Refrigeration, Trucks

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Fridge Unit

hydrogen fuel cell fridge uni

Carrier Transicold unveiled its first trailer concept powered by a dedicated hydrogen fuel cell fridge unit at last year’s IAA Transportation exhibition in Hanover, Germany. 

It is not just the truck power plant that needs to move towards zero carbon emissions. The same should apply to diesel-powered truck accessories. The introduction of a hydrogen powered refrigeration unit demonstrates a commitment by Carrier Transicold to electric and sustainable temperature-controlled transport solutions.

The fuel cell system was specifically developed to integrate within the chassis of Carrier’s Vector transport refrigeration unit. The system is said to deliver zero direct emissions without a reduction in performance or refrigeration capacity. 

Developed in close cooperation with Bosch and PowerCell Sweden, the new hydrogen fuel cell technology will be coupled with Carrier Transicold’s Vector HE 19 trailer unit. Central to the new system is the integration of the Bosch 48-volt automotive battery, which directly interfaces the fuel cell with the refrigeration unit, removing the need for a standalone engine or a separately mounted buffer battery system. 

hydrogen fuel cell fridge uni

“Carrier Transicold continues its electrification journey, providing an electric solution in every area of the temperature-controlled transport market, from vans through to multi-temperature trailers,” said Victor Calvo, Vice President and General Manager, Carrier Transicold. “The new hydrogen-powered Vector concept is a major step forward for the company and we’re delighted to demonstrate the future of transport refrigeration for customers. We are committed to exploring every avenue to reduce emissions and deliver better sustainability for customers, and hydrogen fuel cell technology is extremely exciting.” 

The hydrogen fuel cell technology delivers the same level of autonomy as existing diesel engines used in the standard Vector units. By using a hydrogen fuel cell system, customers can maintain operations with the legacy products, but without any of the associated emissions. 

The new fuel cell system is powered by hydrogen tanks coupled with an electric power distribution unit (PDU). The PDU is used to convert the direct current provided by the fuel cell into the alternating current needed to operate the refrigeration unit. The refuelling time for the new concept is equivalent to a standard diesel engine and, depending on the tank size, can also achieve a similar autonomy range. 

E-Drive’s innovative design

The combination with the Vector’s existing all-electric E-Drive technology, a mainstay of the company’s trailer systems since 1999, eliminates the need for the mechanical transmissions found in belt-driven truck and trailer refrigeration systems, making it ideally suited to operate on the electric power derived from the hydrogen cell, while delivering increased efficiency and reduced risk of refrigerant leaks.

Launched in 2020, a first demonstrator version was presented in 2021 by Carrier and Bosch with the hydrogen fuel cell system placed in a frame under the trailer chassis. The advanced version presented in 2022 at IAA goes one step further and integrates the hydrogen fuel cell within the standard Vector chassis. 

Fuel Cell Fridge on the Road

When the ‘FresH2’ fuel cell project moved to its first road test phase, it hit the road in France. The hydrogen fuel-cell powered refrigeration unit, Vector HE 19, from Carrier was fitted to a semi-trailer manufactured by Lamberet. 

The development of this solution has been carried out at the Bosch site in Rodez, France, and it went into service with the European specialist in temperature-controlled food transport operation, STEF, in September 2021. 

FresH2 comprises a fuel cell powered by hydrogen tanks, to which an electronic unit is added, enabling it to convert the direct current provided by the cell into the alternating current needed to operate the refrigeration unit.

“The FresH2 project perfectly illustrates our passion for innovation and reflects our commitment to a sustainable cold chain, particularly through the electrification of our product lines,” said Jean-Pascal Vielfaure, Managing Director France and Southern Europe, Carrier Transicold. “With the FresH2 project, we are pleased to contribute to the energy transition and participate in developing a hydrogen-powered solution of the future for semi-trailers. Thank you to all of our partners for their commitment and trust.”


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