A British company plans to start testing a pioneering technology – an engine powered by liquid nitrogen – in India next year, and begin manufacturing them in the country in the next five years.

Dearman Engine Company, which uses a piston engine run on liquid nitrogen, to provide zero emission cold and power, will be testing a refrigerated truck using this technology in the UK later this year, and plans field trials internationally, including India, by next year.

Target production

“We are looking at 1,000 to 1,500 engines in those countries by 2017, and to be in manufacturing, producing 10,000 a year by 2018. By 2019, we will be looking at manufacturing, and assembly with partners in those markets,” said Professor Toby Peters, CEO of Dearman Engine Company.

The company has been in talks with the National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCCD) , set up by the Centre in 2012 to develop India’s fledgling cold chain network (a network of refrigerated trucks, warehouses, and other storage units) – as well as logistics companies, and engine makers – about creating an environmentally-friendly solution to India’s growing need for cold technology.

While in the short term the company is focusing on refrigerated transport, it plans to expand into other fields where it could provide cooling and auxiliary and backup power.

“Around 2 million people globally die every year because of a lack of cold chains,” says Peters, who estimates that around 25 per cent of vaccines produced in India don’t make it to their end point, because of lack of refrigerated transport and storage.

“About 40 per cent of food is lost post harvest before it gets to the end point.”

The company uses an engine, driven by the expansion of liquid nitrogen or liquid air, to transmit power and cold, without releasing the participate matter, for example, diesel engines.

Preference for India

While the company hopes to deploy the technology globally, Peters argues that India represents special opportunities, with its currently limited cold chain network set to expand rapidly under the helmsmanship of the NCCCD, set up by the government three years ago.

“There is a huge growth in middle classes in India and Asia and their lifestyles are going to be built on cold,” he says. “India has the NCCCD, which puts it way ahead of what we are doing in the UK. India can now either develop a cold chain in an unstructured way based on diesel or in a systematic, clean way.”

Dearman’s technology, he says, would be cost-effective too — in the UK, the cost of running the cooling for refrigerated trucks will roughly be a third cheaper using the Dearman technology than diesel.