In a presentation focused on hydrocarbon technology at ATMOsphere America 2014, Eric MacGregor from Versatile Refrigeration International discussed the first installation in North America of a secondary refrigeration system using propylene (R1270) as the primary refrigerant. Already the system is proving successful, maintaining optimal temperature throughout the year and being praised by building operators for its ease of operation and the little amount of maintenance required.At the largest ever ATMOsphere event held in San Francisco, California, Eric MacGregor of Versatile Refrigeration International presented the case of the Auvil Fruit Company in Washington. Versatile Refrigeration installed two Frigadon packaged chillers equipped with hydrocarbon refrigerant R1270 (propylene) at the fruit company.
Versatile Refrigeration installs the first R1270 chiller in North America
Eric MacGregor, General Manager, Versatile Refrigeration International Inc focused his presentation on the first installation in North America of a secondary refrigeration system using R1270 as the primary refrigerant, at Auvil Fruit Co, Washington, USA. The chillers, designed to use hydrocarbon refrigerants (R290 and R1270), have higher efficiency and lower net weight charge. The project described by MacGregor comprises 11 controlled atmosphere (CA) rooms of various sizes, cooled from 32°F to – 37.9°F (0° to 3.3°C), and a package storage area at 33.8°F (1°C), designed to cool 15.4 million lbs (7500 tons) of apples. The building is loaded in 10 days with 86°F (30°C) apples, and pulled down to 33.8°F (1°C) for ten months. The system COP varies depending on the time of the year (high load in warm temperatures and low in cold temperatures).
The cooling is provided by twin 260kW Frigadon chillers, which cool the rooms via brine solution called Hycool, which circulates between the chillers and cooling coils in the rooms. In addition, the chillers are continuously monitored for any faults and are equipped with leak detecting sensors.
According to MacGregor, the building operators have reported that the system is simple and easy to operate, and requires less maintenance than the NH3 systems at Auvil’s other plants. The R1270-cooled AC rooms maintain excellent product quality with little water loss from the fruit.
Cooperation and training key to success
The key factors that ensured the successful completion of the project, were that Auvil Friot Co.:
- Worked with local partners
- Retained Intertek testing agency in order to obtain UL certification for the chillers
- Worked with Zurich, an underwriting specialist, and their local assessor to prove the safety and track record of the Frigadon equipment
- Provided training directly to the operating engineers responsible for building
Presenter Eric MacGregor owns Versatile Refrigeration International and Versatile Refrigeration USA, a company that specialises primarily in secondary refrigeration systems as well as controlled atmosphere systems for storage warehouses. Both companies also design, install and service custom refrigeration systems for land based aquaculture operations. Currently, VRI is one among few companies working on custom-built hydrocarbon chillers in North America.
For more than a decade, UK-based system manufacturer Frigadon has supplied the market with environmentally friendly chillers designed for use with refrigerant R1270 propylene. The company has made it its mission to reduce the cost to both business and the environment by creating sustainable solutions incorporating low carbon energy systems without using synthetic HFC refrigerants. The company has supplied chillers to numerous installations existing throughout the world.