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Keeping cool while going green

What do chicken dinners, salmon, and filet mignon have in common? They could all be found in a pollution-slashing hybrid diesel electric trailer refrigeration unit like the one showcased by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently.

The technology allows refrigerated trucks and trailers to remain icy cold while switching from diesel power to electric power during loading and unloading, reducing diesel emissions to zero. The technology also puts a lid on fuel costs and noise. EPA's Regional Administrator Alan J Steinberg appeared with representatives from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and companies that make the technology to observe a low-polluting truck that delivered goods to a Holland America Lines cruise ship at the New York City Economic Development Corp's facility.

Paving the way for cleaner and energy-efficient alternatives in the trucking industry, Shurepower LLC, Great Dane Trailers, Carrier Transicold, Maines Paper and Food Service Inc, and New West Technologies used money provided by EPA and NYSERDA to help fund the demonstration pilot project. The original pilot project, located in a Maines Paper & Food Service distribution facility in Conklin NY, involved setting up and operating electrified loading docks and parking spaces for commercial heavy-duty diesel trucks and refrigerated trailers to power the refrigeration. The project was part of a nationwide effort to reduce pollution from truck fleets known as EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership.

Peter R Smith, NYSERDA president and chief executive officer, said that since 2000, New York state has committed $2.55 million in cooperation with EPA and the Department of Energy in pursuing technologies to displace the nation's petroleum use that goes to transportation.

Trailer refrigeration units are the standard for preserving and cooling goods during transport and delivery. The demonstration project featured eTRU, also known as hybrid diesel electric trailer refrigeration unit. eTRU technology enables an electric-powered source of energy from a loading dock or parking space to keep the truck's load or trailer compartments at a specific temperature without having to run the engine. The technology works by installing an electric device on a loading dock or parking space and equipping a diesel truck or refrigerated trailer with special components that connect the diesel engine to the electric power grid. Once plugged in, the diesel engine can be totally shut down, producing zero diesel emissions.

The Carrier Transicold Vector 1800 MT multi-temperature trailer refrigeration system features hybrid diesel-electric technology that enables shippers to effectively regulate the temperature of multiple compartments within the trailer. It combines a diesel engine with an electrical generator to reduce air pollution and sound levels, eliminate many components and maintenance items, and increase reliability and performance.

Shurepower's electrified truck parking system is a low-cost alternative to idling that provides drivers with grid-base electricity. Maines Paper & Food Service was a key partner in developing the project at its distribution center in Conklin. New West Technologies provided engineering expertise.

EPA recognizes that various technologies, strategies, and behaviors can effectively reduce long-duration idling while providing the truck driver with essential needs such as heat or air-conditioning. Truckstop electrification allows the electrical grid to supply power to truck on-board components or stationary components for heating, cooling and other needs.

Extended idling has a significant impact upon air quality. On a national scale, extended truck idling contributes 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, 200,000 tons of oxides of nitrogen, and 5,000 tons of particulate matter annually. Additionally, idling long-haul trucks consume more than one billion gallons of fuel, costing $2 billion-plus annually.

The SmartWay Transport Partnership is a program developed by EPA and the freight industry to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution, and to promote cleaner, more efficient ground freight transportation. The partnership provides companies with technical assistance, tools for evaluating opportunities, and help locating financing to purchase these technologies.

For more information about the SmartWay partnership, visit

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