Challenge Dairy Products Inc., a Dublin, Calif.-based dairy foodservice producer, is said to be the first to deliver products via a solar-powered, zero-emissions, commercial-use transport refrigeration unit (TRU), powered by Rayfrigeration, Dublin, Calif.

This new technology utilizes the power of the sun to cool moderate refrigerated items such as dairy and produce during transport.

“As the first testers of the solar-powered TRU, we are humbled to play a part in a technology that will enable foodservice companies worldwide to have minimal impact on our planet,” says Tom Ditto, vice president of foodservice at Challenge Dairy Products. “For more than a century, Challenge has prided itself on delivering the freshest and highest quality products, and through our Rayfrigeration Delivery Service, we can hold true to our values, while keeping our customers happy and protecting our planet.”

Challenge’s foodservice distribution truck was outfitted with a Johnson’s TRU equipped with eNow's proprietary Rayfrigeration technology that allows for refrigeration without diesel through two forms of energy storage—cold plates and a unique, lightweight battery system developed by Emerson, St. Louis, Mo. The auxiliary battery is designed to be charged exclusively by solar and utility power. They are charged from utility power when plugged in overnight. Roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) panels provide electrical power to the TRU in daylight hours, whether delivering product or parked at the depot. As a backup option, the vehicle electrical system is also capable of charging the auxiliary batteries while the vehicle engine is operating.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District funded the Rayfrigeration initiative through its Technology Advancement Program that encourages innovation through the development of new emission reduction technologies.

Challenge Dairy has been testing the solar-powered TRU since April with sited emission reductions of 98% nitrous oxide, 86% carbon dioxide and 97% particulate matter. 

"Our company is deeply vested in the Valley where our dairy farmers reside and where locals help to make our butter and cream cheese in our facilities," says Tim Anderson, senior vice president of foodservice and retail for Challenge Dairy Products. "We are thrilled at the prospect of being able to improve air quality for the Valley, and our planet as a whole as others utilize Rayfrigeration.”