Plug Power has received $500,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to evaluate replacing diesel generators with hydrogen fuel cells for powering transport refrigeration units (TRUs) on trailers hauled by trucks that deliver perishable goods.
NYSERDA selected Plug Power to develop a fuel cell and interconnect hardware, which provides connection to refrigeration unit equipment, based on its GenDrive fuel cell architecture. For the one-year demonstration project, the Plug Power TRU fuel cell will power a Carrier Transicold refrigeration unit for the Sysco distribution center in Long Island, NY, for 12 months. Air Products will supply the hydrogen.
Plug Power says the trial’s success will open the door to hydrogen fuel cell expansion into the refrigerated transport market.
Most of the 300,000 TRUs in operation across the US today are powered by diesel, which is expensive and emits particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the course of one day, a typical TRU can consume about 10 gallons of diesel and emit 101 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), Plug Power says.
In contrast, Plug Power hydrogen fuel cells have zero CO2 emissions and release only a small amount of heat and water.
The US Department of Energy in August awarded Plug Power a $650,000 contract to demonstrate the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells to power the refrigeration units in semi-trailer trucks that transport perishable and frozen foods.