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Chilled Drinking Water During Animal Transport

On long-distance livestock transports, the continuous supply of drinking water for the animals is mandatory. In hot climates, however, the water supplies are heating up too high for the animals to drink. A high-efficiency, robust cooling solution from AMS Technologies helps to keep the water at the right temperature.

As soon as pigs or cattle are ready for slaughter, large special transporters usually collect the animals from local farms scattered all over the country and drive them in large numbers on the road over sometimes very long distances to large, central slaughterhouses. For commercial reasons it is not uncommon for these transports to take place even across national borders, with distances of several thousand kilometers and a duration that could exceed 24 hours.

An EU regulation specifies that the animals must have access to drinking water at all times during such transport – a storage tank with a capacity of 1.5% of the net loading capacity is mandatory. The Italian company Pezzaioli, the leading European manufacturer of large-capacity special vehicles for livestock transportation, has installed a drinking water system in its trailers and semi-trailers comprising 500- or 750-litre tanks and pipes which supply drinkers distributed throughout the vehicle.

Too Warm to Drink

If the vehicle with the tanks stands in the blazing sun for a longer time or moves in a hot climate, the water supply heats up strongly. However, the animals do not drink water that is too warm, especially pigs are very sensitive here – and as a result, increased animal losses due to dehydration are likely to occur under such conditions. The situation can become particularly acute in countries such as Brazil, where air temperatures of +40 °C and more are the rule rather than the exception. So it's no wonder that Pezzaioli received a request from Brazil to find a solution that would keep the drinking water in the vehicle at a temperature acceptable to the animals.

For a long time Pezzaioli has been supplying diesel warming systems for its vehicles that heat up the drinking water when the ambient air temperature is too low – using a heat exchanger in the drinking water circuit. A pump circulates the drinking water through the tank, the heat exchanger and a ring-topology piping system that feeds the drinkers. In this way, not only is the tank content kept constantly at the required temperature, but the water in the piping system is continuously kept flowing and well-tempered. The new cooling solution for the drinking water – an absolute novelty in the market for livestock transport – should also work according to this principle.

High Performance with Limited Power Consumption

For the design and development of the cooling system, the Pezzaioli engineers turned to AMS Technologies whose thermal management specialists proposed the basic structure and worked out the detailed specifications together with their Pezzaioli contact persons. An important requirement for the cooling solution, for example, was not to overburden the 24 V vehicle electrical system and therefore to limit the system’s power consumption. In addition, the system had to run very reliably in long-term operation with as little service effort as possible.

With 1350 W cooling power, AMS Technologies' solution, based on a compact, high-performance rotary compressor with plate heat exchanger and aluminium-copper tube condenser, keeps drinking water at the right temperature

The custom cooling solution designed by AMS Technologies is based on a compact, high-performance rotary compressor in a closed vapor compression circuit with an aluminium-finned copper tube heat exchanger cooled by forced convection as condenser and a stainless-steel plate heat exchanger as evaporator and interface to the customer's drinking water circuit. This high-efficiency, robust system features a cooling capacity of about 1350 W.

Following the development and design of the system components, AMS Technologies' Thermal Design Center in Poland manufactured the first prototype, which was put into operation in a setup with tank and pipes at the Pezzaioli plant in Italy and subjected to extensive tests. It could be shown that this test arrangement was capable of cooling 100 liters of water from +40 °C to +20 °C in less than two hours. After several weeks of testing with consistently positive results, the decision was made to transport the prototype to Brazil and install it there in a vehicle for extensive on-the-road tests under real life conditions.

Dr. Ing. Arnaldo Ghilardi, Technical Director at Pezzaioli, in front of a special semitrailer for livestock transport – the two water tanks are clearly visible at the vehicle’s front under a sheet metal cover

According to Dr. Arnaldo Ghilardi, Technical Director at Pezzaioli, the Brazilian customer had very positive experiences with cooling the drinking water: "As the animals normally don't drink while driving but rather during breaks, the cooling system runs continuously along the way, permanently cooling down the water. The system’s performance therefore depends on the length of the transport, the number of breaks, the ambient temperature and other parameters, so it is hardly possible to make a quantitative statement about the effects. However, we are sure that the water, which in Brazil has been heating up to well over +40 °C under certain conditions, can be kept well below +30 °C with this cooling solution and thus within a drinkable range."

On the Way to Series Production

Meanwhile the customer requested an offer for further cooling units, so the teams from Pezzaioli and AMS Technologies are now working on the further development of the system for series production. And Dr. Ghilardi is convinced that this new technology can offer advantages also in Europe: with less stress and access to temperature-controlled water during the long transports, the animals lose less weight and the meat quality is higher – which can be translated directly into more profit for European meat producers and the transport industry.

"We were and are more than satisfied with the services of AMS Technologies, the deep technical know-how and the implementation in concrete solutions", says Dr. Ghilardi, "for potential new customers we can and will therefore clearly recommend AMS Technologies as a competent solutions provider".