Dubai, UAE, 17 September 2018: Food safety is largely underpinned by a stringent cold chain, featuring tight temperature controls, especially in the Middle East. In discussing the energy burden of cold store operations, Rajeev Sivadasan, General Manager, TPmec, channel partner for Viking Cold Solutions, a US-based thermal energy storage (TES) solutions provider, said that with the round-the-clock demand of such facilities, the charted consumption for a 24-hour period for cold stores would “look like a mountain peaking during the warmer and typically busier part of the day. The common goal of these industries is to lower the overall amount of energy that they are using and to spread the energy usage evenly across the day. Significant peak reduction is most effective by using technologies that allow the load to shift to non-peak periods.”
To further prove his point, Sivadasan stressed that with temperature playing a vital role in the quality, safety and shelf life of agricultural and food products, it is important that frozen food and other perishable products must be stored within specific temperature ranges at all times, without interruption. However, he stressed, cold storage facilities are continuously bombarded and infiltrated by outside heat, when doors open, as people and equipment enter and move around in the freezer, and with the arrival of new product, packaging, pallets or through small air gaps. “As this heat enters the facility, some is absorbed by materials – floors, racking, inventory – inside the freezer and some is immediately removed by the refrigeration equipment and there will be temperature fluctuations inside the storage area. For a food product, even small temperature variations can lead to micro-thawing and crystallisation of various components of frozen food, which is a major factor of quality and shelf life degradation,” he added.
Sivadasan stressed that Viking Cold Solution’s TES acts like a battery for refrigeration systems, using phase change material (PCM) to store thermal energy in the form of cold for future use. “During off-peak hours, a facility’s existing refrigeration equipment freezes the PCM,” he said, “and during peak hours, the facility can dramatically reduce the mechanical run time of its costly refrigeration systems and rely on the PCM to stabilise room temperatures and ensure food quality is not compromised.” TES absorbs up to 85% of all heat infiltration into freezers, rather than the food, he said, and maintains 38% more stable temperatures to ensure quality of food is maintained, increasing shelf life of the stored product. “It’s this ability of the TES to absorb heat, which provides an extra layer of protection for food,” he said, “and also provides passive thermal backup protection for stable temperature three times longer, should there be a power outage or equipment failure.”
Sivadasan added that TES can also be integrated with renewable power sources like solar/PV generation. Currently, he said, the solution has been installed in cold storage warehouses, supermarkets, restaurants and food processing facilities throughout North America and the Caribbean, and the recent tie-up between TPmec in Dubai aims to advance TES solutions in the United Arab Emirates and across the Middle East.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org