About 300,000 refrigerated trucks crisscross America delivering perishable foods to warehouses and grocery stores. Currently, the trucks’ refrigeration units rely on small diesel generators for power, creating pollution and burning up 3 million gallons of fuel daily. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are starting a project that could put an end to this practice. They are monitoring and evaluating a small fleet of trucks that will use fuel cells to power their refrigeration units. The fuel cells take hydrogen and air to produce electricity, along with heat and water as by-products.
The goals are to prove the technology will work in this application and, thereby, increase the production and use of fuel cells. Increasing the number of users should bring down the cost of fuel cells. Each truck will run for at least 400 hr during the project. The trucks are all based at companies that already use fuel-cell-powered forklifts, so there’s a ready source of hydrogen on site.