Cold storage containers delivered to China

New PCM containers on the road in China. Credit: University of Birmingham
New PCM containers on the road in China. Credit: University of Birmingham

A shipping container that is equipped with phase change materials (PCM) that store and release cold energy when changing state, such as from liquid to solid, is currently being delivered in China, hoping to become an addition to traditional refer containers.

Compared with traditional technologies, which rely on diesel-powered refrigeration, the PCM cooled freight containers have the advantages of constant temperature control, passive cooling, energy saving and environmental benefits. The containers can easily be transfer between trains and trucks, offering enhanced flexibility across supply chains and reduced emissions.

Experts from the University of Birmingham, UK, have worked with Chinese railway rolling stock company, CRRC Shijiazhuang, to develop the cold storage road and rail container.
The company has now started to deliver the first order of 49 passively-cooled containers to Yunnan Su Lida Agricultural Products Supply Chain. The containers are an enhanced version of the launch units trialled in 2018.

Once charged, a full charge for a container takes less than two hours, the technology can keep the interior of the container within a set temperature range for over 100 hours.

For example, if the set temperature range is 5-12 ᵒC, one charge could last around 140 hours. However, the duration can be increased to around 194 hours if the set temperature range is 0-5 ˚C.