“For years synthetic coolants have been used in cooling systems, but unfortunately, these cannot always be used, or they are too expensive, for a number of applications,” says Erik Deswert of HVA Koeling. This is especially so for the storing of fruit. “The cooling actions with these gases take too long, drying out the fruit. The purer the gas, the shorter the cooling actions.” HVA Koeling deploys CO2 installations, which are more sustainable and suitable for fruit storage.
The alternative synthetic coolants are made up of various gases. From there the evaporation process can be extracted. Every gas has a different composition with each its own cooling capacity per kilogram of cooling gas. Cooling with R22 is no longer allowed, yet Deswert has concluded that plenty of R22 installations are still active, not just in Belgium, but also in France and Germany. “Because switching to an allowed gas is more expensive for fruit cultivators, this only happens sparsely. Yet it has been known for ten years already that R22 would become banned from 2015,” Deswert explains.
Every Freon is up for discussion nowadays. “Within four years, the gas R507 has also been banned. R134 is still allowed in new installations until 2020. Then the switch has to be made to recyclable coolants,” says Deswert. One of the coolants that can still be used is CO2. Existing installations can be converted into CO2 installations. A subsidy is even available to Belgian entrepreneurs for more sustainable CO2 installations.
HVA Koeling, located in Genk, Belgian Limburg, has been active as a builder of cooling installations for more than 30 years already. The company currently has about 30 employees and is active in Belgium, the north of France and Germany. Last year, the company realised various cooling projects between 300 and 3,000 tonnes. “We build installations up to 1,500 kW cooling capacity.”
In order to anticipate the Freon perils, HVA has resolutely chosen CO2 as natural coolant. By using CO2 as coolant, HVA contributes to the improvement of the environment. “Just this year we have transported 24,000 kilograms of CO2 for our installations,” Deswert says.
Despite the small number of employees, HVA Koeling is in control of everything. “We do everything personally, from A to Z. Engineering, assembly, operating systems, towing service,” Deswert sums up. Four years ago, HVA Koeling permanently chose CO2 cooling systems. “We do projects for cultivators and wholesalers. About 90 per cent of the installations is CO2 refrigerated. Testing results were very good. We build the plants and electrical operational boxes for retail, assembly, however, is done by our parent company Fieuw in Roeselare.” Fieuw only installs CO2 installations. These installations have already been set up by the company for 150 supermarkets.
Over the years, the company’s focus has become increasingly often on larger cooling projects. Agriculture and especially the fresh produce sector are currently good for about 80 per cent of commissions. Additionally, the company does various projects for regional companies, and the company also sets up refrigeration systems for the fresh products in supermarkets. The air conditioning previously supplied by the company, is increasingly being reduced, and this is now done by CO2 solutions, according to Deswert.
This year, seven large projects have already been executed in Belgium and the north of France. “We are talking about ten cooling cells per project,” Deswert continues. “These projects have been completely CO2 refrigerated. In addition, we have fitted the cooling installations with a meter which registers how much moisture is extracted.” That is important information for cultivators. A different measuring system in the installations is the level measuring system in the coolant vats. “Every cooling has a vat with coolant. These vats could be both large or small. The level in vat changes, because the door is opened, for example. The system can indicate a trend in the level of coolant thanks to our own software. If this trend is downwards, it indicates a leak. We are then notified, so that we can solve the problem.”
Thanks to this technology, leaks can be quickly discovered by the cooling company. Generally, a leak is only found after a large amount of coolant has drained off. For the older Freon installations this technology resulted in a two-third decrease of Freon-use by customers. That results for CO2 installations are smaller, is because of the materials used. “CO2 installations are equipped with stainless steel pipes, while Freon installations are equipped with copper pipes. Copper wears out.”
The installations can all be operated at a distance. “If the deviations are too large, we receive a notification, and we intervene. We can log into the system at a distance, and can stop the installation, if necessary.” The user of the cooling cell also has the possibility of operating the system at a distance via a computer or smartphone.
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