The system features a Dearman engine powered by liquid nitrogen. It has been developed as an emission-free alternative to conventional transport refrigeration units, which can account for 20% of a vehicle's diesel consumption.
The project – dubbed Cool-E – is backed by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), and managed by consortium partners Mira, Dearman, Air Products and Loughborough University.
On-vehicle testing will continue throughout the summer but results have already, according to Dearman, shown the system can cool the chilled trailer more quickly than a diesel-powered unit, and with no emissions.
Professor Toby Peters, founder and senior group MD of Dearman, describes the move to on-vehicle testing as "a key moment".
And he adds: "This milestone demonstrates rapid progress. Getting such an innovative technology into operation in such a short time is a real achievement."
The first unit is expected to go into commercial field trial later this year, with larger scale European and international trials following next year.