Thermo King AxlePower with BPW ePower axle Wins European Transport Award for Sustainability 2024

Thore Bakker (BPW), Gina Linkmann (BPW), Eckardt Augenstein (Thermo King). ©Huss Verlag.

Thermo King®, a leader in transport temperature control solutions and a brand of Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT) and BPW Bergische Achsen KG, a leader in running gears and mobility services for transport, won in the “Components and Aggregates” category of the European Transport Award for Sustainability 2024[1]. The jury recognized Thermo King and BPW for AxlePower, the smart energy generating system that stores energy generated from rolling or braking of the trailer in a high voltage battery and reuses it to power the refrigeration unit.

“Winning the European Transport Award for Sustainability 2024 for AxlePower confirms our belief that we have created a solution set to become a pivotal component of environmentally conscious trailer refrigerated transportation,” said Laurent Debias, product management and marketing leader at Thermo King. “Within the ongoing transition from diesel-based to electric technologies, our customers receive a proven and tested way to drastically reduce carbon emissions, noise and operational costs of their trailer fleets.”

“Sustainability plays an important role in both our companies. We are therefore delighted to receive this award, which recognizes not only the products but also the sustainable practices and strategies of companies. At the same time, it is proof of our successful collaboration on the breakthrough of zero-emission refrigerated transport,” said Thore Bakker, General Manager Business Unit Trailer Solutions and Mobility Services at BPW.

About Thermo King AxlePower

Available to customers and in serial production, Thermo King AxlePower is a fully integrated, tractor independent system that combines BPW’s ePower axle with Thermo King refrigeration unit and power management technology. The AxlePower’s smart energy generating system delivers the power needed to run the trailer refrigeration unit by converting energy recovered by the trailer’s axle during the vehicle’s routine operation.

The system stores the energy generated while the vehicle is rolling or braking in a high voltage battery and reuses it to power the refrigeration unit – enabling fully electric and autonomous trailer refrigeration. The Thermo King Energ-e battery pack, being charged while the trailer is moving also powers the unit autonomously while the trailer is stopped. Smart power management controls the engagement and disengagement of the generators minimising the resistance on the tractor and providing the driver and fleet manager with real-time battery charge visibility.

The AxlePower system has gone through rigorous field-tests by different customers in six European countries, since fourth quarter of 2022. The configurations of the refrigeration units varied from hybrid versions with diesel backup engines to engineless, fully electric systems. This real-life testing phase featured a wide range of applications including the daily distribution of fresh products and long-haul frozen goods transport with multi-night stops.

The results of these trials reported up to 20 consecutive weeks of electric refrigeration in local distribution without the restart of the reefer’s diesel engine or connection to shore power. On long haul routes with night stops, the AxlePower system allowed the refrigeration units to operate fully in electric mode throughout the day, and for 40% to 80% of the nighttime, depending on the Energ-e battery pack configuration. When battery capacity was used, the backup diesel engine of the refrigeration unit kicked in seamlessly to maintain set temperatures.

Trials showed there’s no change in trailer and tractor behaviour, ensuring unaffected driving. The fuel consumption reports confirmed that the AxlePower has a marginal impact on the tractor fuel consumption. This is achieved by optimising recovery of energy from the BPW ePower axle generators when it is most efficient to do so and only when needed by the battery.

About the European Transport Award for Sustainability 2024

The biennial European Transport Award for Sustainability is organized by the German publisher HUSS-VERLAG GmbH and its magazine Transport. The award honours companies in the transportation and commercial vehicle industry that take sustainable actions and better anchor the principles of sustainable development.

The 2024 awards were handed out during an official ceremony in Munich, Germany. An independent jury consisting of representatives from business, science, industry associations and media carefully evaluated the applications in 16 different categories based on a point system. The award is intended to encourage companies in the transport and commercial vehicle sector to act sustainably and demonstrates that responsible and sustainable action not only helps to solve social and ecological problems on a global scale, but also increases profitability and competitiveness for the businesses.