UK: Star Refrigeration has brought an unused coldstore back to life with a system using lower GWP refrigerant R449A, advanced controls and innovative heat recovery.

The coldstore in Newark belonging to The Ice Co Storage and Logistics company had fallen into disuse due to a streamlining of the firm’s production, combined with expansion at other sites. Looking to lease the plant to a third party for refrigeration, storage and distribution purposes, the company invited Star to assess the costs of making it operational again.

This invitation was extended on the strength of the relationship which Star has enjoyed with The Ice Co Storage and Logistics over many years and across a wide variety of projects. In recent times, Star Refrigeration has overseen the successful conversion, replacement and refurbishment of plants in, Preston, South Kirkby and Wallsend.

Noting that the original coldstore plant operated with R404A refrigerant, Star concluded that in order to reinstate operations, the plant would require not only a controls upgrade and a condenser replacement, but also refrigerant conversion. These costs would have amounted to roughly the same as replacing the existing common plant with all new facilities.  In discussion with the client, it was agreed that comprehensive replacement represented the best option.

The new plant comprised two R449A condensing units, serving a single ceiling-mounted evaporator within the coldstore. Both units operate at 36kW, which represents 65% of the maximum design duty, affording a solution which combines performance with resiliency.

The supply, installation and commissioning of the new plant was carried out through Star’s Leeds branch.

The installation also included Star’s Ethos control panels

Star installed the condensing units on an existing outdoor concrete plinth, situated directly behind the internal evaporators. The interconnecting pipework was run up the outside of the building to reach the roof void above the evaporators. This achieved a practical solution which minimised installation time, expense and effort.

Star also prioritised energy-efficiency in this project. By incorporating the same electronic expansion valves, EC condenser fans and a skip-defrost function in use at similar projects elsewhere in the group, Star were able to guarantee optimal energy consumption.

The original plant operated with a glycol underfloor heat mat (UFHM). Keen to use this as a platform to improve the plant’s energy-efficiency even further, Star installed heat recovery exchangers which recovered excess heat energy from the HP liquid line of each condensing unit and pumped it back into the UFHM as a green source of heat. Star believes that this complex strategy, not normally employed at refrigeration plants of this kind, will serve the company and future leasees well in the future.

For the same price as a basic refurbishment and upgrade of the original R404A plant, Star says the client obtained a complete replacement of the coldstore, which now meets all current regulations, enjoys increased energy-efficiency and represents an additional avenue of revenue through a third-party lease. The project also included a comprehensive maintenance contract for the first 12 months of the plant’s operation.

With the cost-effective and highly-efficient solution now in place, The Ice Co Storage & Logistics has since achieved their initial aim of leasing the plant to a third party.

Paul Martin, MD of The Ice Co Storage and Logistics said, “We’ve had a strong relationship with Star over the years, and knew they had the expertise for the job. We saw a business opportunity in our unused cold store, and with the cost-effective and highly-efficient solution provided by Star, the company has since achieved its initial aim of leasing the plant to a third party.”