Actively cooled cold chain tote

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Phononic has launched a reusable tote with active cooling on board. The Intelligent Actively-Cooled Tote provides cooling and freezing of perishable goods while en-route to their final destination.


E-commerce grocery sales are driving cold chain investment across the industry, accelerated by the evolving needs of customers through the ongoing pandemic. Customers are demanding convenience and freshness, which is a challenge for a sector that sees US$100 billion in online grocery shopping requiring seamless ‘last mile’ execution​ and continued acceleration.

With over 50 percent of U.S. households projected to do all of their grocery shopping online within 10 years  and an estimated 60 percent increase over pre-pandemic dollar sales for the online grocery space over the next five years , grocers are ramping up cold chain operations as quickly as possible to meet the demand.

Phononic is currently working with three of the top 10 U.S. grocery retailers and automation partners for micro-fufillment centres (MFCs), with plans to expand globally.

Low carbon footprint

Unlike traditional compressor-based systems, Phononic’s solid-state technology has a low carbon footprint and does not use harmful global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Using just CO2 and water, Phononic’s system is also non-toxic and non-flammable, unlike other “natural” or low-GWP refrigerants currently in use – and eliminates the need for dry ice, gel packs or ice blocks.

The totes use wireless contact charging and are WiFi and IoT ready, offering real-time insight into cold chain automation.

The company claims the refrigerated boxes can help reduce capital costs by eliminating the need for three-zone storage and last-mile transport. It also means users can cool or freeze only the number of customer orders needed based on demand, rather than an entire cooler, warehouse or transport truck.

The ability to use the same style of tote for either frozen or chilled products also reduces order fulfillment complexity.