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Professor Toby Peters welcomes the inaugural “World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste”, which is being held in London on the 20th November and believes the UK is well positioned to play a key role in a new and developing multi-billion pound global industry to establish sustainable cold chains. More than 40 per cent of food is currently lost globally post-harvest, but estimates by the International Institute of Refrigeration suggest that 200 million tonnes of perishables could be preserved if developing countries had the same level of cold chain that is found in the developed world.

This summit builds on the interest generated by the recent IMechE report A Tank of Cold: Cleantech Leapfrog to a More Food Secure World, which specifically highlighted the need to find environmentally and economically sustainable solutions for cold chains. The report concluded that if the new demand in emerging markets for cold was satisfied using conventional diesel technologies, the cost, carbon emissions and air pollution would be ruinous. A traditional diesel transport refrigeration unit consumes up to 20 per cent of a refrigerated vehicle’s diesel, but can emit up to six times the NOx (nitrogen oxides) and 29 times the PM (particulate matter) of a truck’s modern engine.

Newly appointed Visiting Professor of Power and Cold Economy at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, Professor Toby Peters, said: “The UK is fast becoming the centre of the food waste and sustainable cold chain debate, and the fact that Carrier has chosen to hold its World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste here in London is welcome recognition of this. But the urgent challenge has to be sustainable refrigeration – a need that will only increase as the wealth of the population in developing countries grows and with it the lifestyles built around cold: from food to air conditioning, health to data.”

One such solution presented by the IMechE in its report is the UK-developed Dearman engine, which uses liquid air to provide cleaner and cheaper transport refrigeration. It is in demonstration this winter with MIRA, Air Products and Loughborough University, jointly funded by the UK Government.

“With the magnitude of the challenge, we need a range of solutions if emissions and CO2 are not to run out of control. The UK-based Dearman liquid air engine technology is increasingly gaining recognition from industry, academics and policy makers as an economic and environmental solution for both the UK and global cold chain. While not a silver bullet, liquid air technologies offer a compelling solution for reducing the disproportionate impact of diesel in a variety of transport applications,” added Peters, who has worked with Peter Dearman, the inventor, to bring the technology to market and is Senior Group Managing Director of the Dearman Engine Company.

Professor Toby Peters and the University of Birmingham are launching a ‘Cold Commission’ to investigate solutions that will deliver sustainable cooling and power. “The rapidly emerging markets in Asia and South America are all seeing more than 20 per cent year-on-year growth in cold chain. India alone projects it needs to spend more than $15 billion on its cold chain over the next five years. ‘Clean cold’ is the new, multi-billion market and the UK could be a world leader if we can make a strong shop-window.”

The Dearman engine has been shortlisted for the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders’ (SMMT) prestigious Award for Automotive Innovation to be announced next week.

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