The future of cooling Abu Dhabi

By Scott MacMeekin / CEO, Dearman Engine Company 27/11/2018

At the heart of Abu Dhabi’s sustainability efforts is how to efficiently provide the Emirate’s cooling. With temperatures staying above 30 degrees Celsius for nearly nine months of the year, there is huge demand for cooling for providing refrigerated transport for food and medicines, ensuring cool water supplies for residents and workers, and the need to keep buildings and data centres cool. In fact, almost 70% of Abu Dhabi’s electricity consumption is accounted for by air conditioning alone.

In line with Abu Dhabi’s sustainability ambitions to tackle climate change and reduce polluting emissions, there is an increasing demand to provide this cooling cleanly. As London-based experts in clean cold, we are proud of our groundbreaking innovations based on our zero-emission, liquid nitrogen technology, and we look forward to contributing to the UAE’s significant expertise on clean energy.

At Dearman, we have successfully shown what our technology can achieve, and that is why leading sustainability-conscious food manufacturers and the largest fleet operators in the world are coming to us. Given that 80% of the UAE’s food is imported through global logistics chains, we know we can be part of the country’s more sustainable future.

In food logistics, large delivery trucks typically have two diesel engines - the main engine to propel the vehicle, and a second engine to power the refrigeration and keep the food cold while in transit. The second diesel engine can be significantly more polluting, emitting six times as much nitrogen oxide and 29 times as much particulate matter as the main engine. This has significant impacts for public health and subsequently for healthcare costs.

In stark contrast to dirty diesels, the revolutionary Dearman engine is zero emission. It emits zero nitrogen oxides and zero particulate matter. Crucially for Abu Dhabi and its refrigerated delivery trucks, the extremely low temperatures of liquid nitrogen (going down to -196 degrees Celsius while in the tank), mean that the same tank of liquid nitrogen, while powering the refrigeration, also provides the cooling needed to keep food cold.

Similarly, the Dearman engine also has huge potential for use in electric buses. Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2018 was notable not least because the all-electric Eco-Bus was unveiled, running up to 150km on a full battery charge. In hot climates, 40% of an electric bus’s energy demand is consumed by the air-conditioning alone. The cooling derived from a Dearman system means the range the bus can travel is increased, without needing to increase battery capacity. In fact, with a Dearman system, the battery pack itself could also be smaller, cheaper and lighter.

In short, as shown by the refrigerated delivery and bus air-conditioning examples, our technology has enormous potential in Abu Dhabi given the Emirate’s huge demand for cooling all year round. There is ample supply of liquid nitrogen globally to supply thousands of zero emission Dearman engines - which helps the affordability of our technology.

Our refrigeration unit has already been used in delivery trucks by global consumer goods giant Unilever and British retail giants Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. We are also currently running projects looking at using our technology to cool data centres, and help farmers reduce post-harvest food loss.

The UAE’s population is forecast to grow from 8.5 million in 2015 to 10.5 million in 2030, and naturally this will mean a growing demand for cold, whether in air conditioning, transport refrigeration, public transport, data centres, or elsewhere. The challenge will be providing this cooling in a clean way that is affordable, efficient and non-polluting. But the scale of ambition behind Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week shows a clear intent to meet that challenge head on - and we at Dearman would be proud to join you in delivering that ambition.

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