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Nature Fresh Farms, University of Windsor to partner on electric fleet study


July 6, 2021
By Nature Fresh Farms

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Nature Fresh Farms CEO, Peter Quiring (left) and University of Windsor's Dr. Rupp Carriveau (right). Photo credit: Nature Fresh Farms

Nature Fresh Farms is joining the University of Windsor in their long-haul vehicle transportation sustainability project towards achieving energy-efficient shipping methods.

The purpose of this $160,000 project is to determine the impact of long-haul electric vehicles (LHEV) on Ontario’s electric grid. They will create an archetypal routing network by determining the most frequently traveled routes and then overlay the electric grid which will help determine how it will perform when managing a fleet of electric trucks.

“As an innovative company we are always thinking ‘what is next?’, whether its developments in product varieties, technology, or sustainability. Green transportation is the next big focus,” shared Nature Fresh Farms CEO, Peter Quiring. “We were given the opportunity to work closely on this project and offer our operations as a case study to see how we can find feasible alternatives, not only for Nature Fresh Farms or even for companies in agriculture, but for every industry that relies on the transportation of their goods.”

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Being battery-operated, the trucks will look, haul, and perform similarly to diesel trucks but with zero emissions. By drawing power from the electric grid, the transport trucks would not only be able to sustainably deliver goods but also allow for the transfer of electrons back to the grid at strategic locations and times.

The project is spearheaded by Dr. Rupp Carriveau, director of the Environmental Energy Institute, and his associate Dr. Hanna Maoh, of the Cross Border Institute, with the assistance of several graduate students. They are developing various industry-related partnerships that will assist in different facets of their project, including one with Nature Fresh Farms.

We needed a partner to help pilot our project and potentially test and Nature Fresh Farms came to mind. They are a very progressive company and are calculated risk takers that push boundaries with new technologies,” says Carriveau.

The analytics and case studies are where Leamington, Ont.-based Nature Fresh Farms comes in. The company will be able to send information from its operations which will include shipping schedules, power use, and utility costs to provide the research team with data that will determine the strengths and weaknesses of converting its fleet to electric vehicles. This information will help to examine the opportunities for electric trucks in the greenhouse industry.

With the first step of the project working towards establishing an electrical grid that will manage a fleet of electric vehicles, phase two is the potential pilot study of developing and using electric long-haul vehicles for that grid.