$500,000 Study Tests Fuel Cells for Transport Refrigeration

Nov. 14, 2013
Fuel cells will replace diesel generators to power transport refrigeration units on trailers hauling perishables.

Plug Power Inc. received a $500,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to demonstrate the viability of replacing diesel generators with hydrogen fuel cells for powering transport refrigeration units (TRUs) on trailers hauled by trucks that deliver perishable goods.  

Plug Power will develop the fuel cell and the hardware connecting it to refrigeration unit equipment. The TRU fuel cell (based on the company’s GenDrive fuel cell architecture) will power a Carrier Transicold refrigeration unit for the Sysco Corp. distribution center in Long Island, NY, for 12 months. Hydrogen will be supplied by Air Products

The parties involved hope that the successful completion of this trial will open the door to hydrogen fuel cell expansion into the refrigerated transport market to regulate cold temperatures for fresh and frozen foods, such as produce, dairy products, meats, ice cream and other items while enroute to grocery warehouses, distribution centers and retail destinations. 

Most of the 300,000 TRUs in operation across the U.S. today are powered by diesel. Plug Power states that in the course of one day, a typical TRU can consume about 10 gallons of diesel and emit 101 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). In contrast, hydrogen fuel cells have zero CO2 emissions, and release only heat and water.

 “The NYSERDA opportunity is crucial to Plug Power, as we move forward with development of fuel cell solutions for TRU deployments,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “Along with a similar, recently announced TRU project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, this contract enables us to execute on our strategy to implement hydrogen fuel cells in markets adjacent to the material transport industry.”

Plug Power recently announced it had also won a $650,000 contract from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories via the Dept. of Energy to develop fuel cells for the TRU market.

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