Research by the University of Nottingham is set to help shape the design of hydrogen-powered refrigerated vehicles as part of a £1 million project.
Academics from Nottingham University Business School have worked with key operators in the UK food transport industry to identify barriers to using hydrogen technology in the food cold chain.
The research is part of a project to develop dual-use energy storage technology, capable of delivering hydrogen to a fuel cell to power a vehicle and simultaneously generate cooling for refrigeration.
The research saw the academics interview fresh and frozen food logistic companies, supermarkets, and food manufacturers to gain perspectives from drivers, logistics, transport, and fleet managers, as well as CEOs.
When it comes to technical challenges, one that was highlighted through the research was mileage and refuelling time. The research found that the industry is accustomed to making 600-mile journeys fuelled by diesel before needing to refuel. The industry would consider an initial mileage of 300 miles for hydrogen-fuelled vehicles to phase into the market, expecting it to progress to 600 miles in the longer term.
In addition, the industry currently can refuel diesel tanks in under 10 minutes, so their target refuelling time for hydrogen is 10 to 15 minutes or less.
The system being developed by the university would allow hydrogen power to become a key part of the UK’s sustainable energy future and to help decarbonise the country’s food cold chain.