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21 January 2022
Food logistics – too much energy bills? Future trends that need to be implemented today

Listen to the whole thing below.

As I mentioned in previous columns, the very fact of moving away from F-gases and switching to CO2 is a technological revolution. A revolution that allows you to save from 20 to over 50% of the electricity used by refrigeration. However, this is not the end. The drastic change in the entire market resulting from COVID restrictions, abrupt increases in electricity and gas costs, and less and less qualified refrigeration technicians mean that technologies that used to be just theory, tomorrow … today must appear in specific implementations.

  • Following the trail of energy savings, cogeneration, or more precisely polygeneration, should be mentioned first. This technology consists in the production of own electricity by cogeneration modules, most often powered by gas. As waste, there is heat from cooling the engine block and exhaust gases. This waste should be directed to an absorption chiller (MAYA), which, properly connected to the refrigeration system, will support it, increasing energy efficiency to previously unprecedented values. We have already designed such facilities and they are under construction. The average yearly COP of the refrigeration system (MT and LT) will be close to 5!

  • Further in the topic of energy savings -> Defrosting and heating the floor with hot glycol. As a general guideline, MT coolers have defrost heaters with electrical power equal to 25% of cooling power and LT coolers equal to 100% cooling power. These heaters (usually) work four times a day for about 30 minutes. For the previously considered system MT = 1000 kW and LT = 200 kW, this gives a daily energy consumption of 900 kWh and an annual cost of PLN 300,000 for defrost alone! Replacing electric defrost with glycol therefore has two advantages; drastic reduction in energy consumption and much greater efficiency.

  • Intelligent control systems such as those provided by DIGITEL. The first and basic task of such a system is to regulate all elements of the refrigeration system. The artificial intelligence functions will “learn” the operation of your refrigeration system over time and when it deviates from the optimum (fault, frosting, etc.) it will automatically inform the staff. This will prevent prolonged fault operation or excessive power consumption. A modern control system should also automatically communicate with the staff via a phone or e-mail application. A more intelligent and better connected control system will reduce the number of service interventions requiring the arrival of the service.

  • Large installations have the potential to produce heat. As a general rule, the amount of heat is 25% greater than the instantaneous need for cooling. This means that each megawatt of cooling capacity can heat 250 single-family homes. For a 1000 kW system operating continuously, the value of heat recovery is PLN 2.6 million per year! However, you should be aware that refrigeration systems for logistics do not work at full load all year round. I am waiting for an implementation in which the refrigeration system operator will sell heat to the municipal network. We can calculate the profitability of such solutions very precisely.
  • There is also a trend of the future – non-technical, and it consists in implementing a company organization that allows the use of new technologies. The cycle of events that leads to the successful implementation of modern refrigeration and large energy savings is not so much long or difficult as it is different from the purchasing processes implemented so far. Many of the technologies described above are new and thus, the Customer may not know about them. The installer may not know about them. Technically, they are uncomplicated, but they require a slightly different approach to estimating the cost of life of an object. I mentioned the consequences of careless implementation of innovations in an earlier column. As a purchasing specialist who is particularly sensitive to energy savings, I can recommend Artur Fydryszek, who also runs the blog Our column on buying economical refrigeration will be published there soon.

As a consultant, I participate in projects in which the above-mentioned technologies are already commercially implemented.
So the question arises whether we are really talking about technologies of the future.