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Scientists develop PCM for containers

UK: University of Birmingham scientists, working with a leading Chinese railway rolling stock company, have developed what they claim is the world’s first shipping container using phase change materials.

The Birmingham scientists and their counterparts at CRRC Shijiazhuang have developed a “refrigerated” truck-to-train container that is said to be easier and more efficient to operate than conventional equipment.

Once charged, the phase change material (PCM) inside the container can keep the inside temperature between 5-12°C for up to 120 hours, it is claimed. It does not need a power supply during its journey and the container’s location and temperature can be monitored in real time using mobile communication technologies.

Several cold chain logistics companies in China are reported to have expressed interest in the container, which is said to provide a more stable temperature, compared with mechanical units, and hence a higher quality of goods at the destination.

The technology has recently completed commercial trials carrying real goods for 35,000km of road and 1000km of rail transport across different climate zones.

“Energy storage is an area of world-leading expertise at the University of Birmingham and cold chain technologies research is one of the most important topics at our Centre for Energy Storage,” commented Professor Yulong Ding, director of Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage, who led the research at Birmingham.

“We have developed a productive collaboration with CRRC Shijiazhuang and this innovative technology marks the beginning of developing an efficient and economic rail and road freight cold chain.”

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