The global food and beverage industry is essential in sustaining the world’s population. However, it is highly energy-intensive, estimated to consume 30% of global energy and accounting for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. And, with the population forecast to reach 9 billion by 2050, food demand around the world is likely to grow by 50% in that time.
Within the industry, the refrigeration and cooling sector is responsible for ensuring that products are stored and transported at appropriate temperatures, helping prevent wastage. Refrigeration is required at all steps of production, from chilling and freezing in a factory to cold storage in a retail display. In a food plant, it can account for more than half of all electricity usage.
Rising temperatures increase energy demands
As the mean temperature in many countries increases, these applications will be more in demand, resulting in higher energy usage. However, because cooling systems use motors and drives, it is possible to control the temperature while avoiding wasted energy through the latest energy-efficient technology.
For example, in India, where the average annual temperature is expected to rise by 4°C by the end of the century, ABB’s customer Advance Techno Systems designs and manufactures industrial chillers that utilise the latest motors and drives.
“Our company slogan is Economy with Technical Excellence. This also relates to efficiency,” Vinod Limaye, Managing Director of ATS, says. “If you compare the very old technology with the new, by using various instruments and sensors, today we are achieving around 23% power savings.”
Generally, chillers comprise an expansion valve, an evaporator, a compressor, and a condenser. Motors and drives are used to push a refrigerant from the compressor through the condenser, and to pump water or air from there through the valve to the evaporator. Improving individual components in chillers is a good start.
“By analysing the energy usage of each part, we can achieve an overall reduction in energy usage,” says Limaye. “For example, we developed an evaporating condenser that uses 70% less energy than the alternative.”
Because cooling units normally run non-stop, ensuring that only the required amount of energy is used can make a huge difference in costs and efficiency. Traditionally, industrial chillers have operated with stop-start condensers and evaporator fans, sometimes enhanced with two-speed operation.
Refrigeration and freezing are energy intensive processes. By analyzing individual components of their chillers, Advance Techno Systems in Ahmedabad have reduced energy usage in their units, explains Vinod Limaye, Managing Director.
Using the right amount of energy
While this was acceptable for decades, modern awareness of the need to reduce energy consumption and increase the sustainability of operations has led to variable speed drives (VSDs) and more efficient motors like ABB’s SynRM being introduced. VSDs adjust the speed of the motor depending on load requirements, so only as much energy as is necessary is used. This also reduces equipment stress, cuts maintenance costs, and extends service intervals.
“With VSDs we can achieve the exact temperatures required by our customers,” Limaye explains. “This is important in chillers because reducing the temperature in the condenser by one degree requires an increase in energy of about 2.75%. By introducing certain components into the process, we can achieve a 12% energy saving compared to other products on the market.”
Because refrigeration and cooling systems are so important to our way of life, making their future operation as sustainable as possible is hugely important. Keeping our drinks cold in the future is possible through the continued adoption of newer, more energy efficient technologies in the industry.
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