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Industrial CO2 Refrigeration Project

09 February, 2006

CRF (Colac Otway) Pty Ltd, located in western Victoria, is a lamb and veal processing facility with about 300 employees processing an average of 6000 head per day. CRF products that require freezing are currently delivered to cold stores in Melbourne, but this process is costly and inefficient. CRF is investing more than $7 million to build its own local cold storage facility under an entity known as "Otway Fresh" to provide a more robust supply chain and reduce freight and storage costs. Otway Fresh will also provide cold storage for other businesses in the region.

Sustainable Victoria

Project Description
Sustainability Victoria is working with CRF on the implementation of an innovative, energy-efficient industrial refrigeration system to provide the freezing function for the cold storage facility. This involves specific funding and support for the construction of an automatic blast freezing tunnel.

The type of freezer was chosen on the basis of the sizes of product to be frozen and the throughput (volume) requirements. Blast tunnel freezing was chosen over plate freezing due to the variable size of product. The throughput requirements for the system are 3300 cartons per tunnel batch in 24 hours using an auto blast tunnel system.

The refrigeration system will use carbon-dioxide (CO2) as a refrigerant. With the phasing out of fluorocarbon chemicals (CFC, HCFC) due to their detrimental effects on the environment; ammonia is currently the dominant refrigerant for industrial refrigeration in Australia. The application of CO2 refrigeration within cold storage is becoming more widely used in Europe and America, however, Australian uptake has been very slow, with only one small cold storage facility in Queensland currently using CO2.

CRF has chosen CO2 as an alternative refrigerant to ammonia due to its availability, low cost; non-toxicity and non-flammability. CO2 also has significant safety advantages. The storage of large volumes of ammonia on a site is undesirable given the potential occupational health, safety and product contamination hazards resulting from a leak.

Sustainability Victoria’s involvement with the project encompasses the design, construction, installation, commissioning and performance monitoring of the CO2 refrigeration system for CRF’s new cold storage facility. This entailed a close working relationship with the project managers – MeatEng Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based company specialising in the design of refrigeration systems for the meat industry, as well as KAV Consulting and CRF. Victorian-based consultants were also engaged to work with these consultants and capture the learnings from the project. Consequently, these consultants will be capable of pursuing further carbon-dioxide refrigeration projects within Victoria.

The cold storage facility project began in early January 2005 and commenced operation in November 2005, employing 13 people.

Expected Outcomes

A feasibility study into the type of refrigerant to be used identified that a CO2 system would be up to 27% more energy efficient than an equivalent ammonia system over a 24 hour auto blast freezing cycle.

Additional benefits include a 90% reduction in the potential volume of ammonia to be stored on the site, resulting in a significantly reduced occupation health and safety and product contamination risk.

A reduction in the capital cost of refrigeration equipment when compared with a conventional ammonia system is also expected. The CO2 cold store is estimated to cost $200,000 less than the equivalent ammonia cold store due to the smaller sizing of equipment (piping and compressors) required for CO2 plants.

Otway Fresh expects an estimated energy saving of 2,300 GJ per annum with a reduction of 892 tonnes of greenhouse pollution per annum, which is the equivalent of removing 210 cars from Victorian roads.

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