Loblaw putting Westhill Innovation project to the test
Innovation Factory client, Westhill Innovation Inc., provides industry with durable, lightweight and environmentally responsible composite solutions by combining novel materials in the best ways. Learn more about them at westhillinnovation.com
This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator. Read the full post and story by Tom Hogue here.
Loblaw is set to begin testing a local company’s solar-powered system that keeps truck cargo cool.
In a system developed by Westhill Innovation Inc., solar panels fixed to the top of a trailer substitute for the energy supplied to the cooling units by the truck’s diesel engine.
The process saves 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in a year — equivalent to that produced by seven cars, said Westhill president Gina Succi.
With Loblaw testing the trailer system on grocery deliveries around the province this winter, Succi expects to gather valuable performance data about the unit, which was built at Mohawk College’s Stoney Creek campus with the help of McMaster University masters students from the W Booth School of Engineering.
Key to Westhill’s patent-pending technology is a black box that integrates power from panels that can be safely and easily installed, Succi said.
Mohammad Alaisowi, Westhill’s renewable energy engineer, describes the panels as photovoltaic cells and circuits fused into a metal composite material that is designed to withstand highway conditions typical of long-haul trucking.
The applications for the system are vast — from rail cars to architectural panels in building construction — but co-founder Emil Radoslav said they started with the trucking industry because it’s “low-hanging fruit” with the amount of diesel fuel consumed.
Depending on the size of the container being shipped, an average of $10,000 in fuel cost can be saved per year, according to Radoslav, who estimates the technology would take two to three years to pay for itself. The system’s lifespan is 20 years.
“We’re only focusing on a little tiny market” within the larger market of companies looking to replace diesel truck engines, Succi said, estimating there are 200,000 trailers operated by the top 20 companies in North America that have already made investments into electric trucks.
Data from the Loblaw trial will be used to streamline the size of the units and improve capabilities. The group is in the midst of sourcing venture capital to scale up manufacturing and sales.