Buffaload Logistics has committed to fit a diesel-free refrigeration system to all its tractor units, eliminating diesel consumption and harmful emissions from its entire temperature-controlled trailer fleet.
The on-board electric generator, which is a lightweight hydraulically-driven system called Ecogen and manufactured in the UK by Hultsteins, was trialled on a Scania 6×2 and put to work for 230 hours over about 50,000kms. The results showed that not only did the system use no fridge diesel, but also there was no additional consumption from the tractor unit, according to Buffaload.
Developed for truck or tractor units, Ecogen is a slim-fit hydraulic drive generator that connects to the engine’s PTO and simply plugs in to any refrigeration unit with mains electric operation. Fuel consumption and emissions are virtually eliminated while generating a constant 400-volt, 3-phase electrical power to the same standard as the mains supply.
“At first, we couldn’t believe the figures,” said Ross Taylor, Buffaload’s CEO. “But sure enough, the Ecogen, connected to the tractor’s PTO, ran the fridge unit perfectly for around two months and not a drop of diesel was burned. Effectively, we were saving an average of four litres every hour while the fridge was running. Put simply, the system gives us diesel-free and pollution-free refrigeration, while adding literally no cost to the operation – apart of course from the initial outlay.”
Any savings gained from using Ecogen will be ploughed back into other sustainable projects aligned to Buffaload’s carbon-neutral programme, explained Taylor.
Taylor explained that Buffaload had been exploring the market for an electric generator capable of working with any 6×2 tractor unit while powering any TRU, and Hultsteins’ Ecogen was the only solution which ticked all the boxes.
“While other electric generators only work with certain tractors and fridge models, EcoGen is universal, which means it fits easily to every existing 6×2 and powers all leading fridge marques,” said Taylor. “This gives operators unrestricted choice of equipment and makes retrofitting easy too.”
Taylor adds that Buffaload has been looking into being more carbon-efficient for some years. “We realised that an operation of our size can have a major impact on the environment and so we set about creating an integrated low-carbon network. In basic terms this means working with like-minded businesses whose environmental policies are compatible with our own.”
Taylor predicts that once the Ecogen systems are all up and running, Buffaload Logistics will make an annual carbon saving in the region of 400,000kgs. Furthermore, he says that as urban restrictions on polluting vehicles bear down on the transport industry, Buffaload’s refrigerated double-deckers – expected to number 300 by spring of this year – and all refrigerated vehicles using Ecogen will be exempt from scrutiny.
“This is not just about the obvious advantages of reduced running costs, but more to do with our contribution to a healthy UK environment, the air we breathe and global warming in general. Now is the time to make a difference and for our part, Hultsteins and Ecogen are already making an impact.”
Buffaload expects a return on investment of 21 months and the Ecogen system is not expected to add any additional maintenance requirement.
Ecogen was developed Stephen Maile, whose company Cold Connect was acquired by Hultsteins in 2019.