Leading The Way With Natural Refrigerants

The average global temperature is predicted to rise by anything from 1.5°C to as much as 7°C by the end of this century, with potentially catastrophic effects. The choices that we make today are crucial in reducing that rise, and this includes which refrigerants are used in our cooling and air conditioning systems.

Case study cranberries canada content

The synthetic chemical refrigerants widely in use around the world have a capacity to warm the atmosphere that is thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide, the commonly acknowledged ‘greenhouse gas’. Research suggests that they have accounted for nearly 8% of total warming emissions to date. In addition, hydrofluorocarbons, currently the most commonly used synthetic refrigerants, also produce a form of acid as they degrade that environmental experts believe is harmful to the environment, marine life and humans.

Güntner has long championed the use of natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrocarbons and water. All of these have minimal or no global warming potential in the amounts that are likely to be released from closed systems. Carbon dioxide’s added benefits are that it is both non-toxic and non-flammable. For this reason it is increasing in popularity as an alternative to synthetic refrigerants and can be found in a variety of settings, from supermarkets to large-scale refrigeration plants.

“AS A COMPANY WE ARE FIRMLY COMMITTED TO A GREENER FUTURE FOR OUR INDUSTRY. ALMOST HALF OF THE GÜNTNER CONDENSERS, EVAPORATORS AND GAS COOLERS SOLD IN 2022 ARE USED WITH NATURAL REFRIGERANTS, AND WE HOPE TO INCREASE THAT NUMBER RAPIDLY IN THE FUTURE.”
FABIAN GANSER SUSTAINABILITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERT, GÜNTNER

At Emblem Cranberry in the Sainte-Eulalie region of the Canadian province of Quebec can be found one of the largest transcritical CO2 cooling systems in the world. The company is a major processor and distributor of cranberries and other small fruits. Its facility was opened in 2016, and has been through a three-stage development that was completed in November, 2021. It is now home to one quick freezing tunnel, two production areas for fruit sorting, cleaning and packaging, one cooler and two refrigerated dock areas. The facility can accommodate 25 million kg of cranberries, and 7.3 million kg of other fruits.

Emblem’s cooling system incorporates a Güntner Adiabatic Gas Cooler with hydroBLU. “This project was built for the long run, so Güntner was a good choice for us. It offers a high quality gas cooler with stainless steel coil and strong, sturdy frame,” says David Bastrash, Engineering and Manufacturing Manager at system provider Zero-C.

“Güntner’s controls make adiabatic solutions the best fit for fruit storage cases such as this,” adds Jascha Heynck, Vice President of Sales at Güntner in North America. “Using hydroBLU in hot weather to enhance the CO2 cooling system performance can save up to 25% of energy and 50% of water consumption. The V-shape VARIO Gas Cooler provides excellent performance, both saving energy and shrinking the installation footprint.”

CO2 cooling systems generally allow more waste heat to be recovered than those using synthetic refrigerants, providing a valuable heat source. At Emblem, heat produced by the CO2 racks is transferred by a glycol cooling system into heating for the building and office space, and is also used to heat water for cleaning the fruit, thus saving on both costs and emissions.

“WE HAVE A 100KW FURNACE TO HEAT THE BUILDING WHEN THE COMPRESSOR DOESN'T GENERATE ENOUGH HEAT. IN SIX YEARS WE'VE OPERATED IT ONLY ONCE, SO WE HAVE VIRTUALLY NO HEATING COSTS FOR THE FACILITY.”
VINCENT GODIN PRESIDENT, EMBLEM CRANBERRY

Emblem’s successful installation of a large-scale CO2 cooling system points the way to a future in which natural refrigerants will become the norm, and our planet will reap the benefit. Güntner is proud to be leading the way.