Tholen – Many companies have for a long time been looking for an improvement in energy consumption for economic and ecological reasons. With the sharply rising gas and electricity prices and the desire to become independent of Russian gas, we as a society are not only turning our attention to other energy sources, but also to more efficiency in our energy consumption. The same is true of food processors.
Equans Refrigeration is involved in the design, delivery and maintenance of refrigeration systems and heat pump systems. Among other things, Equans has developed various systems that provide grip on moisture regulation and condensation, without using the outdoor air to exclude hygienic risks. For the synthetic refrigerants with high GWP (Global Warming Potential), which are banned in new refrigeration systems, the company also offers safe applications via natural refrigerants.
The efficiency could be much better
In addition, increasing emphasis is being placed on sustainable and energy-efficient processes. “We’re pretty busy,” says Edwin ter Haar in the May issue of the trade magazine Primeur. “We are increasingly being asked by customers whether their installations are running efficiently enough. For it is indeed there that the shoe squeezes. There is certainly still a lot of efficiency to be achieved in the field of energy. Those who were not so preoccupied with this in the past will now be forced to do so by current energy prices. Where companies used to pay 4 øre per kilowatt hour, they now have to cough up 40 øre. If you are not efficient, it will no longer be sustainable. ”
Focus on residual heat
To save energy, you can focus on using the residual heat from the cooling installations. “The customer is not quick to make the connection between the cooling installation and energy savings. Technical service providers should point this out. It is often the case that the customer comes with a request for storage or processing and we come up with the cooling solution. A complete energy scan of the entire company is not an unnecessary luxury. Of course, what the customer primarily wants must be worked out, but in addition, it can be stated how they can save energy. For example, waste heat streams can be collected in a heat buffer. With an additional compressor on the cooling installation and the use of a heat pump system, this low-temperature residual heat can be raised to a temperature level of 60 degrees, but also to 80 degrees and higher. The company can then use this for other processes such as blanching and pasteurization of products. ”
Numerous heat recovery applications
“It’s a shame just to let the residual heat go to waste, both for the environment and for the wallet of the food processing company in question. The residual heat can be used in food processing processes. In this way, product quality can be guaranteed and hygiene can be improved by keeping the temperature constant in the various production areas. Frozen products can be thawed in a controlled manner or the cleaning water can be brought to the desired temperature. But the residual heat can also be used to heat the office or, if the company can no longer use the recycled heat itself, to supply it to other companies or housing associations in the area. We also have a project like this underway. ”
More and more companies are succeeding in getting rid of gas completely …
Recently, Equans provided a technical installation at cheese retailer Grozette. “Large blocks of cheese are cut and processed into cheese powder, among other things. For this, drying tunnels are needed. The powder is a semi-finished product for other products, but you can also find it in the store in bags. The process is very energy intensive. The technical installation for Grozette is designed in such a way that the company is now free of gas and saves a lot of money on energy costs. ” Other processors, e.g. onions, also want to reduce their CO2 footprint by eliminating the use of gas. A few years ago, Equans also supplied the refrigeration installation in the new building at the vegetable cutter Heemskerk in Rijnsburg. An appropriate solution is devised for each specific question.
… Or to become completely energy neutral
A number of large companies in the Netherlands are already energy neutral, for example by using their own wind turbines or solar parks. “Like Equans, we are well equipped to also lend a helping hand in that area, because our sister companies can supply the turbines and solar panels. Of course, it is not a given for everyone to become energy neutral and / or to get rid of gas completely, at least not at the moment. A general problem in the Netherlands is that the cabling to the electricity grid is too tight. Because gas independence also means more electricity. “
However, the road is still long
According to Edwin, we know what to do to save energy, but the Netherlands currently lacks the time, capacity and manpower to do so. “We do what we can and we get there, but it is not immediately until tomorrow. However, we can already take many steps now. We just have to be wise about the possibilities. For example, it is often a question of smart buffering. A company that has a refrigeration installation can run it at full speed at night during the low season. The residual heat from that process can then be converted into hot water, which is used during the day to heat the office room. And if this does not cover the total heat demand, the energy can also be produced sustainably with, for example, a heat pump. With many of these systems, a payback period is already possible within three years, ”concludes Edwin.
This article has previously been published in Issue 5, Volume 36 by Primeur. See www.agfprimeur.nl.
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Edwin te Haar