Dearman, the liquid nitrogen technology company, working in partnership with refrigeration equipment supplier Hubbard Products, confirms that proving ground tests at Horiba MIRA have been successful so far and are now entering their final phase.
Testing a second-generation Dearman/Hubbard refrigeration system
Track testing of a second-generation D/H refrigeration system on an 18-tonnes GVW two-axle rigid truck with temperature-controlled box body started at the Horiba MIRA proving ground in Warwickshire last November. Compared with the first Dearman liquid-air engine, unveiled in 2014, the latest one is claimed to be 30% lighter, 30% smaller, and 30% more efficient.
Evaporation of liquid nitrogen has been used before in transport refrigeration systems. But unlike the Dearman engine, previous systems have extracted no power from the evaporation process. Key to the engine’s appeal is its ability to extract both crankshaft-turning power and cold from each unit of liquid air or liquid nitrogen. The liquid is first vaporised in the refrigeration unit’s heat exchanger, cooling it down. Then the high-pressure gas is used to drive the engine’s crankshaft. This could in turn be coupled to a conventional refrigeration compressor, or for auxiliary power.
In 2013 a consortium involving MIRA (now Horiba MIRA), Air Products, Loughborough University and Dearman won a grant from what then was the government’s Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) to demonstrate how a Dearman engine running on liquid nitrogen (at minus 196 degrees Celsius) could be used as an alternative to diesel to fuel truck refrigeration equipment.
Hubbard Products, the long-established Suffolk-based Zanotti Group subsidiary specialising in commercial and transport refrigeration, signed a memorandum of understanding with Dearman in mid 2014. Last October the companies strengthened that relationship by forming a “technology partnership”.
This month Dearman announced that £16 million had been invested in the business by Park Vale Capital, a big multinational private equity firm.
And from this month the sixty-strong workforce includes the company’s first engineering apprentice – Cameron Douglas, working at its Croydon technology centre and studying at Kingston College, Surrey.
Nick Owen, Chief Technology Officer, said, “Cameron joins a rapidly growing team of engineers, and will have opportunities at Dearman to work with a truly cutting-edge technology.
“We are committed to encouraging the engineers of tomorrow, recognising that they will be vital to the success of not only our own technologies, but also the growth of the UK’s burgeoning clean-technology industry. We have an exciting and busy year ahead, with first field trials of our zero-emission transport refrigeration system commencing alongside new product development.”