Vancouver firm could turn industrial refrigeration on its head

Ice Cube - Sean Freese

By JONNY WAKEFIELD

July 17, 2014

A Vancouver-based clean tech company believes its new software system could spark an energy efficiency revolution in the refrigerated transportation sector.

Smartcool Systems Inc. recently completed testing of its ECO3 system  described as an "intelligent link" that can be grafted onto existing diesel refrigeration systems. According to the company, ECO3 improves communication between the fuel injectors, compressors and thermostats that make up a diesel cooling system. During the first phase of testing, ECO3 yielded a fuel efficiency increase of around 18 per cent over regular diesel refrigerators. 

For another round of testing, Smartcool has partnered with a Florida-based food distribution firm. The firm, which chose to remain anonymous, wants to see how much more efficiently Smartcool's technology can refrigerate 35,000 pounds of frozen turkey. A successful trial could secure Smartcool a contract to install ECO3 systems on the company's fleet of 115 refrigerated trailers.  

If Smartcool’s technology is successful, the resulting double-digit increase in energy efficiency could turn the entire refrigerated shipping industry on its head.

Smartcool's key market is Europe, where the refrigerated shipping industry is valued at $7.2 bn CAD per year. Diesel in Europe costs double what it does in North America, so the incentive to deploy new technology is even stronger. Further, the European Commission (EC) has offered a number of financial incentives  for firms to improve industrial refrigeration efficiency. 

"In order to meet demand, many refrigerated vehicles will have to be replaced or upgraded," the EC notes in a release. "Furthermore, in a globally competitive market, operational efficiencies must be made."

George Burnes, President and CEO of Smartcool, said his firm is poised to make major inroads in the crucial European market. 

"Europe has proven to be our largest market, thanks to the acceleration of legislation and government support for energy efficiency across the continent," he told Cantech Letter in 2011.  That same year, Smartcool acquired Smartcool Systems UK Ltd., which he described as "one of the most successful and well-established of the independent distributors of Smartcool technology."

Smartcool believes the industrial refrigeration industry is poised for an efficiency leap like those seen in the lighting and residential refrigeration sectors. According to EU estimates, new systems like the ECO3 could save 8,000 litres of fuel per refrigeration unit per year. With over 650,000 refrigerated vehicles operating in Europe, the opportunity for Smartcool to export Canadian clean technology is huge.



Photo Credit: Sean Freese