About eight years ago, the team at VALX thought about optimising the ‘power of motion’ by equipping a trailer axle with a generator that could be used to charge batteries. Sales Director, Martin van Willigen, said that with an integrated power generation system fitted to the axles of trailing equipment, there are opportunities, in theory, for fleet operators to achieve significant operational and fuel efficiencies, especially if this technology could be used to share the load of connected systems that draw electricity.
The innovative original equipment manufacturer set about making this concept a reality and introduced the E2! energy axle at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in 2012. Taking this achievement further, VALX explored a new design involving a full-electric refrigerated trailer with Dutch rental fleet, Twan Heetkamp, and refrigeration specialist, TRS Transportkoeling (currently owned by Carrier Transicold).
In 2013, VALX presented its first prototype at Transport Compleet in Venray, the Netherlands, and his since refined the build. Conventional refrigeration units are often powered by diesel, and this fuel source negatively impacts the environment, contributing carbon dioxide emissions and noise disturbance. A full-electric solution, however, paves the way for a greener, more environmentally friendly future – inspiring positive change for the refrigerated transport industry and encouraging fleets to invest in electric-powered alternatives.
Together with its partners, VALX is studying if the VALX generator can be used for other applications including hydraulic and electric steering systems, lifting and lowering the loading floor of double-deck trailers, recharging the batteries of an electric truck forklift, electrically driving a loading crane as well as air conditioning for livestock transport.
Today, there are about 25 custom spec’d reefers that operate in the Benelux area of Europe, featuring E2! energy axles that are configured to electrically power on-board refrigeration units. This year, and the following year, a limited, but significant, amount of units will be made available for the European market. In 2020, VALX plans serial production.