Newton Fund (Invitation Only) - Dearman liquid air TRU systems for cold chain in India

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) estimates that 200m tonnes of perishable produce could be preserved if the
developing world had the same level of cold chain as the developed world, this accounts for up to 40% of crops harvested
in India. The lack of cold chain infrastructure in India, particularly the lack of transport refrigeration (TRUs) for the safe
transport of food must be addressed to reduce the losses. India's National Centre for Cold-chain Development has stated
that India requires a further 52,000 TRUs simply to catch up with current production, excluding any future growth. This
innovative industrial research project will optimise the proven zero-emission, affordable, novel Dearman transport
refrigeration system technology, focusing on the liquid nitrogen tank, for the Indian market. The project will be completed by
five core beneficiaries with the support of an advisory partner who will review project aims and achievements on a quarterly
The research into the LiN tank design will look at novel ways of dealing with the expected high levels of boil off if a standard
tank is used. Using the current configuration would lead to reduced operating times and increased fill frequencies - the new
design will look to minimise these issues and develop a new tank design to reduce the sloshing of liquid nitrogen using fluid
flow analysis and modelling and mechanical design optimisation. This will achieve a new product optimised for the Indian
market that could pave the way for a new commercial product and IP in the form of new patents.
The proposed project will be conducted in collaboration with our academic partner, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
(IITB), conducted in parallel to the other work packages lead by our Industrial partners Dearman, Artic Refrigeration,
Cartwright and ColdEX. UoB will lead the mechanical design and optimisation of the LiN tank as described in WP6 and will
contribute to the fluid flow analysis and modelling. The tank technologies developed at Birmingham will be supported by
state-of-the-art facilities housed within the EPSRC funded Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage including a
range of measurement and analytical facilities, UoB's BLUEBear high performance computing facilities and the Government/ INNOVATE UK funded Institute for Thermal Energy Manufacturing Accelerator (part of the Thermal-Energy
Research Accelerator, T-ERA).

Planned Impact

Worldwide food production must be increased by 70% by 2050, and this is driven in part by many emerging economies,
such as India, increasing food production in order to meet changing consumer needs and a growing population. This
challenge cannot be met only by increasing yield but also by reducing post harvest food losses. This drives research into
the cold chain and the development of green technologies for food distribution. The proposed project addresses the urgent
need for green transport refrigeration technologies in India, by optimising the on-vehicle LiN tank for the Dearman clean,
cold and power system. The tank will be designed to deal with vastly differing ambient conditions and varying levels of road
quality likely to be found across India. Tank materials, structural design and fluid control methods will need to limit boil off,
leading to increased operating times and a decrease in refill frequency.
Key beneficiaries of this work will be industry, government agencies, academics and the general public. A comprehensive
programme of dissemination, through academic and trade journals, workshops, conferences and technology
demonstrations will ensure that the outcomes of this project are communicated effectively.
The main economic beneficiaries will be companies transporting refrigerated goods - a multi-billion dollar global industry
growing annually at 25% (GAGR) in India - as well as the industrial gases industry who will supply liquid nitrogen to those
companies and refrigerated equipment suppliers who will fit the newly developed transport refrigeration unit (TRU) on to
their fleet vehicles. Other economic beneficiaries will be those that benefit from an integrated 'cold-chain', such as
agricultural and supporting industries, food processors, exporters and retailers. Consumers will benefit from improved food
quality and reduced price volatility as a result of reduced post harvest food losses.
There will be Environmental benefits though the optimisation of clean, sustainable Dearman TRU systems in India.
Traditional diesel refrigeration systems emit up to six times the NOx and 29 times the particulate matter (PM) of a modern
diesel propulsion engine. The Dearman TRU has been shown to be cost effective with superior pull down times and zeroemissions
at point of use as well as lower CO2. It can also drive the ancillary loads i.e. fans and so is truly independent of
the primary diesel powertrain. A clean cold chain will lead to improved urban air quality and help achieve India's
greenhouse gas emissions targets through reduced CO2 emissions from TRUs.
The societal benefits will emanate from improved food quality and nutritional content, as well as improved local air quality
(which currently accounts for an c.600k Indian deaths p.a.). There will also be prosperity through job creation with
improved food transportation and local manufacturing and installation of the system. Furthermore contributions to and
influence over policy related to urban air quality, energy and the cold chain through involvement in scientific advisory
committees will be made.
Academic beneficiaries; A novel, fully optimised tank for the TRU system will lead to further penetration of the Dearman
Technology into transportation and other cold and power applications. Understanding the fundamental behaviour of the
stored cryogenic fluid and its interaction with the surrounding tank will help establish the limits of operation. Through
dissemination of the successes of this project to research communities and industry, the Dearman Technology will
contribute to the global strategy for sustainable energy production and utilisation. It will also produce a team of highly
skilled cold and power researchers and engineers as future industry leaders. Finally, the general public, though a
comprehensive dissemination plan, will be informed and aware of the issues, successes and knowledge generated from
this project.


10 25 50
Description A full cryogenic tank has been designed for use as part of the Dearman Transport Refrigeration Units. A suit of mechanical and thermo-fluid analysis models have been developed to predict fluid behaviour/ sloshing within a tank subject to heavy vehicle dynamics and road loads.
Exploitation Route Our data set is available on the University of Birmingham's Research data service. There were a number of customer/ client workshops conducted workshop conducted with the project partners in India and the UK. 2 masters levels researchers worked on the project and completed research thesis, at no cost to the project. There were also a number of public outputs relating to the technology and the wider project.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Transport

Description IIT Bombay 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The LiN tank work package is being led by Birmingham University, and their contribution is under the leadership of Dr. Karl Dearn, a co-director of the Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage (BCCES) based at the University. Karl has extensive experience working with the Dearman technology. The project is being delivered within the BCCES, and the facility houses a test laboratory for cryogen-powered devices, including a fully commissioned Dearman development engine, as well as a wide range of analytical equipment.
Collaborator Contribution Prof Milind Atrey leads the IIT Bombay contribution to the LiN tank work package and has been associated with Cryogenics for 30 years. He supports the work in their Refrigeration & Cryogenics laboratory, which has considerable experience in handling cryogenics and research. The laboratory is equipped with a LiN plant (of capacity 50 liters per hour) and also a Liquid Helium plant.
Impact Joint visits, visiting researcher and staff development
Start Year 2018
Description Exploring energy innovation technologies with the Energy Minister for Burkina Faso 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) welcomed Dr. Bachir Ismaël Ouédraogo, Energy Minister for the West African nation of Burkina Faso on to campus. The minister took a tour of The laboratories, learnt about our world leading research, include the research being untaken within this projec. The UoB group also explored how Burkina Faso and the University of Birmingham might collaborate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Shadow Minister for International Development Preet Gill MP visits Birmingham engineers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Preet Gill MP, Shadow Minister for International Development and MP for Edgbaston, visited the University of Birmingham to learn more about how its engineers are using their expertise to tackle global environmental challenges and provide high quality employment opportunities for graduates.

Dr Karl Dearn, Reader in Mechanical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Formula Student Facility Advisor, showed Ms Gill how the University is working with partners in the UK and India to develop sustainable 'Clean Cold' supply chains.

Ms Gill MP also met members of UBRacing, Birmingham's successful Formula Student racing team. Here, students from across the University have the chance to work together to build and race a high-performance prototype for a single-seat race car. The team picked up three awards at the Formula Student UK competition in 2017 UBRacing. Past members of the team have used the skills and experience they've developed to secure high-quality jobs in engineering.

Dr Karl Dearn, Reader in Mechanical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Formula Student Facility Advisor, said: "Through our global collaborations, we're using our engineering expertise to develop solutions to the big global challenges we face such as climate change and feeding a growing population.

UBRacing is an example of how students at Birmingham, whether they study engineering or another subject, benefit from our world-leading engineering and develop the skills and experience employers are looking for. Formula Student is a bench-mark for real-world engineering experience."

Effective cooling is essential to preserve food and medicine. The Cold Economy is the development of cohesive and integrated (technology agnostic) system-level strategies to mitigate demand and meet cooling needs sustainably within our climate change, natural resource and clean air targets, while supporting economy growth.

By harnessing new technologies such as the Dearman liquid nitrogen powered engine, Birmingham is helping to reduce food wastage, and support increased production whilst also reducing carbon emissions and pollution associated with traditional diesel-powered refrigeration systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018