UK: ACR Show seminar series highlights benefits of natural refrigerants

By Janaina Topley Lira, Mar 20, 2012, 00:00 4 minute reading

In a cutting edge seminar programme at the ACR Show representatives from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis Partnership and The Co-operative Group set out their businesses plans for sustainable HVAC&R solutions in a seminar entitled “Where now for supermarkets”. Organisers have confirmed that following the success of last week’s event, the show will become a regular biennial occurrence.

The ACR Show 2012 held in Birmingham’s NEC last week attracted over 100 exhibitors and many of the show's 30+ seminars attracted capacity crowds. Presentations by the UK's leading food retailers on their future plans were particularly well attended and provided shining examples of their stated commitment to achieving low carbon, low Global Warming Potential (GWP) HVAC&R solutions using natural refrigerants CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia.
Refrigeration heat recovery system at Marks & Spencer store reduces carbon output by 23%
Bob Arthur, Refrigeration Technologist Marks & Spencer talked about the lessons learnt from the development and construction of the Ecclesall Road Sheffield Learning store, part of the M&S Plan A commitment to looking at the sustainable construction and to using selected sites as test beds for new technology. 
The target for the Sheffield learning store, which opened in March 2011, was that it should emit 20% less operational carbon. To achieve these targets various sustainable technologies were incorporated. The store uses M&S’s CO2 pumped distribution system for the sales floor, with the expelled heat from its refrigeration units used to heat the building, helping to reduce its carbon output by 23%. The CO2 is cooled by hydrocarbon packages, which are in turn cooled by hydrocarbon heat pumps. 
Ecclesall Road was the first 100% LED lit store in the UK. According to Mr Arthur, although the development the store incurred a 7-10% premium when looking at whole life costing these extra costs will be quickly recouped.
The Co-operative Estates, one of UK’s largest property operations, to be HFC free by 2030
Alex Pitman, Energy Manager, The Co-operative Group, began his presentation by providing an overview of the Group, which is one of the largest and most diverse land and property operations in the UK. As such, the Group buys energy for 11,000 buildings. 
The Co-op first started looking at energy efficiency in 2007, setting itself a tough 25% energy savings target by 2012. As a result the following energy efficient HVAC&R refit initiatives have been initiated:
  • The installation of three new carbon dioxide refrigeration systems across different stores;
  • All new stand-alone refrigeration units will run on hydrocarbons;
  • The trialling of hydrocarbon air conditioning systems in two stores, which, if successful, when combined with new in-store refrigeration systems, will allow stores to be wholly or in part HFC-free;
  • Redevelopment of The Co-op head office in Manchester, to be completed in 2012, will use natural refrigerants in all systems, including 400kW propane chillers.
“We have made a public commitment to getting rid of HFCs. Across the industry we all seem to be trying different approaches, with some very good work being done on CO2. We’re trialling a hydrocarbon-based approach in our Piccadilly store, which also has heat recovery. One of the benefits that we are exploring with this is to make the system interruptible. We have quote a lot of thermal mass in the system, so we would like to turn the fridges off at different times of the day and coast through the peak energy times,” said Alex Pitman.
John Lewis Partnership reduces refrigerant charge by 90%
Peter Terry, Head of Maintenance, John Lewis Partnerhsip gave seminar participants a brief overview of the corporation’s two trading divisions: John Lewis and Waitrose, and how refrigeration sits within the company. As a responsible retailer, the Partnership aims to use energy as efficiently as possible and reduce the impact of their refrigeration, setting itself a 50% reduction target for Waitrose's refrigeration and cooling direct CO2e emissions. 
After initial trials, Waitrose Altrincham, which opened in October 2009 was the first branch to utilise a new propane-based, water-cooled refrigeration system The system is made up of small factory built refrigeration display units connected to a water loop to remove heat, reducing the refrigerant charge, by volume, by 90%. All new and major refitted Waitrose branches utilise this award-winning approach, although in 2011 Waitrose started trialling the world’s first HFO chiller, working with the same team responsible for a number of the retailer’s hydrocarbon chillers. Industry is paying close attention to the results of this trial, which was highlighted at the Frascold stand.

As part of their investment in reducing the impact of refrigerationthe John Lewis Partnerhsip have also replaced some open upright freezers with cabinets with glass doors and installed flexible doors on all our walk-in coldrooms, or night blinds to retain cool air.


By Janaina Topley Lira

Mar 20, 2012, 00:00

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