Thermo King’s e1000 Set to Decarbonize Cold Transport

Thermo King Refrigerated Truck

(Credit: Thermo King)

by | Jul 18, 2023

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Thermo King Refrigerated Truck

(Credit: Thermo King)

Thermo King consistently strives toward making refrigerated transport more efficient, whether through enhancing existing technologies and capabilities such as improving how diesel is used, or offering new technology solutions such as electrified options to help companies get food and other perishable cargo safely to their destination.

That idea of efficiency hasn’t changed for Thermo King as it has developed its evolve portfolio of electric transport refrigeration solutions for trucks, trailers, buses, rail, air, and marine applications. Included in the evolve portfolio is the e1000 all-electric reefer unit, which is the first large-capacity electric transport refrigeration unit (TRU) with no diesel engine offered in North America for Class 5-7 trucks and is being recognized as an Environment+Energy Leader 2023 Awards Top Product.

Thermo King, which previously launched the e200 all-electric TRU for Class 1-4 trucks and vans, is dedicated to providing sustainable transport refrigeration solutions and has invested more than $100 million to deliver fully electric products in every segment of the cold chain throughout the Americas by 2025. The process for achieving this ambitious goal has long been in the works, and Thermo King Vice President of Product Management Chris Tanaka says the company is confident in achieving and exceeding this milestone.

The release of these new all-electric transport refrigeration solutions will benefit businesses and industries that rely on cold chain transportation services, both in improving the efficiency of their own operations, and also improving sustainability and ESG practices as a whole.

Improving Sustainability Throughout the Cold Chain

One big impact of sustainability in cold transport is spoilage and waste. It is estimated that food waste alone accounts for up to 10% of the world’s emissions.

According to the EPA, food loss in the United States embodies the equivalent of 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That comes from production, transportation, and handling of food, and does not include additional emissions that are produced when wasted food ends up in landfills.

“Thermo King enables food waste reduction efforts in a huge way,” Tanaka says. “Our reliable transport refrigeration systems help ensure load integrity by optimizing temperature conditions using innovative electrified technology. Furthermore, we’re reducing energy intensity by moving to more efficient solutions that decarbonize the cold chain.”

The main energy source when moving cold products from one place to another has traditionally been diesel fuel. With that in mind, most of the infrastructure, technology, vehicles, and systems in place are set up to use diesel, not electric systems.

That creates a few hurdles in implementing the means to decarbonize cold chain transport.

Electrification is a key decarbonization strategy in the transportation industry, but infrastructure such as charging locations lags behind goals. That can slow corporate transitions due to costs, simplicity, and reliability, which is seen as especially important with cold transport to keep products safe.

Thermo King, while enhancing its products, also aims to ease industry transitions in this area by offering four-year standard warranties and having telematics and automated systems come standard with its platforms. Those systems will also provide data to show how the vehicles are operating, which can help businesses improve their operational efficiencies, grow their fleets, or expand markets down the road.

The company also offers support, including on-the-road assistance through its significant dealer network comprised of over 200 locations and more than 900 factory-certified technicians.

Then with the growing focus on transport decarbonization, there are an expanding number of regulations. California is leading the charge, with a mandate that 15% of refrigerated truck fleets be zero emissions by the end of this year. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), fourteen other states and Washington D.C. have plans for rules similar to California’s in the works. More federal and local regulations, many with deadlines still years away, are impacting the transport and cold chain sectors.

That has the company working diligently to not only meet those requirements but beat them with as much time to spare as possible. That will help make electric and low-carbon transitions smoother.

Thermo King Unveils a First-of-Its-Kind Electric Transport Refrigeration Unit

With existing technology and ever-present challenges in mind, Thermo King set out to address the electric transformation of refrigerated transport by building the design of the e1000 from what was in a sense a blank canvas.

“You can think of this as a ground-up design,” says Preeti Subramanian, Thermo King’s senior truck product manager. “Thermo King placed efficiency at the core of the unit and wanted to provide an architecture that is cutting edge. The unit contains a variable-speed compressor that translates to enhanced efficiency. The e1000 also has an all-electric architecture, which means there is no diesel engine.”

The company enhanced technologies from its experience making diesel engines more efficient by translating that into electric offerings. Thermo King then established newer, more advanced solutions to increase sustainability.

Some of what the e1000 offers includes a single-temperature unit design with electric power takeoff integration for connection with electric chassis systems, and a unit that is lighter than diesel equivalents. Thermo King says it has minimal impact on the electric chassis range. The company says cooling also remains reliable between each charge, and cooling continues as the truck’s battery is charging.

Additionally, the e1000 uses lower global warming potential R-452A refrigerant, which the company says will reduce direct carbon emissions by up to 50%.

Thermo King Partners with OEMs for Successful Decarbonization Results

To get the e1000 on the road, Thermo King has partnered with several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Those electric vehicle chassis integrations include Navistar’s International eMV Series, Daimler Truck North America’s Freightliner  eM2, and Lion Electric’s LION 6.

Like many industries, the transport refrigeration industry can positively impact the sustainability of our world through technology and innovation. Investments in talent and skill sets, research and development, real-world testing, and collaboration with manufacturers will help the industry move technological ideation forward.

Thermo King hopes that this process sets a road map to electrify refrigerated transport, and the company looks forward to future OEM integrations.

“We are in a transformational journey in the transportation industry where all of us are coming forward with new products and innovative technology to create a more sustainable future,” Tanaka says.

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