources and demand by the system" said Dr AbuBakr S Bahaj, of the Sustainable Energy Research Group, Southampton University.
Written by: Sainsbury's Foods
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