Eastland Ports newest development is working to tackle climate change through investment in sustainable cooling systems.
The Port is working with specialists EcoChill on a future proof cooling solution for an up and coming cold store conversion. This includes the design, build and installation of what will be New Zealand’s largest critically charged hydrocarbon refrigeration system delivering over 1 Megawatt of cooling power.
The system will provide cooling across two cool stores that are being created from the conversion of an existing cold store that is being retired at the Port’s Kaiti Beach Rd Site in Gisborne. The store will be set up to handle nearly 3.5 million kilograms of kiwifruit annually. Site preparation is currently underway and includes the installation of PIR panel to make good the old store and provide multiple rooms within the existing structure. Hand over is planned for the end of February 2020.
The system, thought to be the largest of its type in New Zealand, includes purpose built EcoChill engineered plant, designed with both a primary and secondary refrigerant, using critically charged hydrocarbon packaged chiller units. This approach has decreased the amount of refrigerant required to as little as 10% of what would normally be used and the system will have a combined charge of 112kg across 8 circuits.
In choosing refrigerants the lower the Global Warming Potential (GWP), the lower the climate impact and Eastland Ports has made the choice to use hydrocarbon, a natural refrigerant with a GWP of just 2, versus synthetic Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) alternatives that can be as high as 3,922.
The use of a natural refrigerant will support the Port in its environmental impact goals and help future proof the system.
Refrigerant choice will become an increasing issue for businesses with the 1 January 2020 implementation of the HFC phase down in New Zealand.
As importers of refrigerants, global HFC phase down commitments have already had an impact on New Zealand, alongside increases in the price of the New Zealand Carbon Unit, with the cost of synthetic refrigerants increasing six-fold in the last year. Supply of some synthetic refrigerants has already decreased, and notice has been given by overseas manufacturers of some refrigerants being withdrawn from the market all together.
The high degrees of temperature and humidity control delivered with the new system also allow for greater flexibility of the refrigerated space for storage of other seasonal fruit, vegetables and goods as needed, something that historically has been difficult to accomplish.
“It’s no longer just a case of building a box and making it cold,’’ says Mr Matthew Darby, Founder and Managing Director of EcoChill:
“Refrigeration is critical infrastructure and cooling has become increasingly sophisticated in its ability to support growers and distributors to deliver higher quality fruit and vegetables with higher orchard to plate yields.”