EXCLUSIVE: ‘Scotland’s Tesla’ drives into de-carbonised transport future with Iceland Foods in £38m BPV (battery-powered vehicles) project

sunamp-bpv-carEXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

As governments in Holyrood and Westminster crawl along in first-gear to de-carbonise private and/or commercial motor transport, the private-sector energy and automotive industries are already racing ahead.

There is a clear view of the possible de-carbonised private motoring future which looks like this:

You leave your home in the morning to drive to work in your BPV (battery powered vehicle), or you drive to the shops for the groceries at the weekend and visit friends and family as well.

You then return to your home, plug your BPV into the nearest power-charger (either in your garage or parking space) where the car is charged-up overnight with free renewable energy power by solar and/or wind farms.

Repeat the next day, etc – and hey presto – mass market motor vehicles have been de-carbonised with BPVs.

But it will only happen gradually and not in the near future and will have little to with ‘worthy-but-sluggish’ government policy.

In the real world, the market-driven private sector will have come up a solution to de-carbonising transport.

(The real problem the snail-pace civil servants will be left grappling with is how to replace all those petrol taxes… but that’s a story for another day.)

 A BPV (battery powered vehicle) Paneltex van which will carry the Sunamp inverted heat battery
A BPV (battery powered vehicle) Paneltex van which will carry the Sunamp inverted heat battery

Meanwhile, the East Lothian-based private-sector battery-power storage provider Sunamp –  recently described by a Scottish energy minister as ‘the Scottish Tesla’ – has teamed up with the automotive and truck haulage industry – to increase the range (and hence lower the costs) of BPVs (battery powered vehicles).

Sunamp – the lead partner in a BPV project involving retailer Iceland Foods – has effectively inverted its leading-edge Heat Batteries to create a new cold storage technology that can maintain the required ambient temperature in the refrigerated cargo bay of the grocer’s local delivery vans.

The Sunamp system has a better power to weight ration and is more efficient than using Li-Ion batteries, helping to increase the vehicle’s payload capabilities by reducing the size of the traction battery pack.

This trial builds on Sunamp’s breakthrough research and development, under previous Innovate UK funding of Heat Batteries, for heating and air conditioning in electric cars and buses, with huge benefits in extending the useful range of these BPVs at low cost.

By separately providing battery power for cargo-load refrigeration, this reduces the demand on the drive-traction batteries used to make the BPV move – thereby increasing their operating range.

Home shopping delivery has witnessed explosive growth in the past few years, and EVs are increasingly playing their part in e-shopping fulfilment.

However, electric vans and trucks have so far been unable to make a significant impact in chilled goods delivery fleets due to insufficient range and payload capabilities – powering both the vehicle and the fridge unit either reduces payload due to a bigger battery pack, or reduces range.

A new combination of award-winning technologies and expertise aims to decouple the power requirements of the fridge unit and the drive train. It is targeting a significant improvement in the range, payload and performance of BPVs used for chilled goods logistics.

Iceland Foods, which pioneered home shopping delivery, is now deploying a unique new BPV delivery vehicle in its commercial fleet for trials.

Truck manufacturer Paneltex has modified one of its all-electric BPV trucks on a 5.5t Isuzu chassis for the project. The vehicle will be fitted with Sunamp’s innovative cold storage technology, while Livingston-based Route Monkey is providing its unique BPV fleet-operation optimisation algorithms.

Route Monkey’s unique BPV operating software optimises vehicle range by calculating factors such as route topography and scheduling deliveries of heavier loads at the beginning of the day. It will also plan the demo-vehicle’s deliveries in accordance with Iceland’s two-hour customer time windows.

The fourth consortium member, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), is involved in dissemination of project results.

Andrew Bissell, Chief Executive of Sunamp  who has recently set up a dedicated automotive business unit in the company – said: “The partnership’s combined technology has the potential to be a genuine game-changer. If it proves as successful as we expect, it will have far-reaching applications in refrigerated vehicles and beyond.”

The project is part of a £38 million initiative funded by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK – the national innovation agency.

Colin Ferguson, Chief Executive, Route Monkey, said: “Fundamentally, our goal is to make BPV vans and trucks a far more attractive option for chilled goods home delivery fleets.”

Meanwhile, global oil goliath Shell is taking an “all-inclusive approach” to powering vehicles.

Matthew Tipper, Shell’s vice-president for new fuels and new energies said the $200 billion oil giant is investing in synthetic fuels and hydrogen, and is “interested” in battery-technology for BPVs.

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