EV Engineering News

United Natural Foods to deploy 53 electric refrigerated trailers with PV panels and Li-ion batteries

Food wholesaler United Natural Foods (UNFI) plans to add 53 all-electric refrigerated trailer units (TRUs) to its fleet based at the company’s Riverside, California distribution center. The all-electric TRU achieves zero emissions by using a high-efficiency refrigeration system powered by roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels, a “wheel-momentum generator,” lithium-ion batteries, and an auxiliary power unit that eliminates the requirement for a diesel generator to power the refrigeration system.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) plans to impose zero-emission requirements on TRUs sold or operated in California by the end of 2029.

Advanced Energy Machines, a specialist in the electrification of refrigerated trailers, will rebuild UNFI’s units to all-electric specifications. UNFI will lease the TRUs through PLM Trailer Leasing for five years. To help reduce the cost of retrofitting the diesel-powered TRUs, PLM received vouchers on UNFI’s behalf through CARB’s Clean Off Road Equipment (CORE) Voucher Incentive Project. CARB launched CORE in 2017 to accelerate the purchase of zero-emission freight handling equipment in California by offsetting the technology’s higher up-front cost.

UNFI anticipates that the all-electric TRUs will save approximately 135,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, while reducing particulate matter pollutant emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Nearly 50 percent of UNFI’s direct greenhouse gas emissions are from our fleet of trucks and trailers. These 53 all-electric TRUs will help us get a head start on the proposed CARB zero-emission requirements,” said Jeff Wismans, National Director of Fleet Operations at UNFI. “Adding these TRUs comes after an exhaustive four-month pilot, testing the equipment through a variety of conditions. When we look at it from an operational standpoint, we’re not changing anything, but it gives us a fresh look at running our operations and finding additional efficiencies.”

Source: United Natural Foods

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