LONDON: As the VW scandal forces 11 million diesel-powered auto recalls worldwide, a new report says a million diesel-powered transport refrigeration units (TRU) in the EU will emit 13 million tonnes of CO2e, 40,000 tonnes of NOx, and 5,000 tonnes of particulate matter this year – equivalent to the emissions from 56 million diesel cars.
The first-of-its-kind study, produced by technology company Dearman, says diesel TRU on trucks can emit up to 29 times more potentially carcinogenic particulate matter and six times more NOx than far larger, modern diesel truck engines, and up to 165 times as much particulate matter and 93 times as much NOx as the latest diesel car powertrains.
Dearman points out that in the EU, where a seamless cold chain stretches from the farm gate to the consumer's plate, and also ensures the safety of many medicines, these supply chains continue to rely on "highly polluting" TRU.
Professor Toby Peters, chair in Power and Cold Economy, University of Birmingham and CEO of Dearman, says: "Until now, nobody has given transport refrigeration units a thought. We all shop at food stores, eat in restaurants or have chilled and frozen food delivered, but the impact of transport refrigeration units has never been investigated, let alone addressed. They are unregulated, use outdated, fossil fuelled technology and are disproportionately polluting. What's worse, their pollution is concentrated on city streets where it does the most damage to our health.
"With 400,000 people dying prematurely every year in the EU as a result of air pollution, we simply cannot afford to ignore these hidden polluters any longer. Awareness is growing and the policy landscape is just beginning to change, but action is needed now to prevent further environmental damage."
Based on a conservative projection that reefer truck fleets will grow 1.5 percent a year to 1.2 million by 2025, the Dearman research suggests pollution from their diesel powered reefer units could cost EU countries €22 billion over the next decade.
The new report calculates that by switching to zero-emission refrigeration, €1.9 billion would be saved per year by 2025 in reduced damage to the environment and health, in addition to any direct financial savings to fleet owners.
Dearman says it is developing a zero-emission transport refrigeration system to replace current TRU without creating "significant environmental consequences" or burdening operators with additional costs. The system, based on the Dearman engine that harnesses the rapid expansion of liquid air (or liquid nitrogen) to produce zero-emission power, will enter commercial trials later this year and begin multi-country trials in 2016.