Understanding Intelligent Process Cooling

Intelligent process cooling describes an approach to cooling in beverage production and packaging that moves beyond evaporative cooling towers and the use of traditional central chiller systems that rely on ammonia as a refrigerant. Unlike traditional methods, it intelligently matches process cooling systems to individual cooling loads without an evaporative process or the use of ammonia to gain verifiably better results in energy efficiency, water use, and safety.

 

Traditional process cooling

To satisfy cooling loads, a traditional central chiller system delivers process-cooling water or ammonia refrigerant at the lowest temperature required for any given process within a beverage production or packaging plant. As such, all process water or refrigerant is cooled to the lowest temperature required and routed to other processes, regardless of whether the same temperature is needed elsewhere. The method uses large amounts of energy to supply coolant at one set point throughout the system. Inefficiencies are also created with flow rates, since the centralized system is based on the satisfaction of one cooling load.

 

Frigel with Heavigel chillers

Part of Frigel’s approach to process cooling in beverage applications involves the use of Heavygel chillers positioned near each process cooling point within a plant.

 

Centralized chillers in many plants use ammonia as the refrigerant. Ammonia is poisonous in high concentrations, dictating a host of safety precautions. 

Most plants use open cooling towers to provide process-cooling water to the central chiller. Cooling towers use an evaporative process to cool water, making them notorious water wasters. They also result in dirty water because the towers are open to the elements. The systems also suffer from solid deposits, gases, algae, bacteria/Legionella, microbiological growth, scale accumulation on heat exchangers, and oxidation. All of these issues must be fixed with intensive maintenance and chemical treatment.

 

A Better Approach

Intelligent process cooling represents a paradigm shift in the beverage production and packaging industry. It allows companies to achieve significant operational efficiencies that contribute directly to the bottom line, while helping to improve plant safety and address the ongoing need to demonstrate environmental stewardship.

Intelligent process cooling differs from traditional methods in how it satisfies individual cooling loads. It also uses a closed-loop system to supply water to chillers rather than using open cooling towers.

 

Intelligent Process Cooling

The approach uses a closed-loop system that features an Ecodry central cooler, which is located outside a plant. The central cooler uses heat exchangers and an internationally patented adiabatic chamber to cool water circulated to it from Heavygel chillers positioned near each process cooling point within a plant. The adiabatic chamber of the Ecodry unit pre-cools ambient air on hotter days before it enters the unit’s heat exchanger compartment. Cooled water is then re-circulated to the chillers. Each process dictates the type of chiller (water- or air-cooled) used. The microprocessor-based controller automatically maintains precise cooling temperatures.

Efficiencies are gained because it allows for better control of cooling based on the requirements and flow rates of each individual process and the ability to deliver cooling water through a series of stages — versus an approach that has equipment sized to supply coolant based on a single process with the lowest temperature requirement.

As a closed-loop system, it saves cooling water when compared with open cooling towers because it re-circulates water continuously through the process. Using the same clean water continuously also greatly minimizes maintenance issues and eliminates costs associated with water disposal and treatment.

The central cooler also allows for “free cooling,” because it uses ambient air to cool process water. Free cooling means there is no need for chillers to meet cooling loads when ambient conditions permit. Instead, the system automatically shuts down the chillers to capitalize on free cooling.

The approach gives companies the ability to:

  • Save as much as 30 percent on energy consumption
  • Lower water consumption by as much 95 percent
  • Reduce chemical use by 50 percent
  • Lower maintenance by as much as 40 hours per month
  • Eliminate the expense and safety risks associated with ammonia
  • Eliminate the spread of Legionnaire’s Disease inherent with evaporative cooling towers

 

Diverse Applications

Beverage cooling applications that require zero contaminants and more precise and temperature control, include:

  • Wort cooling
  • Yeast cooling
  • Fermentation
  • Maturation
  • Syrup cooling
  • Carbonation
  • Pasteurization
  • Cooling tunnels

 

Components

The primary components of a Frigel intelligent process cooling system designed for beverage applications include:

  • Ecodry central adiabatic cooler: Housed outside a customer’s facility, Ecodry is a central cooler that serves as the primary component of the integrated, closed-loop system that delivers clean water at the right temperature to industrial processes year round.
  • Heavygel chillers: The high-efficiency central chillers come in both water-cooled and air-cooled options. They are simple to use, monitor and optimize, maintaining maximum energy efficiency. The chillers, which do not use ammonia and consume a minimal footprint, are located within the plant in close proximity to each beverage production or packaging process.
  • 3PR Intelligent Control System: The controller automatically adjusts the system to ensure optimum performance based on a wide range of operating parameters. It gives users extended functionality for monitoring and adjusting system parameters, using real-time data to further enhance performance. Troubleshooting features, combined with remote access capability, also help operators quickly resolve issues and minimize downtime associated with routine maintenance.

 

Process Focused

Whether it’s a new facility, expansion or retrofit, Frigel takes a consultative approach by evaluating each customer’s process and subsequently engineering solutions that are uniquely optimized to the application, facility and process. The result is a custom configuration of proven technologies designed and engineered to maximize efficiencies and boost productivity. With operations in six continents and 90 countries, Frigel offers extensive and essential support on a local level throughout the world.

 

Trends Drive Need

Frigel has been a worldwide market leader in intelligent process cooling since the 1960s. Its intelligent process cooling approach has been widely adopted in various industries, such as plastics processing where it pioneered the concept.

The growing need for efficiencies, sustainability and safety drove Frigel to increase its emphasis on making the advanced approach known to forward-thinking leaders in the beverage industry. It currently has beta sites in operation with four beverage companies on four continents.

 “We’re excited to introduce this approach to the beverage industry given the value it offers for improved operational efficiencies, as well as goals associated with sustainability,” said Frigel CEO Duccio Dorin. “We are especially pleased with the amount of interest we’ve seen from the media, which goes a long way in our effort to educate decision-makers about the concept and the benefits that can be achieved by moving toward an advanced and more intelligent approach to process cooling.”

 

For more information, visit www.frigel.com.