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Hydrogen fuel cell refrigerated trailer begins road testing

FRANCE: A transport refrigeration unit based on a hydrogen fuel cell has now commenced road testing in France.

The FresH2 fuel cell project launched by Bosch is powering a Carrier Vector HE 19 transport refrigeration unit installed on a semi-trailer from the specialised French refrigerated vehicle bodybuilder, Lamberet. 

The development of this zero-emission solution is financed by Bosch and carried out at the Bosch site in Rodez, France. The road testing is being monitored by transport and logistics specialist, STEF.

FresH2 is described as a clean and quiet solution designed to deliver electricity required by refrigeration units installed on temperature-controlled road transport semi-trailers. 

The hydrogen fuel cell technology offers a viable alternative to replace the diesel engine usually used in refrigerated transport, which is a source of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions. As for the hydrogen cell, it does not release any emissions or noise.

FresH2 consists of a fuel cell powered by hydrogen tanks, to which an electronic unit is added, enabling it to convert the direct current provided by the cell into the alternating current needed to operate the refrigeration unit. The innovation lies in the direct interfacing of the fuel cell with the refrigeration unit, without the use of an on-board buffer battery system.

The system will be tested this month under actual usage conditions by STEF Chambéry site teams in France, as part of a round of food product distribution. 

Once it has passed all certifications required for road licensing, the system will be tested to evaluate efficiency and to identify any areas of improvement for the future industrialised version. 

Bosch’s ultimate goal with this innovation is to produce a competitive, turnkey solution at the Rodez factory that can be integrated into any type of refrigerated semi-trailer, whether new or used, thereby contributing on a large scale to the climate neutrality target set for the transport sector in the Paris Agreement.

The FresH2 system, which is the size of a pallet rack, is located in the wheelbase of the semi-trailer. According to Lamberet, its integration in no way alters the appearance, usable volume, or overall height of the refrigerated semi-trailer. It is also said to adapt equally well to both new and existing semi-trailers.

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