Refrigerator truck

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G-3 Resources LLC Truck
Articulated lorry with refrigerated trailer

A refrigerator truck or chiller lorry (also called a reefer), is a van or truck designed to carry perishable freight at low temperatures. Most long-distance refrigerated transport by truck is done in articulated trucks pulling refrigerated hardside (box) semi-trailers, although insulated curtainsiders are common in some countries. Occasionally, refrigerated trailers have been used as temporary morgues,[1] and second-hand refrigerated trailers are frequently sold for use in tiny home conversions due to their insulation and existing status as a vehicle.[citation needed]

Cadavers being loaded into a trailer


The first successful mechanically refrigerated trucks were made for the ice cream industry in 1925.[2] American inventor Frederick McKinley Jones is known to be the first person to invent a refrigerated truck. There were around 4 million refrigerated road vehicles in use in 2010 worldwide.[3]


Like refrigerator cars, refrigerated trucks differ from simple insulated and ventilated vans (commonly used for transporting fruit), neither of which are fitted with cooling apparatus.

Refrigerator trucks can be ice-cooled, equipped with any one of a variety of mechanical refrigeration systems powered by small displacement diesel engines, or utilize carbon dioxide (either as dry ice or in liquid form) as a cooling agent. They are often equipped with small "vent doors" at the rear and front of the trailer. The purpose of these doors is to be kept open while hauling non-refrigerated cargo (often "backhaul"), so as to air out the trailer.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Refrigerated trucks requested in Texas and Arizona as morgues fill up due to coronavirus deaths". CBS News. 15 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Chapter 30: Refrigerated Trucks and Trailers". The Refrigerating Data Book. American Society of Refrigerating Engineers. 1952. pp. 9–237. About 1925, the ice cream industry pioneered the first successful mechanically operated refrigerated trucks, which were operated by methyl chloride condensing units. A generator, driven by a gasoline engine, supplied the power for the compressor motor.
  3. ^ "6.2.2 Road Transport". 2010 Report of the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps Technical Options Committee (PDF) (Report). UNEP. February 2011. p. 94. ISBN 978-9966-20-002-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-07. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
  4. ^ "This Is What That Little Door On The Back Of Truck Trailers Is For". Jalopnik. 9 April 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-10.


  • Prentice, B. E., & Benell, D. (1992). "Determinants of empty returns by US refrigerated trucks: conjoint analysis approach". Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, 40(1), 109-127. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7976.1992.tb03680.x (abstract).

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