Italian manufacturer Zudek’s air-cooled, low-charge ammonia (R717) chiller has proven to be more efficient than previously used HFC-based units at a Müller milk-production facility near Glasgow, U.K.
Zudek’s R717 chiller can reduce electrical consumption by 348,597.74kWh annually by replacing two HFC-based chiller units in the facility.
Details of the project were shared by Ivan Zudek, Partner at Zudek, and Mahmud Rahman, Head of Energy & Environment at German food manufacturer Müller, during their presentation at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe Summit on natural refrigerants. The conference took place September 19–20 in Brussels and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of Ammonia21.com.
Müller’s milk-and-ingredients, blow-molding (bottle-making) facility in Bellshill, Scotland, had two chiller units that used R134a as the refrigerant, with 79.4kg (175lbs) in each. The total cooling capacity was 894kW (254.2TR), with a European Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ESEER) of 3.21 at an average ambient temperature of 15°C (59°F), said Zudek.
The facility had an operating hours of 8,700 hours per year, but 3,400 hours were allocated for free cooling.
Free cooling is a technique used in HVAC systems that leverages environmental conditions, primarily outside air temperature, to cool buildings or industrial processes, thereby lowering energy consumption. This technique is often integrated with chiller units in commercial and industrial cooling systems.
“The HFC-based chiller was aging and had some technical issues with the working mechanism; hence we started assessing the performance and finally decided to replace it with Zudek’s R717 chiller unit, which uses less charge and is more efficient,” said Rahman.
The primary motivation behind the was the need to upgrade the reliability of the equipment, explained Rahman. The plan necessitated equipment replacement, ultimately aiming for a solution that was more efficient and environmentally responsible.
Although the actual cost would have been £100,000 (US$121,503) less by renovating the existing system, Müller chose to implement the R717 system for its efficiency, thereby unlocking the potential for some form of ROI opportunity. “This decision is particularly significant given that among our five operating sites using f-gas, this is the first blow-molding site converted to use natural refrigerants,” Rahman said. “We are convinced that this transition is a responsible and necessary step forward.”
Assessment of AIRMATIK chiller unit
Zudek highlighted that his company’s AIRMATIK chiller unit was the best option for the facility as it uses ammonia as a refrigerant and has a significant reduction in charge compared to previous installations – just 45kg (99.2lbs) for the cooling capacity of 810kW (230.32TR).
AIRMATIK chiller units have an ESEER of 5.2 operating at the same average ambient temperature and average condensing temperatures as an HFC-based system.
Since ammonia has a GWP of zero, the carbon emissions were reduced dramatically., The AIRMATIK chiller saved 19,781kg CO2e in just three months after installation in mid-June, said Zudek.
Following this outcome, the AIRMATIK chiller will mitigate CO2e emissions of 226,587.2kg (49,9538.7lbs) every year.
“Assessing the electrical consumption for three months in summer, the electrical consumption resulted in savings of 79,920kWh, which led to 38.3% cost savings of £20,979.84 (US$25,480.33),” said Zudek.
The savings and system efficiency could go even higher, but it was limited to this performance because it was the warmest summer ever noted on the site, he added.
Zudek reported that the system is provided with 24/7 Telematik remote support in case of emergencies at the site.
Rahman emphasized Müller is studying the performance of R134a-based sites in Manchester and Bridgewater, U.K. Both facilities will soon adopt natural refrigerants.
Zudek’s air-cooled, low-charge ammonia chiller has also improved the energy efficiency ratio of a cooling system at a pharmaceutical site in Belgium by 20% compared to its previous HFC-based unit.
“We are convinced that this transition is a responsible and necessary step forward.”Mahmud Rahman, Head of Energy & Environment at Müller