Frozen foods is a $194 billion industry worldwide with $42 billion of that total spent in North America alone, making it a significant segment of the global economy. As demand for quality products continues to increase, food processors are seeking better methods and operational processes to meet the needs of their clients. What will be the key to meeting this growing global demand for frozen foods? “Technology,” says the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. According to its research, “improvements can only be achieved by focusing on new technologies and investigating poorly understood factors that influence the quality of frozen food products.” This includes the ability to develop better process techniques and products. The CO2 Cascade System for Spiral Freezers from M&M Refrigeration provides such a solution. The technology lowers costs, enables a high-quality food product and achieves a higher throughput. The benefits offered by this system merit serious consideration, by plant and facility owners looking to maximize quality and throughput while minimizing operating expenses. “A Cascade CO2 System offers lower installation costs, lower energy costs and lower operating temperatures with higher production yields,” says Duane Marshall, CEO of M&M Refrigeration. “It benefits everyone.”
The CO2 Cascade System: A Viable Solution That Meets the Challenges of Today’s Food Processors with Spiral Freezers
M&M’s CO2 Cascade Refrigeration System offers an ideal configuration for the spiral freezers common to many frozen food processing lines. It’s cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and it boosts product quality.
- Cascade systems consist of two independent refrigeration systems: an ammonia system and a carbon dioxide
system. The two share a common cascade heat exchanger
- Each internal system uses a different refrigerant that is best suited to the given temperature range
- Ammonia has a lower charge to achieve specified temperatures, allowing processors to maintain a lower inventory
- Cascade systems use less expensive materials and insulation for lower installation costs
- Cascade system refrigerants do not deplete the ozone layer and do not contribute to global warming, but do reduce the planet’s carbon footprint
“No cooling is required on the low-temperature side compressors,” says Marshall. “In addition, CO2 systems always operate at a positive pressure.”
A CO2 Cascade Refrigeration System Greatly Improves Energy Conservation, Throughput, Quality
The rising cost of energy makes it difficult for frozen food processors to reduce operational costs, adding to the challenge of setting up cold storage. However, Technavio, a market research firm, predicts CO2 cascade systems could be a game changer. “The focus on energy efficient practices like the usage of CO2 cascade systems, where two refrigerants are used in one refrigeration system, is projected to make a break-through in the overall market growth.”
What makes a CO2 Cascade System a game changer for Spiral Freezers?
The system’s use of two different refrigerants—carbon dioxide and ammonia. The system employs carbon dioxide as its primary refrigerant to work conjointly with a very low ammonia charge as its secondary refrigerant. This allows operations to benefit from ammonia’s thermal properties without the burden of a large ammonia inventory. In addition, ammonia may be isolated to the machine room, with carbon dioxide
used in the processing or storage areas.
Throughput Increased Up to 50% While Energy Consumption Reduced Up to 40%
The combination of carbon dioxide and ammonia also gives production managers the ability to achieve freezing temperatures as low as -58°F, increasing production yield. Product quality is improved, product contamination risk is reduced and overall throughput is increased by up to 50%. Another key benefit is the system’s energy efficiency. Carbon dioxide compression in a cascade system uses significantly less energy than a two-stage ammonia system (as well as many other conventional freezing or refrigeration systems)—
about 40% less energy per ton of refrigerant to achieve specified temperatures.
Return on Investment in Less Than Five Years
Once installed, the energy savings and incentives of a CO2 Cascade System contribute to a company’s overall ROI. Typically, these systems yield an ROI in less than five years, and in some cases less than three.
There are other advantages as well:
- Compact skid design with an approximate 30’x12’ footprint, available in capacities up to 300 tons
- Reduced space constraint expedites maintenance during downtime and shutdown
- Easier to install
- Lower material cost
- Uses less lagging than other comparable systems
- Completely green with no ozone depletion potential
- Process Safety Management (PSM) compliance and Risk Management Program (RMP) compliance
- Reduced owner liability, lower insurance costs and enhanced overall performance