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efrigeration is one of the more energy-intensive technologies used in domestic manufacturing operations – primarily food plants.

From an energy perspective, the trend in many food plants is toward processes that require more, not less, refrigeration, thereby escalating overall energy requirements. For example, food companies are responding to consumer demand by increasing the supply of frozen ready-to-cook entrees and sides. These products often require quick-freezing unit operations to maintain high product quality. Quick freezing unit operations are among the most energy-intensive in food plants, which increases the total energy required to produce a unit of finished product. Just as plant refrigeration processes are demanding more energy, plant operations professionals are pushing to reduce overall energy consumption in their manufacturing operations. Why? Because indications are that the future cost of energy will continue to rise. So it’s increasingly important for plants to improve operational efficiency to maintain a competitive marketplace advantage. These trends put pressure on plant operations staff to identify effective measures to level or reduce the energy consumption in manufacturing. Strategies for improving the efficiency of industrial refrigeration systems are available for all to adopt. Seemingly a simple order, improving energy efficiency in these systems is difficult for a number of reasons:
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and Elleson. Compressor + evaporator (kW/ton) • Industrial refrigeration systems are custom-engineered to meet a plant’s specific process needs. 6 No. Load down. You can expect your system’s compressor capacity to improve by 2. If your ammonia-based refrigeration system’s head pressure never falls below 125 psig. 2005 L = low.2 Variable speed Tspace=-20°F Nevap=7 TDdesign=8. 4 No. 2003 Cold Front Vol. Each is proven to work. 3 No. 5 No. 47 www. Energy efficiency improvement measures that require shutdown are difficult to implement.4 EEG Section 6. (2004). 2004 Cold Front Vol. Many plants operate their refrigeration systems with higher than necessary head (condensing) pressures. many plants can operate with considerably lower minimum head pressures..8 1.com . 2004 Cold Front Vol. B. 4. 1 EEG is the Industrial Refrigeration Energy Efficiency Guidebook. T. 3. IRC TechNote: 2002 EEG Section 5. You just need to evaluate them for implementation in your plant’s context. J. 3. 4 No.edu/?/newsletter.. Raise suction pressure/temperature If your plant uses evaporator pressure regulators on all of its loads.3. T. A useful guideline says you can expect the efficiency of your system’s compressors to improve by 1. it might make sense to raise your system’s suction pressure set point.PLANTSERVICES.EfficiEncy HVAC Table 1.2.6 50 60 70 80 Evaporator part-load ratio 90 100 1.4 Fixed speed Duty cycling 2. 1.0 Plant operations professionals are pushing to reduce overall energy consumption. The efficiency advantage of a variable-speed evaporator fan increases as the cooling load decreases. 2004 Cold Front Vol. Consider these 10 ideas aimed at improving industrial refrigeration system efficiency. This makes prescriptive energy conservation measures difficult to identify because each system is “one-of-a-kind. 2. M = medium and H = high. 4.1 Cold Front2 Vol.irc. Reindl. Efficiency increases depend on the starting point of your suction pressure increase.wisc.” • Food production facilities often require continuous refrigeration. efficiency up 2.5% for each degree F increase in saturated suction temperature. Although the ability to reduce a system’s head pressure is limited by ambient conditions. Jekel. September 2007 2.. plants’ operations staff are often risk-averse concerning any changes that might undermine their ability to provide “cold” to the production floor. 3. Cold Front Vol. 2006 EEG Section 6. 2 Cold Front is the IRC’s quarterly newsletter available at www.1 EEG Section 5. D.Summary of industrial refrigeration energy efficiency improvement opportunities Strategy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Energy efficiency opportunity Floating head pressure control Raise suction pressure VFD for evaporator fans VFD for compressors VFD for evaporative condenser fans Heat recovery (oil cooling) Improved compressor sequencing and capacity control Improve hot gas defrost dwell period Convert liquid injection oil cooling to external oil cooling Reduce parasitic loads Capital cost New L n/a L L L M L L M M Retrofit L L-M L-M H L M L-M L H M Operational risk L M L L L L L M M L Value H H M M L-M M M L-M M L For more information EEG1 Section 4.3% for each degree F in lower saturated condensing temperature (1°F is about 3 psig for ammonia). 4 No. you might have an opportunity to improve system efficiency. but improvements in the range of 2% for each degree F increase in saturated suction temperature are possible. Floating head pressure control Figure 1.2. • Because refrigeration uptime is crucial. IRC.4°F 2. S.

If you pursue a VFD project for condenser fans. Figure 1 illustrates the potential in a freezer application by showing the combined compressor and evaporator operating efficiency serving a -20°F space with an evaporator temperature difference of 8. and face velocity of air over the evaporator coil.PLANTSERVICES. Variable-frequency drives for evaporator fans Because most evaporators don’t operate at their design load 100% of the time. and others. Evaporator efficiency at part-load conditions can be improved in most systems by using variable-frequency drives (VFD) on evaporator fans. evaporator part-load ratio. 6. Variable-speed condenser fans In many cases. evaporator fan type. which makes the VFD option expensive. Variable-speed compressors Approach variable–speed refrigeration compressors with caution. minimum head-pressure set point. At most. The savings attributable to this technology depends on a number of factors including system suction pressure.EfficiEncy HVAC 3. Heat recovery at oil coolers It’s possible to recover heat from the discharge gas on high-stage compressors. Use the VFD compressor as a trim machine for capacity modulation. their capacity needs to be varied to meet instantaneous thermal loads.4°F. VFD condenser fans can yield operating costs savings of 2% to 3%. consider having only one variable-speed compressor per suction pressure level in the plant. condenser fan type. Note the increasing advantage of the VFD fan option over the fixed-speed fan option as the evaporator’s part-load ratio decreases. depending on a number of factors including: relationship of September 2007 www. install VFDs on every condenser fan and modulate their capacity equally to maximize energy savings and avoid liquid management problems on the system’s high side. Low-capacity operation with fixed speed fans is costly. 4.com 49 . However. a more effective option is to recover heat from oil-cooling Approach variable-speed drives for refrigeration compressors with caution. Compressors in these systems tend to be driven by a large-frame motor. 5. heat rejection capacity available to that required.

Manske (2000) estimated References: Manske.2 BHP/ton. its capacity decreases. Thesis. screw compressor efficiency decreases Establish a defrost sequence that avoids hot gas dwell times in excess of 15 minutes duration. Review your sequence of operation and minimize the time intervals at which individual machines operate at part-load ratios less than 70%. For example.S.T. The most widely used compressor technology in industrial refrigeration systems is the screw compressor.edu/?/or der (2004). a typical screw compressor operating at -20°F suction and 90°F condensing will have a fullload efficiency of about 2. Establish a defrost sequence that avoids hot gas dwell times in excess of 15 minutes duration and defrost individual evaporators only on an as-needed basis rather than defrosting on the basis of a time-clock. (2000).8 BHP/ton. Industrial Refrigeration Consortium. K.irc.. The heat available from oil cooling heat exchangers is available in reasonable quantities and at a higher temperature when compared to the heat available for recovery from the discharge gas stream. 7. Using high-pressure liquid refrigerant for oil cooling is common Controls are required to match compressor capacity to system demand. the horsepower per ton requirement increases to about 8.. al. which decreases system efficiency. 9. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Compressor sequencing and control that poor hot-gas defrost sequences and controls accounted for 13% of the electrical energy consumption in a cold storage warehouse. “Performance Optimization of Industrial Refrigeration Systems. 8.com 51 . Industrial Refrigeration Energy Efficiency Guidebook. September 2007 www. as it unloads in response to decreasing demand.wisc. Improve defrost sequences Air-cooling evaporators that operate at low temperatures will accumulate frost. D. Unfortunately. Convert from liquid-injected oil cooling to external cooling Screw compressors require some means of oil cooling.PLANTSERVICES.” M. et.. When unloaded to its minimum capacity (10% in this case). www. Reindl.EfficiEncy HVAC heat exchangers on screw compressor packages. As the coil ices up.

Attending to failed insulation.irc. Douglas T. Converting from liquid injection to external oil coolers can yield savings in the range of 3% to 10%. P. More resources at www. Find and fix them.PlantServices.edu and (608) 262-6381. open doors and oversized conveyor openings are examples of easy fixes that reduce the heat gains that rob your system of both capacity and efficiency. inadequate door seals. you’ll need to evaluate each of these suggestions in the context of an individual system. Past issues of the Cold Front are available for download at: www. Ph.com using the keywords condenser. search www. September 2007 www. evaluating and implementing energy efficiency improvements at your plant isn’t only enjoyable.EfficiEncy HVAC in a number of systems. it’s rewarding. evaporator and refrigeration. Visual inspections and more sophisticated thermal imaging can pinpoint these hot spots. operational risk and overall value. Get more information In 2004.com 53 .com/thismonth 12 point checklist – “The path to superior chiller performance” Chiller selection – “Evaluating chillers” Starter controls – “Choosing a screw chiller for all occasions” Ammonia refrigerants – “The case for ammonia refrigeration” Chiller tips – “10 tips for improving chiller efficiency” Ammonia management – “Chill out and be safe” Speaking finance – “Selling your HVAC project” For more. Seeking out. Table 1 rates the 10 opportunities qualitatively (low-medium-high) and by their capital cost (both new and retrofit). the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium (IRC) published the Industrial Refrigeration Energy Efficiency Guidebook that covers these and other energy-efficiency improvement strategies for industrial refrigeration systems. Cold Front..edu/?/newsletter.PlantServices.PLANTSERVICES. is professor and director of the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Reindl. Liquid-injection oil cooling conspires to reduce the system’s efficiency because it increases compressor power requirements and reduces capacity. 10.wisc.E.D. Contact him at dreindl@wisc. Of course. In addition. Converting from liquid injection to external (thermosiphon or fluid-cooled) oil coolers can yield savings in the range of 3% to 10%.. Reduce parasitic loads Look for opportunities to eliminate the heat leaks into your system. the IRC has published several energy-efficiency improvement-related articles in its quarterly newsletter.