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GEA Searle’s new r&d lab showing the environmental test chamber and airflow test rig

UK: A little over one year after the fire which struck the GEA Searle factory, the company has rebuilt and now reopened its r&d facility.

More than 80 firefighters from across Hampshire attended the fire which broke out overnight on February 26, 2014, destroying around one third of the company’s site in Fareham. The fire affected one end of the complex, the oldest part of the building, which contained the paint shop, coil coating area and an assembly shop. Worst affected was the r&d lab which was completely destroyed.

Last Friday (May 15), the newly rebuilt, state-of-the-art r&d facility was officially opened by Steve Gill, president-elect of the Institute of Refrigeration in front of invited suppliers, customers and other guests.

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R507 refrigeration pack

Addressing the assembled guests and discussing the fire and its aftermath, engineering manager Simon Jones said: “This was a hard period of time for us but would have been far more difficult without your assistance.”

Described as one of the most comprehensive research and development facilities in the UK refrigeration industry, the new lab is able to fully test its full range of coolers and condensers.

Those supplying equipment and services to the new facility include Star Refrigeration, EBM-Papst, Henry Technologies, Arctic Circle, Danfoss, Ziehl Abegg and GEA Bock.

Highlights include a 15m x 8m environmental test chamber capable accommodating the largest V-Bank dry coolers. Also included are an inner calorimeter room and air flow test rig.

Two separate packs – one R507, one transcritical CO2 – will be available for the cooler and condenser tests. Installation of the CO2 pack has been delayed due to Searle’s current workload with Transport for London but is now due to be delivered by Star Refrigeration and installed in September.