McCulla Ireland has taken the next step in its low carbon journey with Hultsteins’ zero emissions Ecogen system.

Founded in 1969, the company is Ireland’s leading provider of temperature-controlled logistics and operates a mixed fleet of 130 diesel and CNG trucks with 220 trailers. It has won a suite of awards for its environmental efforts, which include in-house biomethane production for use in its vehicles.

Its extensive efforts to slash CO2 brought conventional diesel-powered refrigeration units into sharp focus. “We’re doing all this fantastic work on the front end of the CNG trucks, which have 93% lower emissions than a diesel equivalent,” explains operations director, Brian Beattie, “but we’re hauling this 45-foot truck about with a fridge powered by a diesel internal combustion engine.”

McCulla began trialling Hultsteins’ Ecogen2 unit over 12 months ago with a supermarket customer. The Ecogen onboard power generator is fitted to the tractor unit and effectively transforms the existing diesel-powered refrigeration units (TRUs) to run on electricity during transit.

Ecogen can be retrofitted to any tractor unit with an engine power take-off. It generates 400 volts, and easily connects to the TRU fridge motor via a five-pin plug.

In addition to adapting TRUs to emission-free power, Hultsteins’ Ecogen system represents a highly cost-effective method for operators to switch to clean and sustainable transport refrigeration.

Hultsteins point out that there is no need to replace an existing trailer’s TRU, and by simply fitting an Ecogen to the tractor, every fridge it couples to will be transformed to electric operation.

“We’re now able to provide our customer with an extremely low-carbon CNG vehicle and fridge trailer with zero emissions, because it’s powered by the compressor on the truck,” adds Brian.

Results in numbers

While the Ecogen units can be applied to both diesel and CNG tractor units alike, their ability to square the green circle renders them a perfect fit for McCulla’s gas vehicles, which can catch the eye of large, environmentally conscious customers.

“The best application for us is on our gas-powered trucks, because what we’re offering to customers is a very low-carbon solution,” explains Brian, “it’s appealing to early adopters – those keen on environmental, social and governance policies – and you’re talking to a welcome audience that wants to reduce carbon. We find this is often driven by the larger corporates and multinationals.

“A lot of fleets out there just buy the one electric vehicle to tick a box. We’re more about rolling out low-CO2 solutions across our whole operation. We’ve run significant tests and we’re getting really good results, so we’re now considering rolling them out across the fleet.”