Cold storage giant Lineage Logistics LLC will produce 100% of its energy consumption on-site at a new refrigerated facility in California thanks to a mixture of solar panels and a new design of “linear generator” that creates low-emission electricity from natural gas, the company said last week.
Solar panels have become a common sight on the rooflines of “green” manufacturing and distribution operations in recent years, with examples like the industrial battery manufacturer Crown Battery, furniture maker Ashley Furniture Industries, material handling parts supplier TVH in the Americas, lift truck vendor The Raymond Corp., and industrial truck manufacturer and supply chain services provider Kion North America Corp.
However, Novi, Michigan-based Lineage plans to combine that photovoltaic approach with a natural gas-powered contraption that generates electricity mechanically—by shuttling a magnet between metal coils—while capping fossil fuel emissions. The system works by compressing the natural gas between two pistons until it creates a flameless, low-temperature reaction, according to Lineage’s energy expert, Jesse Tootell, senior manager, Energy Analytics.
Because the fuel never technically burns, it takes advantage of the scientific distinction between “burning” and “combustion” to create a rapid expansion that creates nearly zero nitrous oxide (NOx) and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Tootell said in an email. While Lineage currently uses natural gas for its linear generator, the machine is actually fuel agnostic, so the firm hopes to run it on biofuels or hydrogen in the future, once the country’s energy infrastructure provides alternative fuels.
The linear generator design was launched in March by a Menlo Park, California-based tech firm called Mainspring Energy that says its device is designed to help companies accelerate their transition to a net-zero carbon electric grid.
Lineage Logistics’ installation was installed in October at the company’s Colton Agua Mansa facility in Colton, California, part of the state’s Inland Empire region. That cold storage site combines a 3.3MW solar array with the 460kW linear generator, aligning with the company’s commitment to becoming net-zero carbon by 2040 as a signatory of The Climate Pledge.
“Commercial and industrial buildings account for more than a third of electricity usage in the United States and play an essential role in the energy transition,” Mainspring CEO Shannon Miller said in a release. “Mainspring designed the linear generator to accelerate this transition by delivering resilient, sustainable, and affordable generation that is also ideal for pairing with solar and other renewables. We are proud to partner with Lineage, an industry leader and pioneer in deploying innovative energy technologies.”
We're proud to introduce our first facility set to produce 100% of its energy consumption! A bold leap in our commitment to #TheClimatePledge as we live our purpose to transform the #supplychain to eliminate waste & feed the world: https://t.co/HfIimSWNH5 https://t.co/0TYOvHHwle— Lineage Logistics (@OneLineage) November 10, 2021