Heading for the future with environmentally-friendly refrigeration technology
KOMA has been developing and producing energy efficient, reliable, future-proof, and environmentally-friendly refrigeration systems for many years. KOMA refrigeration technology is used in a wide range of sectors, from pasta dough to inflight meals and medicines, but the largest market is the bakery and pastry market.
As the bakery and patisserie market has unique and extremely specific requirements, KOMA has developed various targeted system concepts. The fact that KOMA has over 80 years’ experience in the refrigeration sector is certainly a contributory factor.
In 2012 KOMA has introduced refrigeration systems with natural refrigerants. KOMA has applied natural refrigerants in more than 20 large, integrated systems. KOMA recently also introduced a refrigeration technology using natural refrigerants for individual systems (KOMA CO2 Stand-alone).
M+B Backwaren in Olfen, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is a recent customer who decided to update its existing refrigeration technology. With KOMA CO2 technology, the company is now ready for the future.
M+B Backwaren were at a crossroads in 2017. Upgrades were needed to both the oven as well as the refrigeration technology in order to satisfy current product quality, energy consumption, and user-friendliness requirements. Bernhard Brinkert from M+B Backwaren consulted the local cooperative purchasing association, Ebaecko, and the planning started. They determined which refrigeration system they needed and drew up a tender specification. ‘We visited various suppliers and received tenders’, recalled Brinkert. Following a 2018 visit to two companies that use KOMA systems, including one with CO2 refrigeration technology, it quickly became clear that what they needed was a CO2 booster system. According to Brinkert, KOMA’s unique technology and customer-friendly order process were the main reasons for choosing KOMA. ‘We had a really good, trusting, and open relation with KOMA staff right from the start’, stated Brinkert. ‘Even though the technology alone was sufficient to take the decision, the real decisive factor was the service and knowledge of those responsible for solving our specific problems and meeting our requirements.’ The decision to go with KOMA was finally taken at IBA 2018 in Munich. ‘We actually had the final discussion at the airport because we needed to catch our flight’, added Brinkert smiling.
The original Ebaecko planning was largely adopted, but in consultation with both the company and the Ebaecko technical adviser this was extended and optimized based on the KOMA planners’ experience. ‘The changes were all logical’, stated Brinkert. ‘It quickly became very clear that we were working with true professionals here.’ Brinkert wanted the energy consumption of the new refrigeration systems to be lower than the old systems. The medium-term objective is to switch increasingly to daytime working. As well as reducing the need to work unsociable night hours, it also means that photovoltaic systems installed on the production site roof can cover part of the electricity supply during peak load hours, when systems are charging and products are being cooled.
The company now has various systems that have been modified according to their specific needs as a bakery and to the products they make. Two fully automatic dough retarder proofer machines, each with 16-rack bakery trolleys, are key to the production. These are designed for a temperature range between -20°C to +35°C. The 8 cm thick PU insulation is designed for systems within these temperature ranges. Adjusting the insulation efficiency to the chosen system and customer’s use is a high priority for KOMA. This ensures that the user has the right level of insulation which, as well as offering product assurance, also keeps the costs in check. The variable speed centrifugal fans are fitted across the entire length of the room ensuring that the airflow in the room is always sufficiently cooled, with the most gentle and even distribution possible. With a stainless steel air distribution system and suspended ceiling, the supplied goods are not exposed to a direct airflow and therefore do not dry out. The built-in evaporators are large enough to cool 740 kg of goods from +25°C to -5°C within 3 hours. The fans in the system safeguard uniform and even vaporizer operation. Up to three trolleys of bread rolls are first cooled in the blast chiller for 15 minutes. A diffusion air duct and specially-adapted air distribution system channel the circulating air optimally over the dough pieces, resulting in faster heat dissipation. The system’s capacity is 400 kg per hour. The trolley of plastic trays is then placed and stored in a freezer retrofitted from the old stock. The plastic trays for the next day are picked from this freezer, and these compiled trolleys are placed on the retarder/prover turning trays. Here the dough pieces are stored on the trolley for at least 14 hours, before being defrosted and allowed to rise slowly. ‘This system enables us to deliver the dough pieces to the branches fully proofed, so that our shop teams no longer need be concerned with rising of the rolls’, says Brinkert. People are delighted with the results so far. KOMA has integrated a total of four existing refrigeration sets into the new CO2 system, including two storage freezers of different sizes. The existing technology was removed and replaced with an advanced evaporator and ventilation system. To guarantee safe working, the old doors were replaced with up-to-date versions. The new door frames fit within the existing insulation and are installed in such a way that safe working and temperature stability are safeguarded.
As the bakery will probably need additional refrigeration systems in the coming years, KOMA decided to install additional piping, which can be connected both to the integrated CO2 system and to the future additional refrigeration systems. ‘This will save us a lot of work and mess during our future expansions’, explained Brinkert.
The KOMA CO2 booster at M+B Backwaren comprises 8 compressors and offers three different temperature ranges from -5°C to -42°C. The smart network control regulates the refrigeration system supply ensuring that the desired room temperature is reached.
‘The new KOMA CO2 booster system has optimized our production process, and in KOMA, I’m certain that I’ve found a partner who will continue to come up with lots of ideas to help us find good solutions.’ - Bernhard Brinkert, M+B Backwaren.
The new KOMA CO2 booster system enabled M+B Backwaren to increase the refrigeration area and integrate its existing systems in the network, which reduced the costs. KOMA’s future-focused planning, which was aligned with the company’s requirements, helped optimize processes and make the switch from unfavourable hours at night to daytime hours. Installing additional pipes that are currently not in use will enable the company to expand its refrigeration system easily in the future, with very little construction required. ‘I’m certain that, in KOMA, I’ve found a partner who doesn’t only support you with planning and construction but also comes up with lots of ideas to help you find a good solution’, says Brinkert.
Why CO2 refrigeration?
Refrigerants are categorized with a GWP value to designate a refrigerant’s impact on the environment, The GWP value defines the global warming potential, or the potential of a refrigerant to contribute to global heating. The higher this value, the greater the risk that a refrigerant will have a negative impact on our climate. The use of refrigerants with certain GWP values is being restricted in connection with the EU objective to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, 2022 and 2030. The use of refrigerants with a GWP of over 2500 has already been prohibited in new systems since the start of this year, and maintenance works are only permitted using a recycled refrigerant supply. The permitted GWP for new systems is being gradually reduced. Services that use R404A refrigerant, which is still in common use, will be prohibited from 2030. These refrigeration systems will need to be gradually decommissioned or converted. Manufacturers and suppliers are also limited in the use and distribution of refrigerants that are harmful to the environment. The average GWP of the total amount of refrigerants applied in the market is gradually over the years.
CO2 has a GWP score of 1. If we only take sustainability effect of the extreme low GWP value into consideration, it is logical to switch to CO2 as refrigerant. There are also other advantages, such as the extremely low cost of CO2 compared with other refrigerants. CO2 is a future-proof and inexpensive refrigerant that, thanks to KOMA’s research and development, is optimally aligned to the refrigeration needs of bakeries.