Support for the Dearman Engine liquid air technology as a solution to the challenges of postharvest food losses and air pollution gained prominence recently, following events in both the UK and India.

This began with a call for urgent attention to cold chain development, discussed at the two-day Clean and Cool Summit on June 30 and July 1 in London, organised by the Liquid Air Energy Network (LAEN) and hosted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Alongside the Summit, the IMechE’s Head of Energy and Environment, Dr. Tim Fox, launched the Institution’s latest report, A Tank of Cold: Cleantech Leapfrog to a More Food Secure World.

The report explains how, in developing countries like India, up to 50% of perishable food is lost before ever reaching a plate because cold chains are rudimentary or non-existent. Dr. Fox, the lead author, stated, “One in eight people on the planet goes to bed hungry every night. That shocking fact is made worse when you consider that a third to a half of the food produced globally is never eaten.”

Where cold chains are developing – in megacities such as Beijing and Delhi – the delivery component is powered by highly polluting diesel transport refrigeration units (TRUs), which contribute to chronic and toxic smog. Outdoor pollution has caused 600,000 premature deaths in India in a single year.

At the Summit, delegates including government officials from India, Malaysia and Tanzania, multinationals and academics discussed the next steps towards the creation of a joined-up ‘cold economy.’

In particular, the Tanzania Horticultural Association commended the work done by the Dearman Engine Company and stated their desire to partner with Dearman on an eco-friendly solution for transport refrigeration.

According to Eric Trachtenberg, Director of Food & Agriculture at McLarty Associates, studies of Tanzania have shown that using liquid air in the transport of passion fruit in the country could halve the cost of the refrigeration system. Trachtenberg commented, “Liquid air technologies will make it cheaper to make the necessary expansions in the cold chain” and Jacqueline Mkindi of the Tanzania Horticultural Association added “the majority of farmers are small farmers and liquid air can help them. The Dearman engine could transform prospects in Africa.”

The ‘need for clean’ was a strong theme across the event.  One of the key statistics quoted in the report was that diesel-powered TRUs emit 29 times the amount of particulate matter (PM) as the primary engine of a modern diesel truck. Eric Trachtenberg highlighted how liquid air uses fewer resources, could reduce PM and NOx emissions, offer more reliable energy access in countries where grid-based power can be unreliable, and offer better price stability too.

Toby Peters, Senior Group Managing Director of the Dearman Engine Company, has been invited to present the technology to industrial leaders and government officials in a special seminar at the British High Commission in Pune in December. He said, “On the evidence of the presentations given at the Summit and our meetings in India, demand for liquid air technologies from developing countries would far exceed the demand from within the UK. As well as supporting cold chain development in countries like India this has a real benefit for UK PLC, with the potential of even more British jobs.”

“We know that the Dearman engine and liquid air are exciting and important options for developing cold chains around the world, but this recent support is exactly the validation we need. As the Dearman engine undergoes on-vehicle testing this summer, we will be working hard over the coming months to ensure the technology is ready to go into manufacturing and into market.”