Refrigerator body powered by solar energy: Rinklin Naturkost's Antos

Vehicle & Technology

A bright idea.

Rinklin Naturkost supplies hundreds of shops and markets selling organic produce in south-west Germany. The family-run company resolutely aims to maintain a climate-friendly logistics process. The latest step in this is a CO₂-neutral warehouse facility and an Antos whose TBV Kühlfahrzeuge refrigerated body runs on solar energy.

500 suppliers deliver organic foods to the wholesaler. Regional produce with seals of approval from Bioland, Demeter and Naturland are the preferred choice.

An almost entirely cloud-free sky and blazing sunshine at the Kaiserstuhl mountain deep in Germany's south-west are the optimal conditions for Rinklin Naturkost's Antos truck! That's because the goods being chilling in the refrigerated body of the organic produce supplier's truck are kept cool by the sun's energy. Four photovoltaic modules cover the roof, reflecting the sun's rays. The cooling system obtains any additional energy required from the alternator of the Antos 2536 – a recent addition to the family firm's fleet in Eichstetten near Freiburg.


Yellow fleet. The 'Solar Antos' is the latest addition to Rinklin's 35-strong truck fleet. Rinklin supports body manufacturer TBV in the development of cooling systems powered by solar energy.
Yellow fleet. The 'Solar Antos' is the latest addition to Rinklin's 35-strong truck fleet. Rinklin supports body manufacturer TBV in the development of cooling systems powered by solar energy.
Great selection, quick delivery. Now in the third generation, the Rinklin family continues to offer organic produce – today, not only in an organic market with a great choice of products, but also predominantly as a wholesaler.
Great selection, quick delivery. Now in the third generation, the Rinklin family continues to offer organic produce – today, not only in an organic market with a great choice of products, but also predominantly as a wholesaler.
Each driver delivers to between eight and ten business customers on a daily basis.
Each driver delivers to between eight and ten business customers on a daily basis.

"As soon as the bodybuilder TBV showed us this technology, it became very clear that this was precisely the thing we needed!" says Jochen Rinklin. The 32-year-old manages the company together with his brothers Armin and Harald. The cooling system uses only the energy stored in the battery either from the sun or obtained via the vehicle's alternator. Thus, it gets around having to use the previously usual solutions: an independent diesel engine or a power take-off. The result is that there is no additional consumption and CO₂ emissions! The battery which stores the energy also allows the full cooling power to be delivered for up to 30 minutes after having switched off the engine.

"That covers the time in which the truck is parked during a delivery." As is the case this lunchtime when the truck parks in front of the "Marktladen" store in Freiburg-Rieselfeld. Mothers and children, workers on their break, pensioners – many people know each other in the store and happily stop for a brief chat while placing cheese, salads or oranges in their shopping baskets in an almost passive way. So it's a good thing that the driver Oliver Redmann has turned up with his 'Solar Antos' and some extra supplies.



Organic food isn't just a hit in Rieselfeld: Rinklin Naturkost supplies more than 600 organic food shops, markets and restaurants with dairy produce, fruit, vegetables, drinks ranging from apple juice to wine, pastries or sandwich spreads, all certified organic. The range offered by the company which has since expanded to 250 employees now comprises almost 12,000 articles. The customers are located in the western part of the Baden-Württemberg region, the southern parts of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland region, as well as in the neighbouring Alsace region. 35 trucks, all from Mercedes-Benz and equipped with TBV refrigerated bodies, are in use six days of the week. Their average annual mileage lies at around 150,000 kilometres.



"We see protecting the environment as a self-evident aspect of the whole organic way of life," explains Jochen Rinklin. That's why the company uses the heat generated by their warehouse cooling systems in order to provide warm water. What's more, their electricity sockets also deliver green electricity. "A short while ago, we opened up another warehouse and used the opportunity to create a cooling system for the entire facility which doesn't use synthetic refrigerants. That means this location is CO₂-neutral." And the 'Solar Antos' improves that footprint even further!



TBV Kühlfahrzeuge.

TBV from Willstätt near Baden has around 40 years experience as a specialist in the development and manufacturing of refrigerated vehicles. The solar cooling system works independently of the engine and thus additional fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions are not an issue. On the vehicle itself, the system only needs to work together with the alternator. The energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries. A "Totally Green" refrigerant version is available, which is CFC-free. The company can deliver the system for refrigerated vehicles of all sizes, including for vehicles based on the Sprinter.


Photos: Henrik Morlock

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