WINDSOR, ONT. -- Nature Fresh Farms has joined the University of Windsor for its $160,000 long-haul transportation project aimed at developing new sustainable and energy efficient shipping options.

The project, spearheaded by by Dr. Rupp Carriveau, of the Environmental Energy Institute, and his associate Dr. Hanna Maoh, of the Cross Border Institute, and a number of graduate students aspires to determine the impact of long-haul electric vehicles (LHEV) on Ontario’s electric grid, a news release from Nature Fresh Farms says.

Researchers will create a model network by finding the most frequently travelled routes and then overlay the electric grid to determine how it would perform when managing a fleet of electric trucks.

The trucks will be battery operated and look, haul and perform similarly to diesel trucks, but with zero emissions. By using power from the electric grid, Nature Fresh Farms says the trucks would be able to both sustainably deliver goods and allow for electrons to be transferred to the grid at deliberate locations and times.

The team is developing partnerships in the industry to assist in various areas of the project.

“We needed a partner to help pilot our project and potentially test and Nature Fresh Farms came to mind,” Carriveau says. “They are a very progressive company and are calculated risk takers that push boundaries with new technologies.”

Nature Fresh Farms will assist the project with analytics and case studies by sending information from its operations including shipping schedules, power use and utility costs.

The data will be used to determine the strengths and weaknesses associated with converting its fleet to electric vehicles. The information will offer a look into the opportunities of electric trucks in the greenhouse industry, Nature Fresh Farms says.

“As an innovative company we are always thinking ‘what is next?’, whether its developments in product varieties, technology, or sustainability. Green transportation is the next big focus,” Nature Fresh Farms CEO, Peter Quiring says. “We were given the opportunity to work closely on this project and offer our operations as a case study to see how we can find feasible alternatives, not only for Nature Fresh Farms or even for companies in agriculture, but for every industry that relies on the transportation of their goods.”

The first step of the project includes working toward creating an electrical grid to manage a fleet of vehicles, while step two is a potential pilot study of developing and using electric long-haul trucks for the grid.