Scientists at the University of Birmingham have teamed up with experts from CRRC Shijiazhuang, a major Chinese railway rolling stock company, to develop the world’s first cold storage road/rail container made of phase change material (PCM).
PCM allows this new type of “refrigerated” truck-to-train container to store and release cold energy more conveniently and efficiently. The material, which requires to be “charged”, can maintain the inside temperatures between 5-1200 C for up to 120 hours.
The new containers are able to preserve more stable temperatures and are thus capable of providing more qualitative products upon delivery, compared to their mechanical counterparts. Moreover, this tech does not require a power supply and its location and temperature can be monitored in real time via mobile devices. Another major advantage is that the storage units can easily be transferred from train to truck and vice versa.
The researchers have already started putting this new technology to the test in the real world. During commercial trials, the containers, which were carrying real products, traveled for 35,000 km of road and 1,000 km of rail across different climate zones.
“We have developed a productive collaboration with CRRC Shijiazhuang and this innovative technology marks the beginning of developing an efficient and economic rail & road fright cold chain. We are proud to contribute to the development of safe and clean low carbon energy technologies in China and beyond, which will ultimately help us to reduce the energy burden on our planet and tackle climate change,” explains professor Yulong Ding, Director of Birmingham Energy Storage Center.