DP World logistic group and food retailer Woolworths are the first players in Africa to operate the Thermo King AxlePower energy recovery system on the road. The system developed by Thermo King enables 100% electric refrigeration and expect to save 27 tonnes of CO2 per year. Actually, the new Thermo King refrigerated trailer has commenced operations on Woolworth’s route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Thermo King AxlePower is a result of a collaboration between Thermo King and BPW Bergische Achsen KG, a major player in running gears and mobility services for transport. AxlePower is a fully integrated, tractor independent system that combines BPW’s ePower axle with Thermo King refrigeration unit and power management technology. The AxlePower’s smart energy generating system delivers the power needed to run the trailer refrigeration unit by converting energy recovered by the trailer’s axle during the vehicle’s routine operation.

Thermo King’s AxlePower energy storage system

The system stores the energy generated while the vehicle is rolling or braking in a high voltage battery and reuses it to power the refrigeration unit – enabling fully electric, low or zero-emission and autonomous trailer refrigeration. The Thermo King Energ-e battery pack, being charged while the trailer is moving also powers the unit autonomously while the trailer is stopped.

The AxlePower system has proved its resilience by operating efficiently in extreme conditions, providing constant cooling, with uninterrupted airflow inside the trailer in ambient temperatures exceeding 40°C. Over a distance of 15,000 km covered so far, the system has operated in electric mode, without engaging the unit’s diesel engine, for more than 97% of the time. The system also required no connection to the grid to compensate for any lack of energy nor to balance the battery charge.

Statements from Thermo King and Woolworths Holdings

“This projects marks an important milestone towards a more sustainable future for Africa’s transport and logistics sector,’ said Ronnie Meechan, regional director Middle East and Africa at Thermo King. “In the rapidly growing South African market, the adoption of electrification and hydrogen technologies has become increasingly prominent in the pursuit of transporters looking to reduce their fuel consumption”.

“As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are excited to introduce Thermo King AxlePower technology to our fleet,” added Feroz Koor, Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability. “Following the rollout of our electric online delivery vehicles last year, this initiative aligns with our Vision 2025+ goal to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040″.


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