One of Europe’s leading suppliers of bananas, exotic fruits and vegetables partnered with Aermec when it came to maintaining its warehouse storage temperatures and drive the ripening process.
When the wholesaler moved to larger purpose-built facilities it took advantage of advances in ripening technology to invest in more sustainable cooling equipment for the storage and ripening of its fruit, particularly bananas.
Working closely with Irish distributor, Powertech Refrigeration, Aermec designed a high specification solution to address the customer’s needs.
“We successfully deliver turnkey solutions particularly across many industries including the dairy, meat, fruit & vegetable ripening, food processing and pharmaceutical Industries,” comments David Smyth, Director Powertech Refrigeration.
All of the customer’s products are fresh and the company strives to ensure that its business is in harmony with its environments. That same ethos was applied to the cooling plant supplied by Powertech and Aermec, resulting in chilled water and glycol systems based around energy efficient chillers.
Bananas are always harvested green, when they are hard, not sweet. Then they are transported to the storage and ripening facilities in Germany, where the priority is on maintaining their quality.
The bananas are palletised and placed either in storage or in the 24 ripening rooms.
The ripening process is dependant on three factors: maintaining the temperature at 13⁰C-14⁰C, managing the correct air flow through the banana ripening rooms and releasing Ethylene gas at the right time to begin the ripening process. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone and it determines the changes in texture, softening and colour of the fruit which becomes sweeter and softer as it ripens.
Bananas also release CO2 regularly, so this is expelled from the ripening environment at various stages throughout the ripening process. Aermec’s chillers are used in both the fruit storage and the ripening warehouse. The cooling systems use a secondary refrigerant circulated to the coolers within each room or area.
Two NRL simultaneous heat pump chillers supply the storage facility and three NRP simultaneous heat pump chillers supply the ripening rooms which are operational 24/7.
The NRL units are compact with scroll compressors, plate exchangers and axial fans. They deliver efficiencies even at partial loads and operate using R410a.
Aermec’s NRL chillers are a more advanced solution than the company’s original DX refrigeration systems in their previous building and the free cooling circuit further maximises energy efficiencies.
The NRP air to heat pump multi-purpose chillers features axial fans, high efficiency rotary scroll compressors, plate type exchangers with versions available for two or four pipe applications and operates on R410a.
Ripening room design parameters:
- Facility operating hours: 24/7
- Design ambient: +32°C dry bulb summer, -10°C winter (-25°C in extremis)
- Storage Pallett: Max. Height 2,400mm Bananas / 2,500mm general fruit, min. height 2050mm.
- Maximum pallet size: 1,200mm x 1,000mm
- The system is designed to have 25-year life span
The units were selected as there was a requirement to get the temperature of the water down to -6⁰C but they also offered a significant energy benefit – the hot water from the heat pumps is being used for defrosting the coolers in the chilled rooms and comfort cooling in the production areas.
Powertech provided a complete installation, including much of the pipework and valves. The pipe work comprises light gauge, hygienic stainless steel pipes. All valves are also hygienic stainless steel. Condensate drainage in the ripening rooms is PVC. Condensate drainage in the chill rooms, packing and marshalling areas is light gauge stainless steel. Time was saved by pre-manufacturing and delivering to site, ready to be fitted and commissioned.
“No other heat pump was as efficient, the NRP can provide 100% heating and 100% cooling and all points in between, not a lot of chillers can do that,” says David Smyth, Director at Powertech.
The entire project was completed in just under six months.