This year, fruit grower Olaf van der Lienden from Herveld had to deal with a leakage in his existing refrigeration plant, which was installed in 1984. “You can choose to re-fill it, but it remains an old installation. We, therefore, chose to replace the cooling system, which operated with a synthetic refrigerant, with a new trans-critical Co2 installation. It was a considerable investment, but it is one with which we can move forward into the future,” says the grower.
Van Abeelen Cooling Technology delivered the new cooling system. “Work on the installation commenced on the 1st of September, on the 24th of September it was ready – the apples went in on 25th of September. So, the timeline was very tight, but we succeeded, and that’s to the great credit of the installers. I am very satisfied,” says Olaf. “I’m expecting several more fruit growers to choose their cooling solutions in the future.”
“Van Abeelen is not the best-known name in the fruit growing sector, but has achieved (complex) sustainable solutions for high-profile companies in the field of refrigeration and cooling technology, both nationally and internationally. Together with Wiltink Koudetechniek, due to their experience in the fruit -growing sector, I took the plunge, and I’m very happy that I did. They know what they’re talking about and the service was good. If required, they can monitor and adjust the installation remotely. This installation was also satisfactory from a cost-effectiveness point of view,” says the grower.
The new installation works with a natural CO2 refrigerant… “The current EU-driven developments in the market force the end-user to select refrigeration solutions which have the lowest possible Global Warming Potential (GWP). In this respect, uncertainty with regard to future regulations plays an important role when deciding on the best refrigerant. By choosing CO2, which has a low GWP value of 1, Olaf van der Lienden has opted for a sustainable solution,” says Jeffry Roossien of Van Abeelen Cooling Technology.
“Based on current developments, whereby refrigerants with a GWP higher than 2500 e.g. R404a and R507a are being phased out, together with the introduction of a quota system, which is likely to cause the cost of chemical refrigerants to rise continuously, one can say that a synthetic refrigerant is not a good long-term solution”. Refrigeration/cooling technology currently offers various solutions for natural refrigerants, such as NH3, CO2, and propane. By choosing CO2, the apples are stored in an environmentally-friendly way, using natural refrigerants”, concludes Jeffry.
In choosing a natural refrigerant, Olaf van der Lienden currently has few contemporaries in the fruit sector who have joined him, says Frank van de Geijn. (Wageningen UR). He’s been active in the fruit-cooling/refrigeration sector for many years. “Despite the new F-gas legislation, enforced as of the 1st of January 2015, few agricultural entrepreneurs choose to convert, or completely replace, their installations,” says the researcher. “You can see that many companies that switch also rent out cooling units, for instance. Such is the case with Olaf van der Lienden. This group has already progressed much further in terms of the transition.”
He understands the dilemma. “The refrigeration system can, and probably will, continue to operate in the event of a leak, as long as it is re-filled with an available, legal refrigerant. And let’s face it, a complete conversion to a natural refrigerant installation is a costly investment, that doesn’t immediately yield a return. It’s a costly option to consider, especially if you have an existing installation that functions well in technical terms. Therefore, many owners of these kinds of installations prefer to wait for the time being.” Then why replace the installation? Asking the question is, in fact, answering it. “The moment the installation runs empty, it’s costly to fill it up again. As long as that choice is made deliberately, it’s fine. But throughout the year I get phone calls from fruit growers who are faced with this difficult choice and are feeling the pressure. That’s why I expect more growers will be coming under increased pressure to choose natural refrigerants”, concludes Van de Geijn.