Thursday 27th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Asda trials nitrogen fridge units

Asda hopes to replace its transport fleet’s diesel-fuelled fridges with a liquid nitrogen alternative. The ecoFridge, designed by Ukram Industries to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate noise pollution from deliveries, is being trialled in seven lorries at Asda’s Skelmersdale depot.

Asda reckons the system will reduce the overall amount of carbon emitted by its fleet by around 860 tonnes, putting the supermarket on course to hit its target of cutting carbon emissions by 80,000 tonnes by the end of this year.

If the trial is successful, the ecoFridge may be rolled out to its entire fleet of temperature controlled distribution trailers. By switching all of its fleet transport to nitrogen powered refrigeration, Asda estimates it could reduce overall carbon emissions by 70,000 metric tonnes in the next five years.

Nitrogen was initially introduced as an alternative temperature control system about 30 years ago by the British Oxygen Company with its trade-marked Polarstream initiative. But although around 500 trailers were fitted with the system, certain operational drawbacks ended with the method being phased out, and manufacturers lost interest.

A spokesman for ecoFridge said one of the difficulties with Polarstream was that the nitrogen tank had to be refuelled every eight hours –  limiting the range of the vehicles. The ecoFridge’s 1000 litre tank can operate for up to 80 hours before it needs refuelling.

The ecoFridge works by using emission free, liquid nitrogen as the accelerant in the cooling process. In comparison, traditional diesel-fuelled fridges emit high levels of carbon dioxide and hydro fluorocarbons. 

The system’s engineering simplicity means maintenance costs are reduced by some 65 per cent.

Chris Hall, Asda’s network transport manager, said: “This is a major step towards ensuring that our fleet transport reduces costs, cuts carbon emissions and lowers the overall environmental impact of food distribution. It also solves the problem of delivering chilled goods to our stores in residential areas – especially at night, due to the silent running nature of the technology.”

Last year all 1000 lorries used in Asda’s fleet distribution were converted to run on a bio-diesel mix reducing carbon tail pipe emissions by three per cent.
The supermarket has also sought planning permission to install five two mega watt wind turbines, which it plans to have fully operational by the end of next year.