GEA Grasso compressors in Chiquita CO2-neutral plant

By Silvia Scaldaferri, Jan 27, 2014, 12:33 2 minute reading

Two GEA Grasso reciprocating compressors employing ammonia (NH3) as the refrigerant are used in the world’s first CO2- neutral banana ripening facility, operating since 2011 by Chiquita Fresh Netherlands, in Gorinchem.

Consisting of 22 rooms of various sizes, the Gorinchem banana ripening facility is Chiquita’s first plant to operate CO2-neutral. GEA Refrigeration Technologies helped guide the construction of the refrigeration system, manufacturing and supplying 2 reciprocating compressors that operate in conjunction with the process control system. The design and execution of the refrigeration and ventilation system was made by the refrigeration contracting company De Laat Koudetechniek in Ammerzoden.

The decision to invest in the latest technology represents the banana-giant’s commitment to sustainable solutions leading to cost-effective solutions.

Total cooling capacity of 681kW

The refrigeration system is based on 2 GEA Grasso NH3 compressors, together with inverter controlled chillers and condensers, which obtain a total cooling capacity of 681kW. The ammonia liquid chillers run on reciprocating compressor models 610 and 410, and a plate heat exchanger as the evaporator. Other system specifications include a compact electronic control system and a patented airflow system, all of which contribute to efficiency gains.

Flexible refrigeration system

The highly flexible refrigeration system reacts in accordance with the quantity of fruit stored, as well as with its current ripening stage. Around 550 tonnes of fruit are stored and ripened per year at the Gorinchem facility, which is the equivalent of approximately 28,000 banana boxes.

4 °C cold water

The refrigeration system provides 4 °C cold water used to cool the ripening ambient temperature to between 11.0-16.6 °C. The water is pumped by way of a buffer tank to various roof air-coolers, provided by GEA Goedhard, into different rooms. Conversely, to heat the warehouse and office spaces, a heat-recovery system linked to the refrigeration installation is used.

Advanced banana ripening process

When bananas arrive to the facility the refrigeration system conditions them at a temperature of 13°C. The temperature is then raised in order to open the very pores of the fruit, at which point the ripening mixture (a mixture of atmospheric nitrogen and ethylene) is administered into the process. The patented reversible airflow system then distributes cold air evenly throughout the rooms, commencing from the ceiling and looping back by suction into the cooling unit. The total ripening process takes between 6-7 days.

About GEA Refrigeration Technologies

GEA Refrigeration Technologies, part of the internationally active GEA Group, has been a leader in industrial refrigeration technology since the end of the 19th century. Its business is predominantly focused in processes cooling of the food and beverage sector, as well as in the pharmaceutical and transport sectors.


By Silvia Scaldaferri

Jan 27, 2014, 12:33

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