Australian transport depot installs central-style low-charge ammonia plant

Scantec Managing Director Stefan Jensen told Accelerate Australia & NZ about a recently completed low-charge ammonia installation in Brisbane, the potential for a huge global ammonia retrofit market, upcoming projects, and more.

Scantec's central low-charge NH3 (300 kg) plant room in Brisbane.

Since first developing the modern version of its central-style low-charge ammonia systems in 2013, Australia-based Scantec Refrigeration Technologies (Scantec) has consistently led development and discussion of the technology worldwide.

The company currently boasts 17 installations in operation (with three more under construction). Most of these are located in Australia, with a few in China.

Having returned from speaking about low-charge ammonia systems in Germany, Scantec Managing Director Stefan Jensen spoke to Accelerate Australia & NZ magazine – published by shecco, which also publishes this webite – about the potential for a huge global ammonia retrofit market, a recently completed installation in Brisbane, upcoming projects, and more.

// Accelerate Australia & NZ: What can you tell us about your most recent low-charge ammonia system installation in Brisbane?

Jensen: We’ve recently installed a low-charge, two-stage, central-style ammonia plant for a transport depot in Brisbane. The refrigerated volume is around 45,000 m3 and the system is in commissioning right now.

That one is quite good because it is DX (direct expansion), both on the low-temperature side and the medium-temperature side. It's DX all the way through, and there are no ammonia pumps. The low and medium-temperature capacities are 194/192 kW respectively, with future expansion to 284/241 kW.

// Accelerate Australia & NZ: You have just returned from a refrigeration and air-conditioning technology conference in Germany, where you shared your knowledge about low-charge ammonia systems and energy performance. What kind of response did you receive?

Jensen: Yes, on the suggestion of one of our suppliers based in Germany, I attended the German Refrigeration and Climate 2018 conference in Aachen in November.

The event was organised by the German Society of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (Deutscher Kälte-und Klimatechnischer Verein or DKV), which is a technical research organisation for refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump technology.

I received two major responses.

The first was that several companies showed interest in our low-charge ammonia installations.

One was from a German company, Kreuzträger, which has done 10 so-called low-charge ammonia systems. However they are not real central-style low-charge ammonia systems. Because on the low side, they still use ammonia circulation pumps and conventional distributors. They are still developing, but the interest was clearly there.

The other response was that I was being challenged on data I was showing about the poor energy performance of transcritical CO2 systems in Melbourne.

Now, we have been given energy performance records for a transcritical CO2 system for a small warehouse that has already been operating in Australia for over a year.

If you work out the specific energy consumption in kilowatt hours per cubic metre per year, it uses twice as much as an equivalent low-charge ammonia system located in the same neighbourhood.

I had to explain that refrigerant choice only has a minor impact on annualised system energy efficiency and that superior energy performance is all about system design. Everybody in the room liked that a lot, because there was a lot of applause.

I believe the refrigerated warehouse industry is ill-advised investing in something that has no chance of ever being as good as ammonia can be when it is done well.

I also believe that a huge ammonia retrofit market is emerging globally. Millions of existing ammonia plants are likely to be long way away from the best energy performance they can deliver if modified appropriately.

Click here to read the full version of this article – in which Jensen discusses the first system in Australia with insulated coolers and cold lake air distribution as well as Scantec projects currently in the pipeline – in the summer 2019 edition of Accelerate Australia & NZ magazine.

By Devin Yoshimoto

Jan 24, 2019, 10:05

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