Solving the problem of single-use batteries in cool containers

An unbroken cold supply chain is the lifeblood of global businesses in the pharma, medical and food industries. Every day, countless temperature-sensitive goods are shipped around the globe in cool containers to ensure they remain in the right temperature range for an entire journey. Without cool containers, perishable food, drugs, vaccines and blood plasma would expire long before they arrived at their destination.

Almost all cool containers rely on batteries: either non-rechargeable D-cell batteries, which are discarded after every use, or dedicated battery packs, which can’t be removed from the container when they need recharging. The former are very expensive (between 8 and 16 D-cell batteries are used on every journey) and the latter are very inconvenient (the container can’t be used while the pack is being recharged).

Dedicated battery packs versus single-use D-cell batteriesDedicated battery packs versus single-use D-cell batteries

What are the costs of single-use batteries in cool containers?

Economic costs of single-use batteries

The cost of D-cell batteries for cool containers can be eye-watering for fleet managers. A large global fleet of cool containers consumes around 500,000 D-cell batteries each year. With batteries costing around €1.50 each, that’s an annual bill of €750,000. And since there’s no alternative power source to operate cool containers, these expenses are simply booked as “normal operational expenses”. Ouch!

Graph showing the battery cost per 1000 cycles for single-use versus rechargeable batteriesBattery cost for rechargeable versus sing-use batteries


Environmental costs of single use batteries

Of course, it’s not just the operating costs of cool containers dependent on single-use batteries that give fleet managers a headache. There’s also the negative environmental impact.

The production, transportation and distribution of batteries deplete our natural resources of elements of metals such as cadmium, cobalt, lead, lithium, and nickel. What’s more, when not properly recycled, there’s a risk that the toxic substances that occur in batteries will leach into the soil or water supply or form poisonous gases and be released into the atmosphere.

What’s the alternative? Well, rechargeable batteries are a credible substitute for single-use batteries.

According to a Uniross study, when compared to single-use batteries, rechargeable batteries consume 23 times less non-renewable natural resources, have 28 times less impact on global warming, and 30% less impact on ozone pollution.

Infographic on the environmental impact of rechargeable versus single-use batteriesThe environmental impact of rechargeable versus sing-use batteries

The drawback of a dedicated battery packs in cool containers

There’s a major drawback though. They come in the form of dedicated battery packs, which can’t be removed from the cool container. That means the container can’t be used while the battery is being recharged (which can take around 8 hours). That’s a long time to be out of commission.

VRR rechargeable battery pack innovation

To overcome this industry-wide problem, VRR has developed a removable, rechargeable battery for its own range of cool containers.

The VRR rechargeable battery is extremely user friendly. Its design allows it to be removed and then replaced by a fully charged battery in a matter of seconds. This is much quicker and certainly much less fiddly then taking out and reinserting 8 or 16 D-cell batteries, so it helps save not only the environment but also valuable operational time.

VRR Rechargeable battery pack for cool containers
VRR Rechargeable battery pack for cool containers

This battery is not only easy to use. It’s also long lasting. It will operate a VRR cool container for up to 350 lifecycles (a full to empty battery is considered to be one lifecycle). For safety reasons, the battery needs to be refurbished by VRR after 350 lifecycles. After being refurbished the batteries can be safely used for another 350 lifecycles. Refurbishing the battery pack is cheaper, and of course more environmental friendlier, then purchasing a new battery pack.

The VRR rechargeable battery is now available for RKN and RAP cool containers. In addition, older versions of VRR cool containers can be retrofitted with this rechargeable battery so they can also benefit from the battery’s cost savings and smaller impact on our environment.

Learn more about our rechargeable battery for cool containers

If you’d like to know more about the VRR’s rechargeable battery for its cool containers, arrange to speak to a specialist by dropping a line at​

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