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European transport refrigeration emits‘165 times more particulates than latest diesel cars’, study claims

Report by cryogenic cooling specialist Dearman reveals one million refrigerated trucks and vans on Europe’s roads pollute as much as 56 million diesel cars

Analysis undertaken by cryogenic cooling technology specialist Dearman has found that the 1 million-strong European transport refrigeration fleet has an impact on air pollution equivalent to up to 56 million diesel cars.

The cooling in trucks and vans delivering chilled and frozen goods to restaurants, supermarkets, warehouses, homes and hospitals is often powered by an unregulated secondary diesel engine, which is inefficient and disproportionately polluting, the firm said today launching the report ‘Liquid Air on the European Highway’.

Dearman, which won Refrigeration Innovation of the Year at last week’s Cooling Industry Awards for its technology, which produces zero emission cooling and power (pictured) said conventional transport refrigeration units can emit up to 29 times more potentially carcinogenic particulate matter and six times more NOxthan far larger, modern diesel truck engines. This equates to up to 165 times as much particulate matter and 93 times as much NOxas the latest diesel cars.

Professor Toby Peters, CEO of Dearman and Chair in Power and Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham, said: “Until now, nobody has given transport refrigeration units a thought…the impact of transport refrigeration units has never been investigated, let alone addressed. They are unregulated, use out-­dated, fossil fuelled technology and are disproportionately polluting. What’s worse, their pollution is concentrated on city streets where it does the most damage to our health.”

The research also finds that pollution from transport refrigeration units could cost EU countries 22 billion euros over the next decade, as the EU fleet grows by 20 per cent to 1.2 million by 2025. If nothing is done, the environmental and health impact of emissions will impose an annual burden of 2.5 billion euros by 2025. This year alone, the cooling of refrigerated vehicles in the EU will emit 13m tonnes of CO2e;; 40,000 tonnes of NOx;; and 5,000 tonnes of particulate matter – equivalent to the emissions from 56 million diesel cars. The report projections are based on a conservative assumption that the refrigerated vehicle fleet will grow by 1.5 per cent per year. However, other studies have predicted that annual cold chain market growth could be as much as 12 per cent year on year.

Prof Peters added: “With 400,000 people dying prematurely every year in the EU as a result of air pollution, we simply cannot afford to ignore these hidden polluters any longer. Awareness is growing and the policy landscape is just beginning to change, but action is needed now to prevent further environmental damage.”

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