Industrial refrigeration provides cooling for large scale processes. Ammonia systems are a well established solution for industrial refrigeration due to their superior energy efficiency and ability to chill to very low temperatures.
Ammonia has been used in the industrial refrigeration market for many decades. Recently developed low change ammonia systems are helping to address safety concerns. Propane and carbon dioxide are also used for cold storage applications with popularity increasing for cascade systems using carbon dioxide and ammonia.
Zipf Brewery Facility
Zipf Brewery Facility
KWN Engineering - Gesellschaft
The Zipf Brewery in Austria relies on an ammonia plant with slurry ice as coolant for its refrigeration needs. The retrofit was realized by the Austrian company, KWN Engineering GmbH. The existing refrigeration system was kept, but the coolant cycle as well as part of the ammonia pump system was replaced with slurry ice, a mix of ice, refrigerants, and anti-corrosives. Most of the existing pipelines were kept, as were the heat exchangers on the beer tanks and in the refrigeration rooms. New installations included two 230 kW ice generators and air coolers supplied by Guntner. A 110m³ silo with a refrigeration capacity of 2,800 kW was added to serve as an ice bank.
The return on investment of the system was less than 3 years, with total recorded energy savings of US$ 109,710.96 per year since 2012.
In 2012, the Westhills Recreation Centre in Langford, British Columbia was fitted with an ammonia-based system to provide cooling for its indoor and outdoor ice rink, in addition to further recreational space and 10,000ft2 of leased office space. The installation was funded by a U.S. $9 million grant from the Building Canada Fund. The facility operates on 40% waste energy while the remaining 60% is pumped to a nearby housing development to be used as an energy source for household ammonia heat pumps.
Viandes Meats has installed an ammonia-based refrigeration system to replace an R-22 refrigeration system which was destroyed by a fire at the plant. The new system has a capacity of 2,500,000 kW, while also providing 1,327 kW of heat. It features 1 spiral freezer operating at -40°C (-40°F), 5 blast freezers operating between -40°C and -23.3°C (-40°F to -10°F), 1 freezer operating at -23.3°C (-10°F), 24 medium temperature rooms operating between 2.22°C and 10°C (36°F to 50°F), and 4 hygienic preparation rooms operating at 2.22°C (36°F).The installation is reported to save 260 kW of hot water heating, 1200 kW of electric heat, and 62 kW of air conditioning and 200 kW of refrigeration.
Verbist owns several cattle breeding farms throughout Belgium and provides high-quality beef production. Every week, roughly 600 to 700 cattle are slaughtered in Izegem, Belgium and it is important that the cold chain is never interrupted during every step of the production. Axima Refrigeration designed a NH3 refrigeration unit with direct expansion (600 kW at -10°C). This system transfers liquid ammonia to the evaporators in the cold rooms. Inside the evaporator, the ammonia dissipates completely. Since there is no liquid separator, the compressor sucks in the vapors directly. The expansion valves are controlled by in-house developed software and ensure a meticulous distribution of the refrigerant, avoiding liquid slugging. Axima Refrigeration installed some 40 DX evaporators at Verbist, a unique concept in Europe. The advantages over a pump circulation system are the limited amount of refrigerant (as low as 25%) and the fact that there are no pumps or separators to install leading to less safety risks and a lower investment cost.
Unique Dairy Products is a major supplier of ice cream and milk products to McDonalds in South Africa. The Pretoria-based cooling facility uses ammonia to maintain strict temperature controls necessary for milk processing.
United States Cold Storage is pioneering a new CO2 refrigeration technology used in food storage facilities in Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The system uses ammonia and CO2 in a cascade system that allows for lower operating pressures and confines ammonia to the machine room only.
In 2011, Tesco Lotus opened its first fresh-food distribution center in Thailand running completely on ammonia as a refrigerant. Along with other energy saving measures, the new distribution center enables up to 32% savings of carbon emissions per square meter (approximately 1,600 tonnes of carbon emissions per year). It can handle more than 230,000 cases of fresh food per day from more than 450 vendors to serve its 34 million customers each month in more than 700 stores around the country. Tesco Lotus plans on applying these “green concept” measures to the other distribution centers it operates in Thailand.
In 2002, Target constructed an automated dry goods warehouse/distribution center in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After an extensive site search, Target chose to build immediately adjacent to the original facility, thus creating a distribution campus rather than a center. Completed in June 2009, this 430,000 sq-ft automated food distribution center features 400,000 square feet of cold storage cooled by state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system.
The North Haven Distribution Center in Conneticut is a facility consisting of a 500,000 sq-ft grocery warehouse and a 265,000 sq-ft meat warehouse. The North Haven Distribution Center is one of two refrigerated facilities utilized by Stop & Shop for the storage and distribution of products to almost 200 stores. Since many of these products must remain refrigerated, Stop & Shop operates a refrigeration system using anhydrous ammonia as the refrigerant. The Stop & Shop refrigeration system operates in a sequential mode based on the heat load. The heat load is determined by the material being moved into the warehouse and by the outside air temperature. As such, the process control parameters of greatest consequences are the temperature and pressure readings throughout the system.
The Readville Distribution Center in Massachusetts is a facility that consists of a 400,000 sq-ft grocery warehouse, a 200,000 sq-ft produce warehouse and a 100,000 sq-ft dairy commissary. It is one of two refrigerated facilities utilized by Stop & Shop for the storage and distribution of products to almost 200 stores. Since many of these products must remain refrigerated, Stop & Shop operates a single-stage refrigeration system using anhydrous ammonia as the refrigerant.
Sobeys Distribution Center
Sobeys Distribution Center
The combined effect of these features resulted in energy demands that were 55% less than a similarly sized refrigerated distribution centre in Quebec.
In 2008, Sobeys opened a 13,650 square-meter refrigerated distribution center in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. As the first refrigerated distribution centre in Canada to be built to LEED standards, it was nominated in 2009 for an Award of Excellence in Architecture by Ordre des Architectes du Quebec. The facility has since received gold level LEED certification.The distribution centre contains many unique and industry-leading design features. The refrigeration system uses 33% less refrigerant than conventional refrigeration systems. Heat from the refrigeration system is used to warm the office spaces in the winter. When determining the size of refrigeration system required for the facility, refrigeration calculations took into account the in-coming temperature of the product to be stored at the facility. The result was a smaller more energy efficient refrigeration system that leverages the products’ thermal mass to maintain the right building temperature. Ammonia coolant is used in the mechanical room, while glycol refrigerant circulates in the plant. In the event of a mechanical room ammonia leak, the ammonia can be vented without contributing to global warming. The combined effect of these features resulted in energy demands that were 55% less than a similarly sized refrigerated distribution centre in Quebec.
A GEA Refrigeration Technologies refrigeration system provided cooling for the 1,814m long bobsleigh track during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and is Russia’s first ammonia-based refrigeration plant for use in a sports facility.
In the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, the Belgian New Fruit Wharf (BNFW) processes approximately 3 million tons of fruit, making them the biggest global player in the overseas distribution of fruit. Axima Refrigeration designed the refrigeration unit (ammonia) for BNFW’s brand new and fully automated shipping area. Using an ammonia-based refrigerant system, the shipping area, which measures up to 32 meters high, is kept at a constant temperature year round and at a lower energy cost.
Roche Carolina Inc., a pharmaceutical company, is operating one of its manufacturing facilities in South Carolina with an ammonia-based refrigeration system. The system provides cooling to its laboratories and production facilities.
The Austrian market leader Recheis Teigwaren GmbH required conditioned storehouses, regular and deep-freeze storehouses, and a combined spiral/freezer-cooler for the manufacturing of filled fresh and frozen pastas, and to store the raw materials that go into them. The company required an economical and environmentally friendly refrigeration facility that complies with Austria’s F-Gases regulation. In order to furnish all of the cold energy demands without using HFCs, KWN Engineering-Gesellschaft mbH designed a refrigeration facility using ammonia. A CO2 cascade was additionally installed for the deep-freeze storehouse and the spiral freezer and cooler.
Muller Wiseman’s Bridgewater system in Somerset operates on an ammonia and glycol-based system to produce around 500 million liters of milk annually. Designed by Star Refrigeration, the system features floating head pressure control, inverter driven motors and economized screw compressors for greater energy efficiency and has a cooling capacity of over 3MW, whilst providing heat recovery for water and office cooling.
In 2010, the German retailer Lidl, which is part of the Schwarz Group, opened a new 33,200 sq-meter distribution center in Paderbom, Germany. The center uses CO2 and ammonia for low and medium temperature cooling.
Guinness Brewery in Dublin planned to increase its production volume of Guinness beer to twelve million barrels per year. Star Refrigeration extended the 5 MW system up to 8.9 MW. The refrigeration specialists installed six additional variable-speed-drive glycol pumps and increased the condenser capacity. The modernised system now has a refrigeration capacity of 8.9 MW at an evaporating temperature of -4.5°C, without noticeably increasing the ammonia refrigerant charge in the system.
The new production facilities of a German poultry producer, with a total floor space of approximately 5,000 m², were to be equipped with a number of different refrigeration and processing rooms. The spectrum of required temperatures extended from -30°C to 7°C. KÃ¤ltetechnik Dresen + Bremen built a three-stage ammonia refrigeration plant with a glycol cycle. Four screw compressors and one piston compressor were used to control the various temperature level requirements of the system, which was charged with 2,850 kg of ammonia. The deep-freeze warehouse and the shock-freeze rooms with a refrigeration output of 410 kW at -40°C are directly supplied with ammonia. An ethylene glycol cycle with a flow temperature of -12°C cools the production rooms (e.g. filleting, fresh storage and packaging rooms), and an integrated ventilation system with a total refrigeration output of 2,190 kW. In a spray-humidified chilling tunnel that is also linked into the cycle, roughly 9,000 chickens per hour are cooled down to a temperature of 2°C.
The Giant Distribution Centre in Carlisle, PA (owned by Ahold) operates on a two-temperature, single-stage, anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system. This refrigeration system is a liquid re-circulation system. Rotary screw and reciprocating compressors are used in the refrigeration system.
This facility was expanded to its current size in November 1999. In 2006, 4 additional banana rooms were added to the facility. The new banana rooms tie into the system and require the addition of 700 pounds of ammonia to maintain the manufacturers recommended safe operating pressure. The center has a total inventory of approximately 26,903 pounds of anhydrous ammonia in its refrigeration system.
In 2014, Golden State Foods, one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant suppliers, installed an ammonia/CO2 cascade system in its distribution centre in Illinois, USA. Using only natural refrigerants, the system is able to provide cooling down to 34°F (1.1°C) and freezing down to -10°F (-23.3°C) whilst maintaining higher energy efficiency savings than an HFC-based system.
A leading German confectionery manufacturer erected a new production building in Halle/Westphalia, Germany. Here Dresen + Bremen installed an ammonia based refrigerating plant for process refrigeration and air-conditioning. Process refrigeration is responsible for controlled heat removal during the production of chocolate, sweets, and fruit gums, and for cooling the machines. The focal element of the central plant consists of four frequency-controlled screw compressors. The consumers are supplied with refrigeration via two liquid circuits at temperatures between 5°C and 11°C. The process refrigeration circuit uses cold water, while the air-conditioning system works with a propylene glycol circuit.
In 2008, Fresh & Easy opened its Riverside Distribution Center in California, which is a 53,000 sq-ft building that serves as the meat and poultry processing and distribution center for its grocery stores in California. The two-stage pumped re-circulated ammonia system serves a multitude of 30-40°F processing rooms, -30°F spiral blast freezers, and other processing equipment via 53 evaporators, make-up air units, and 1,500 horsepower of screw compressors.
The building has a state-of-the-art Refrigeration Control System with remote monitoring capabilities, ammonia detection controls, refrigeration and defrost controls, and energy efficiency optimization strategies.
Edeka meat processing plant in Germany required a system consisting of refrigeration and deep-freeze rooms that would meet all technical requirements while remaining efficient and inexpensive. Johnson Controls Systems implemented a two-stage ammonia system involving screw compressors. It produces refrigeration output of 5,500 kW with a refrigerant charge of 10,000 kg. The cooling fluid piped through the processing rooms is ethylene glycol.
Drillieux is a Belgian fruit distributer. In 2011, Axima Refrigeration built for Drillieux eighteen new cold rooms with Ultra Low Oxygen (ULO) storage, with a total storage capacity of 5 million kilos. ULO means balancing the amount of oxygen, CO2 and the temperature, in order to shut down the ageing process. This allows for apples and pears to be stored during a whole year. Axima Refrigeration expanded the existing cooling system with NH3 as the sole refrigerant. Three new frequency controlled piston compressors were installed, lowering the energy consumption. Moreover, the sorting floor is heated thanks to the recuperation of the heat generated by the cooling system. Axima Refrigeration was responsible for the expansion of the system, installing new pipes and building the cold rooms.
Eastern Fisheries has installed an ammonia/CO2 cascade system in its processing line in one of its processing facilities in Bedford, Massachusetts. The plant, which will process up to 6,500lbs of scallops per hour, operates using an individually quick freezing application, on a closed-loop mechanical system.
In 2015, it was reported that as a result of the new installation, the complex had reduced its energy consumption by 33.4% and its heating expenses by 81% compared to the previous year, equating to a saving of US$ 257,000.
The Dollars-des-ormeaux Civic Centre in Montreal replaced its R-22 system with a CO2 transcritical refrigeration system that is capable of providing cooling for three ice rinks, while providing heat for two swimming pools, a library and a gym by way of heat recovery. Compared to the previous installation, the CO2 system also uses 60% less space and has reduced maintenance costs.
In July 2014, the Perth, UK-based ice rink reopened their ammonia-based refrigeration system complete with heat recovery, which was used to replace the old R-22 system. The new system is able to acheive a quicker pull-down, with a reduced chiller and heat pump capacity during peak hours, resulting in lower energy use.
In 2009, the Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize expanded its existing distribution centre in Zellik, Belgium with an additional 150,000m³ of loading and unloading bays and a warehouse. The new building consists of an automated warehouse with loading and unloading bays continuously refrigerated at a temperature between +1°C and +3°C. In order to make best use of the storage space, a technical corridor had to be installed above it to accommodate the refrigeration installation.The building is refrigerated by ammonia. As the volume of ammonia had to be limited to the machine room and the condensers the system uses secondary cooling medium such as glycol or CO2. Furthermore, the distribution center roof is equipped with 6,000 m² of photovoltaic cells that generate 306 MWh each year. The building is also insulated extremely well and 12,000m³ of water is recuperated in a reservoir each year.
Danone, the French dairy giant, operates a plant for manufacturing yogurt and cottage cheese in Northern France. The refrigeration system consists of liquid chilling units using ammonia, which supplies 400 m3/h of chilled water at 1°C. The chilled water is conducted to various consumers like cold stores and specific rooms through a piping network. As the demand for cold energy varies over the day, Axima Refrigeration supplied an ice storage tank that stores the extra cold energy and releases it again when demand is high.
Danone has relied on Axima Refrigeration as its refrigeration specialist, outside of France as well, for many years. In 2000, Axima has set-up an installation for a 8000 m² Danone production plant and distribution center in Rotselaar, Belgium. Throughout each phase of the production process, refrigeration is of the utmost importance: from the storage of the milk, the preparation of the drinks and the fruit to the bottling. There may not be a single interruption in the cold chain. The central unit using ammonia has a total capacity of 7 MW, controlling 3 different temperature levels throughout the plant.
Mirai claims that its units are 30% more energy efficient than similar systems.
In October 2019, Coolinn opened a cryogenic sauna using Mirai’s air cycle refrigeration unit. Cryogenic saunas, essentially very cold rooms, are used by athletes to recover from injury and for other health benefits. Mirai COLD units use air as the refrigerant in a one stage system to reach very low temperatures up to -110C. Ambient air is free, abundant, environmentally friendly, non-toxic and non–flammable, and there is no need for refilling – making it the ideal refrigerant. The Mirai Cryo uses nitrogen instead of air and can achieve temperatures from -130C to -160C. . Mirai Cold units can be used for biomedical storage, food storage, freeze drying food, industrial cooling and cryotherapy.
The Mirai COLD 15 air-cycle refrigeration machine won ‘Innovation of the Year’ at the Accelerate Magazine/Europe awards in October 2019.
Colruyt is a supermarket chain in Belgium with over 215 stores. For its new warehouses at Dassenveld in Halle, Axima Refrigeration built a refrigeration unit (ammonia/glycol) for various temperatures. Axima Refrigeration also installed a new ammonia-based and eco-friendly central refrigeration unit for Vlevico, Colruyt’s renewed meat plant. The plant reduced its CO2 emission by 1,602 tonnes, saving 371,000 Euros each year in energy costs. The heat released from the refrigeration unit is recaptured for the production of hot water. BESS study (Benchmarking and Energy Management Schemes in SMEs) declared Vlevico one of the most efficient and ecological meat processing companies in Europe.
Coca-Cola Belgium & Luxembourg Distribution Center
Coca-Cola Belgium & Luxembourg Distribution Center
Flooded Glycol Pump
Axima Refrigeration GDF Suez
Energy saving solutions such as frequency controlled compressors and fans save Coca-Cola roughly 25% in energy consumption.
Axima Refrigeration carried out an energy audit for the Coca-Cola Company, which included a measurement campaign, a technical inspection and an extensive report. This resulted in energy saving solutions such as frequency controlled compressors and fans that save Coca-Cola roughly 25% in energy consumption. Moreover, thanks to an optimal display control system, Coca-Cola can adapt the cold production to the demand. And by mapping the different temperature levels and energy flows, they can work at a higher global efficiency. The new refrigeration system installed for their Belgium and Luxembourg distribution center is ammonia-based and is a flooded-glycol pump circulation system with a capacity of 4000 kW.
CO2 refrigerant is being used to provide cooling at Bergen Harbour’s Ship Terminal in Norway, previously cooled by an R-22 system. The UNESCO World Heritage site uses the refrigerant to provide cooling for 44,132ft2 of chilling and freezing areas, located on the mezzanine on the landsides for cargo from the ships. Heat waste from the systems is then recovered to provide heating in the terminal and offices.
Axima Refrigeration has developed an advanced ammonia cooling system for the Belgian Ice cream Group (BIG). BIG, as an ice cream manufacturer, is part of an industry that relies on superior cooling. Following pasteurization and homogenization, a mixture of cream, sugar and other ingredients is frozen and beaten up to ice cream in continuous freezers. The finished products, from cones and desserts to sorbets are sent to ducts for ultra fast freezing, after which they are packed. They are then placed in freezer storage (over 90,000 m²) at a constant temperature of -30°C. Axima Refrigeration was the first in Belgium to use a Powerdrive frequency converter with a permanent magnet synchronous motor during the installation of a new screw compressor at BIG, giving 10% better energy efficiency.
Beginning in 2002, the British supermarket chain ASDA had Star Refrigeration replace all refrigeration units that use the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) R-22 at its distribution centres as part of a long-term modernization program. Star Refrigeration designed an ammonia/CO2 cascade system. At one of ASDA’s major distribution centers in Lutterworth, UK, the refrigeration system provides efficient refrigeration for the 270,000 m³ premises. Areas requiring refrigeration are: a frozen food cold store at -25°C and several chill rooms at temperatures between 1°C and 13°C. The chill rooms are cooled with carbon dioxide as a volatile secondary refrigerant.
Depending on the application, Hillphoenix, who manufactured the system, report that energy savings of its CO2 transcritical systems can be up to 90% greater than conventional systems.
In January 2015, the first ice rink running on a CO2 transcritical system in the U.S.A. was opened in Anchorage, Alaska. The system is expected to generate the company energy savings of 25-40% and significantly reduce the total spent on refrigerant.
Abbott, a pharmaceutical and healthcare producer, is operating an ammonia-based system to help cool produce at its manufacturing site in Arizona. The cooling system is used to produce a range of products including infant formula and adult medical nutritional produce.
Alfa Laval / Bitzer / Carel / ESK Schultze / Guntner / Sibata Welding Construction Co.
Sibata Welding Construction Co. a Japanese manufacturer has developed a transcritical CO2 system for cold storage and logistics facilities. The ‘Naturale series’, is available in low and medium operating temperature ranges: -15°C to -50°C and +10°C to -25°C. The system is also available in either air-cooled or water-cooled configurations and feature heat reclaim as an option. The first system will be supplied at the end of March 2018 to a local contractor for “research and development purposes”. Overseas component suppliers Carel, Bitzer, ESK Schultze, Alfa Laval, and Guntner, among others contributed to the manufacturing of the ‘Naturale series’.
Mirai claims that its units are 30% more energy efficient than similar systems.
Mirai COLD units use air as the refrigerant in a one stage system to reach very low temperatures up to -110C. Mirai Cold units can be used for biomedical storage, food storage, freeze drying food, industrial cooling and cryotherapy.
M & M Refrigeration, based in Maryland USA, is a worldwide supplier of industrial refrigeration systems and controls. The company produces ammonia/CO2 cascade refrigeration systems for cold storage warehouses, industrial blast freezing and food processing. M & M has installed several ammonia/CO2 cascade systems in the US as well as other countries and reports a steady growth in market interest in the system. In conversations with Greenpeace, M & M Refrigeration reported significant energy savings with the ammonia/CO2 cascade systems compared to similar conventional ammonia systems. M & M also installs ammonia/calcium chloride systems for ice rinks.
Star Refrigeration have designed a range of eco-friendly industrial CO2 packaged solutions to provide a high performance, resilient and a long term solution for smaller scale industrial applications for temperature controlled storage, food and drink manufacturing, inline freezing and chilling, building services, industrial processes, data centres and leisure and ice applications. Envichiller: single stage transcritical plant for chiller applications suitable for a range of chiller temperatures
Star Refrigeration have designed a range of eco-friendly industrial CO2 packaged solutions to provide a high performance, resilient and a long term solution for smaller scale industrial applications for temperature controlled storage, food and drink manufacturing, inline freezing and chilling, building services, industrial processes, data centres and leisure and ice applications. Envifreeze: two stage transcritical plant for food production and temperature controlled storage applications suitable for temperatures between – 40°C and -20°C
Star Refrigeration have designed a range of eco-friendly industrial CO2 packaged solutions to provide a high performance, resilient and a long term solution for smaller scale industrial applications for temperature controlled storage, food and drink manufacturing, inline freezing and chilling, building services, industrial processes, data centres and leisure and ice applications. Envicold: single stage transcritical plant for temperature controlled storage applications suitable for temperatures between -22°C and 0°C
Star Refrigeration have designed a range of eco-friendly industrial CO2 packaged solutions to provide a high performance, resilient and a long term solution for smaller scale industrial applications for temperature controlled storage, food and drink manufacturing, inline freezing and chilling, building services, industrial processes, data centres and leisure and ice applications. Envichill: single stage transcritical plant for temperature controlled storage applications suitable for temperatures between 0°C and 8°C