Convenience store refrigeration specialist DCI Refrigeration has launched a test plant and training facility for the greener refrigerant, CO2.
DCI has invested over £100,000 in the new facility, which combines a live convenience store and plant room plus a training room to provide ongoing monitoring and classroom learning opportunities.
Based in Portsmouth, it is claimed to be the only facility of its kind in the south of England and was opened by Phil Ponsonby, chief operating officer for The Southern Co-operative.
Ponsonby said the retailer was considering the use of CO2 refrigeration for its ‘green’ convenience stores.
“With increasing demand for efficient and environmentally friendly refrigerants, DCI has demonstrated CO2 offers perhaps the most viable solution, particularly in the food chain where demand for chilled and frozen food continues to grow,” said Ponsonby. “We are currently working with DCI to evaluate the use of CO2 for our eco-friendly neighbourhood stores.
DCI said its decision to invest in CO2 technology was in response to retailers’ needs to reduce carbon emissions. With the growing adoption of CO2 in many major operators’ supermarket sites, future roll-out across the UK’s convenience stores will follow shortly, it claimed.
DCI said it already produces products to meet the convenience market’s demands for lower operating noise and restricted space and its new CO2 developments enable it to combine these established solutions with greener refrigeration and climate control.
The technical bit
At the heart of the operation, a booster CO2 refrigeration pack drives approximately 5kW of low temperature cabinets and cold rooms at -30°C and 25kW of high/medium temperature applications at -6°C.
Specially-developed software provides a live pressure-enthalpy chart (graph of the pressure versus enthalpy or heat content) and 24-hour monitoring supplies data to enable ongoing improvements of efficiency and factors such as noise output.
Driven by its focus on an environmentally-friendly operation, DCI said it has ensured the system maximises the heat recovery benefits of a CO2 system. Despite functioning primarily for refrigeration, the system’s incorporated heat recovery potential
provides ample heat for the store and door curtains, radiators and a hot water storage tank to supply sinks. The system minimises energy wastage, it added.
According to DCI, the new facility provides an important resource for retailers keen to investigate the viability of CO2 for their operations.