ITALY: A sorption heat pump (S-HP), based on the adsorption/desorption of a hydrogen gas stream, could provide significant savings over traditional transport refrigeration systems, a new development project has revealed. 

The refrigerated transportation world market is predicted to reach €5bn by 2015. Increasing awareness about food safety, consumer spending on high value perishable goods and replacement of refrigerated vehicles are driving the growth in refrigerated transportation market. Approximately 650,000 refrigerated road vehicles are currently in use within the EU.

Fuel prices are a significant cost for cold transport companies. It is estimated that refrigerated vans and trucks use between 10,000 and 90,000 litres of fuel/year, around 8% of this is due to refrigeration.

The EU-funded HP-ACS project aims to address this through the development of an innovative Metal Hydride Cooling System (MHCS) based on hydrogen adsorption/desorption on solid beds. The system would work by exploiting the waste heat generated by the thermal engine.

Using this technology, it is estimated that refrigerated transport companies could save between 800 (2m³ refrigerated vans) – 7.200 (90m³ Rigid Semi-Trailer) litres of fuel per year on average for each vehicle.

Some crucial technological challenges still need to be addressed. The project is looking into developing viable materials for the hydrogen adsorption beds, which must be tailored for the specific application. The heat-pump design also needs to be optimised, while the weight and volume of the material has to be minimised.

Once these key points have been achieved and validated, the HP-ACS project will be well on its way to developing a new way of competitively cooling refrigerated vans. The 24-month project, which began in April, has received €960,000 in EU funding. For more information, please visit:


Project factsheet