Hydrogen Technology Facilitates the High-quality Development of Cold Chain Food Industry


In recent years, prefabricated food has become the most popular dish in China. As a terrific example of the integrated development of primary, secondary, and tertiary industries, the prefabricated food industry has emerged as a hot spot for development in many regions. This has stimulated the increasing demand and requirements for cold chain logistics over time.

With the vision of promoting the green transformation of cold chain logistics and propelling the high-quality development of the prefabricated food industry, on March 10th, the Henan Cold Chain Association, together with the relevant departments of the prefabricated food industry in many cities and several cold chain logistics enterprises, visited REFIRE Group, an upstream hydrogen technology enterprise in Shanghai, and conducted an in-depth “Shanghai-Henan Dialogue” on the green development of cold chain logistics.

As the main product form of prefabricated food, refrigerated and frozen food requires the guarantee of cold chain throughout the process of storage and transportation to ensure its high fidelity, quality and safety. As the application of new energy represented by hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the cold chain logistics industry booms, cold chain logistics is expected to usher in zero-carbon and efficient green transformation, working as a problem-solver in the storage and transportation process of prefabricated food, and an enabler of high-quality and green development of prefabricated food industry in China.

Featuring safe delivery of prefabricated food throughout the process, hydrogen cold chain logistics has produced good results in Henan. By the end of 2022, 100 Yutong hydrogen logistics vehicles powered by REFIRE fuel cell system were officially delivered to Henan Dahai Four Seasons Cold Chain Logistics Co., Ltd. for operation, marking one of the largest-scale hydrogen cold chain logistics fleets put into commercial operation in China. With that, the hydrogen cold chain logistics line from Zhongyuan Four Seasons Aquatic Products Logistics Port, the largest aquatic and livestock trading market in central and western China, to Yuanyang Prefabricated Food Industrial Park was opened.

This batch of hydrogen cold chain logistics vehicles is powered by REFIRE fuel cell system featuring high integration and lightweight design, which maximizes the payload capacity of the cargo box. Based on a three-defense safety guarantee, the vehicle adopts hydrogen-electric-structure-function coupling safety technology, 24-hour all-time-domain safety monitoring technology, and traction control anti-skid technology to achieve all-round and all-scenario safe operation. The vehicle’s customized power system utilizes an adaptive energy management control strategy to achieve optimal power dynamic allocation and reduce the energy consumption of the entire vehicle.

Hydrogen cold chain logistics vehicles have gained popularity due to their shorter refueling times and longer cruising ranges. Mr. Li, a driver from Henan Dahe Four Seasons Cold Chain Logistics Co., Ltd., recently drove a hydrogen logistics vehicle for the first time and praised the driving experience. He noted that the vehicle strikes him as low noise, fast acceleration, and stable running without any jerking sensations. In addition, it only took 10-15 minutes to refuel the hydrogen, with driving mileage exceeding 300 kilometers.

Mr. Li drives the hydrogen logistics vehicle every day between the Zhongyuan Four Seasons Logistics Port and the Yuanyang Prefabricated Food Park, transporting products including imported yellow croaker, chicken, pork liver, sea products, livestock and poultry products, and frozen food. He noted that hydrogen vehicles are free from the restrictions of traditional freight truck traffic areas and can travel throughout the city 24 hours a day, which brings great convenience to the efficient distribution of food.

For the time being, the Zhongyuan Four Seasons Aquatic products Logistics Port is taking hydrogen cold chain logistics as a lead to move the park towards greater digitalization and green transformation. In less than a quarter, this batch of hydrogen cold chain logistics vehicles operated by Dahe Four Seasons Cold Chain Logistics Co., Ltd. has accumulated mileage of over 1 million kilometers and has gradually expanded to intercity cold chain logistics business in cities such as Xinxiang and Jiaozuo.

Chen Yaowen, the General Manager of Henan Dahe Four Seasons Cold Chain Logistics Co., Ltd., said that the current operation of the 100 hydrogen cold chain logistics vehicles is satisfying. The feedback on the driving experience from the drivers are inspiring, including safe delivery of product without breakdowns. Besides, they are impressed with the prompt after-sales service provided by REFIRE and Yutong.

“After investigation and operational comparison, we’ve concluded that hydrogen is currently the optimal solution to meet the operational needs of cold chain logistics vehicles. The Zhengzhou government requires all urban distribution vehicles to be new energy vehicles by 2025. Electric vehicles can not meet the demand in terms of endurance and economics, hence cold chain logistics has to resort to hydrogen. As one of the national fuel cell demonstration application city clusters, we can enjoy purchase and operation subsidies, and cold chain logistics can achieve cost savings and efficiency improvements while saving energy and protecting the environment,” Chen said. This year, greater efforts will be made to cooperate with the layout of hydrogen refueling stations and focus on achieving the full coverage of hydrogen cold chain logistics vehicles throughout Henan Province, gradually opening up hydrogen cold chain logistics lines for all prefabricated food parks within the province.

On January 14, 2023, “Develop cold chain food, snack food, and specialty functional food, and boost prefabricated food” were included in the Henan Government Work Report. On February 13, prefabricated food was first included in the No.1 Central Document. The release of a series of policies has paved the way for the development of the prefabricated food industry.

Zhao Jiabang, Secretary-General of the Cold Chain Branch of the Henan Logistics Association, said that the rapid development of prefabricated food relies on the support of an efficient and green logistics transportation system. The 14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Cold Chain Logistics states that efforts should be made to phase out high-emission refrigerated vehicles and encourage more new energy vehicles for cold chain logistics. The 14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Green Transportation issued by the Ministry of Transport also explicitly promotes the pilot application of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in such scenarios as intercity passenger transport, heavy-duty trucks, and cold chain logistics vehicles.

“Henan is a major agricultural and grain-producing province in China, with a sound foundation for the development of prefabricated food and cold chain logistics industry. The important direction for future transformation and development is greenization, represented by the application of hydrogen. The faster the development of cold chain logistics, the better the end-consumer consumption and safety quality of prefabricated food will be, and the two will mutually reinforce each other,” Zhao said.

He believes that, as hydrogen technology grows more mature and commercialized, the application of hydrogen technology in cold chain park energy storage and power generation, cold chain logistics vehicle transportation, and other scenarios will become widespread, making greater contributions to the high-quality development of the cold chain industry and prefabricated food industry.



Headquartered in Shanghai with a footprint spanning several global markets, REFIRE is the world’s leading deployer of commercial hydrogen fuel cell technologies. The company specialises in the design, testing, prototyping, application engineering, and production of electrolyser products and integrated fuel cell systems for buses, trucks, specialised vehicles, power machines, stationary power and decentralised grid power products.

As of 2023 Q1, REFIRE fuel cell technologies and products are powering over 4,200 fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) in daily use in 20+ cities around the globe. Combined vehicle mileage exceeds 145 million kilometres.

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