Cooling: Energy reduction and environmental protection

Refrigeration cabinets and systems: energy reduction and environmental protection are top priorities

VDMA panel discussion on “Eco-friendly cooling of food” on 26 February

For the refrigeration cabinet industry, EuroShop is coming around at an excellent time – just as, according to the latest EHI studies, German retailers are again prepared to invest more money in their outlets. Roughly 150 international companies will present innovative refrigeration cabinets and systems at EuroShop 2008. When asked about the current industry developments, leading manufacturers highlighted above all issues such as the presentation of fresh foods, energy reduction and waste disposal.

Freshness to the fore

A core principle shared by companies across the board is that product ranges need to be foregrounded more in presentations. Inevitably, display cabinets fade visually into background, as, for instance, with fruit and vegetables where the aim is to create a kind of marketplace feel. When it comes to multideck refrigeration wall units, the upper level, especially in the convenience sections, is receding. The company Celsior is enlarging the product displays on multideck cabinets especially for the “Discount” line in order to provide a better overview of the presentation areas. Hauser concentrates on optimising lighting and continues to supply the tried-and-trusted Front Light System. What’s more, the company is researching the use of LED technology.

Another industry trend is for refrigerated safes with high-quality products positioned as eyecatchers as well as refrigeration islands set up close to the delicatessen counters with the aim of getting deli staff to interact more with customers. As far as colours go, the interior of the display case should not only harmonise with the product range but also tie in with the store architecture especially as colour has been proven to support sales.

Shape and material – the use of steel remains indispensable
There has been a noticeable shift away from angular to rounded forms. Findings by Linde reveal that, aside from the merchandising benefits, the shapes of contemporary display cases can help save on running costs. Due to the statics involved, however, there’s no getting past steel as the primary construction material. The industry is nevertheless putting in a concerted effort to reduce the proportion of steel relative to the total area of the display case in favour of product presentations by, for example, using plastic sections.

With attempts to reduce energy consumption, glass doors and lids are featuring increasingly in the latest refrigeration cabinets and deep freeze units which has resulted in higher proportions of glass used than in the past. A good example is mincemeat offerings from certified sources in the self-service sections. The application of innovative coating options on the inside of glass doors promises to further cut down on energy consumption, as do energy-saving ventilators which, unlike at the previous EuroShop, now come as standard.

Energy consumption

In future, reductions in energy consumption along with preventing leaks and the topic of environmental protection in general will become even higher priorities. Environmental protection is taken into account right from the development of the overall refrigeration cabinet design and involves components such as ballasts, ventilators and lighting as well as the engineering of the entire refrigeration cycle. Naturally, the required temperature still has to be maintained. Energy losses are relatively high among multideck refrigeration wall units with narrow upper levels because the development of these appliances is still in its infancy. In the form of the Energy Saving System (ES), Hauser offers a technology which uses the waste heat from refrigeration cabinets together with environmentally friendly geothermal warmth for heating purposes. This development has received many awards, including the “Energy Globe”.

Italian specialists Carel claim to have demonstrated that integrated monitoring systems such as their latest development, the “CAREL retail sistema”, offer dual advantages by not only documenting but also controlling energy consumption. A special study performed by Carel in seven Italian supermarkets in 2006 revealed that over an eight month period, the stores running the Carel products averaged cost savings of EUR 28,000 – energy cost savings of on average 25 percent.

The subject of waste disposal

Green alternatives that facilitate the disposal of notably plug-in appliances, the switch to environmentally friendly materials such as foamed components and the use of ozone-friendly refrigerants, CO2, for instance, are still in the development stage. Substantial increases in the energy efficiency of fixed CO2 refrigeration systems during nonstop operation are attained when the ambient temperature is under 15 degrees Celcius. According to Linde/Carrier, Germany’s European neighbours are currently leading demand for CO2. The company anticipates that Germany, too, will pick up on this trend if for no other reason than the need to comply with the EU regulation on phasing out refrigerants damaging to the ozone layer. From 2009, Linde/Carrier will put carbon-dioxide-based technology into mass production. At Arneg, the notable hesitancy among German retailers in making the switch to green refrigerants is attributed to the high investment costs. The Epta Group sees itself as a pioneer in the development of refrigerator components compatible with CO2 and claims to have been the first manufacturer to have advanced the technology towards becoming a technical reality. Since then, the company has notched up several dozen installations and has founded a special research unit dedicated exclusively to improving the environmental friendliness of the company’s product line.

The VDMA Specialised Group Refrigerated Cabinets panel discussion
At EuroShop on 26 February, legislators, retailers and manufacturers of refrigeration cabinets will discuss the EU environmental protection targets and their impact on retail under the banner “Eco-friendly cooling of food.” The focus will be on the extensive environmental protection requirements for the refrigeration of foods – above all energy efficiency and the use of environmentally friendly refrigerants – aimed at preventing climate change. The Specialised Group Refrigerated Cabinets within the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V (German Engineering Federation – VDMA) is the organiser. The panel discussion will be held at the Düsseldorf Trade Fair Center’s CongressCenter CCD.East from 10.30am. Participation is free of charge. The conference languages will be English and German.