CO2 (R744) and propane (R290) transport refrigeration units in the Philippines were the focus of an online technical training workshop held last week by the Cold Chain Innovation Hub (CCI-Hub), a Manila, Philippines-based center for sustainable food cold chain technology exhibitions and training.

CCI-Hub was launched in 2019 as part of an initiative to upgrade the food cold chain in the Philippines. Called the “Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines,” the project is jointly led by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines (DENR). shecco, publisher of this website, is one of the project’s key executing partners.

The event, CCI-Hub’s third online technical training workshop, took place on June 9 and featured three speakers: Suresh Duraisamy, Associate Director, Product Management at Carrier Transicold, Global Container Refrigeration; Roberto “Bong” Cruz, Head of Business Development and Corporate Communications at Centro Manufacturing Corporation, a Philippines-based truck body manufacturer and assembler; and Filip Kitanoski, Founder and CEO of Productbloks, a Vienna, Austria-based technology company focused on developing energy-efficient and green technologies for the refrigerated transport logistics industry.

Carrier Transicold’s NaturaLINE CO2 reefer unit was highlighted as a key technology with the potential to help the sustainable development of the Philippines’ food cold chain during the event.

Asked about the feasibility of using solar energy to power the NaturaLINE CO2 reefer container when used as static storage in rural areas, Duraisamy said, “You would probably need somewhere around 15-20 square meters of [solar] panels to run a reefer unit.” Additional considerations such as proper control and tracking of the solar panels, as well as maintenance and training, would be important, he noted.

Queried about the robustness of the reefer unit in the Philippines’ environment, where typhoons are common, Duraisamy replied, “[The reefer units] are also designed for marine use where the units are installed on the deck of a ship … so rain should not be a problem at all. Ambient temperatures up to 50°C [122°F]have also been tested and designed for so I don’t see the ambient conditions being a problem.”

Duraisamy noted that several food retailers in Europe and the U.S. have recently begun adopting Carrier’s NaturaLINE CO2 reefer units as static storage units for online grocery orders. For example, Estonia-based Cleveron recently announced it will be using Carrier Transicold NaturaLINE CO2 containers for its automated outdoor Cleveron 501 grocery kiosks.

Vienna, Austria-based Productbloks’ Kitanoski highlighted during the event his company’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system based on R290 for electric vehicles. “If you do the math, the indirect and direct emissions coming from the [direct-drive diesel engine-powered transport refrigeration] units are comparable to the emissions just that the [vehicle] itself is producing,” said Kitanoski. “So we believe that … if you solve the issue with the flammability of propane refrigerant, which we believe we have done, the benefits are enormous.”

First-mile delivery

Centro Manufacturing’s Cruz, spoke about the importance of developing the food cold chain infrastructure in the country, including delivery. “Without refrigerated cold storage facilities, food quality would suffer and consequently productivity would suffer because the rate of spoilage would be higher,” he said. “So we really need to address this at the first-mile delivery portion of the supply chain.”

Cruz was referencing the Philippines’ recently launched “Palamigan ng Bayan” (Cold Storage in the Community) program where refrigerated containers are being deployed to the country’s agri-fishery sector to help address concerns on food quality and productivity.

Centro Manufacturing is the Philippines’ leading manufacturer of truck bodies for the country’s transportation and logistics sector. It recently launched a new joint venture called Centro Nippon Fruehauf Cooltech Inc. where it will be locally manufacturing insulated sandwich panels and assembling refrigerated van bodies in an effort to provide vital support to the development of the Philippines’ cold chain logistics sector.

To see all previously recorded CCI-Hub webinars and workshops, visit the resources page of CCI-Hub’s website by clicking here.

Focus on food cold chain

The “Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines” project aims to identify, develop and stimulate the application of low-carbon, energy-efficient refrigeration technologies and business practices throughout the food cold chain to increase food safety and food security.

It is funded by US$2 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), with US$25 million in co-financing (in-kind, grants and loans).

The CCI-Hub will serve as the project’s main platform for providing an ecosystem of technical resources, training, knowledge sharing and stakeholder collaboration. Last year, the Philippines’ Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was announced as the official national entity that will host the CCI-Hub at its central office located in Metro Manila.

For more information on the project, visit the CCI-Hub website here. Those interested in staying up to date on project announcements can sign up for the official newsletter.

CCI-Hub is also currently seeking industry contributions to the project. Those interested can view details here or contact Jan Dusek, Head of Global Partnership for the CCI-Hub at