Solar-powered refrigeration trucks will be the future of food transport

XL Fleet, a provider of electrified powertrain solutions for commercial fleet vehicles, is partnering with eNow, a provider of solar and battery power systems, to fit a thousand refrigeration trucks with solar panel roofs in a bid to help cut emissions of the power-intensive vehicles.

Transporting tons of food to local supermarkets is normally done by enormous fleets of diesel fuel-cooled trucks. Idle diesel engines burn about one gallon (about 3.78 liters) of diesel per hour while releasing more than 22 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

According to the details of the new agreement made by XL Fleet, the company will supply battery and power electronics systems for the first 1,000 units of eNow’s new electrified refrigerated trailer solutions. With this method, XL Fleet aims to achieve clean energy and low emission targets of the food transportation process.

eNow’s patented solar systems efficiently capture the sun’s energy with roof-mounted solar modules and then store the energy in auxiliary batteries used to power lift gates, in-cab HVAC, refrigeration, telematics, and other loads such as appliances and lighting. About 50,000 new diesel-powered refrigerated trailers are sold annually in the United States, and XL Fleet will work in partnership with eNow to design and develop the system that will power fully-electric Transport Refrigeration Units (eTRUs) as a replacement for conventional diesel-powered systems.

XL Fleet is developing the high-capacity integrated lithium-ion battery and power electronics technology that will be installed under the floor on the Class 8 trailer, providing approximately 12 hours or more of run time between charges. Solar panels mounted on the roof of the trailer would charge these systems while the refrigeration trucks are parked and are being loaded or unloaded.

The companies say that their eTRUs can be hauled by the traditional internal combustion engine or electrified tractors as a way for fleet managers to immediately and significantly reduce emissions. They expect to deliver initial eTRUs beginning in the first half of 2022 to customers in industries including food, retail, manufacturing, and distribution.

XL Fleet’s mission to help corporations and their fleets lower operating costs while supporting sustainability goals aligns closely with ours,said Jeff Flath, President & CEO at eNow. “This partnership will change the way the transportation industry thinks about energy and refrigerated transportation, as together we will offer the most advanced renewable power systems for reefer trailers, coupled with charging infrastructure, to eliminate a major source of diesel fuel consumption and emissions for fleets.

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