Europe Showcases New Ice-Making Technology

October 31, 2001
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HANNOVER, Germany — The annual International Trade Fair for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Ventilation (IKK) often sends signals from Europe to U.S. contractors concerning technological changes overseas that could eventually have an impact stateside. The 22nd annual IKK here was no exception.

Two notable issues concerned ice machines and refrigerants. In the ice machine sector, there was an increased emphasis on technology involving rotating evaporator drums that do away with harvest cycles and augers. It is a method just getting attention in the United States, but its presence at IKK was more extensive than it has ever been. It seems virtually every one of the more than a dozen European ice maker manufacturers were showing variations on the technology.

The refrigerant issue is a bit murky for the United States. But one thing is clear in Europe: Efforts to do away with HFCs are on the increase among environmental groups and some governmental agencies. It is not clear if this push in Europe will reach U.S. shores — or even succeed totally in Europe. The U.S. government is showing little interest in an HFC-less society. And, for the most part, manufacturers and trade associations in Europe are continuing to advocate HFCs.



ICE MACHINES

With rotating evaporator ice machine technology starting to catch on in the United States, the advocates of such a method in Europe used IKK to emphasize other aspects of the process.

A variety of shaved, flaked, and scale ice came off cutting blades of the machines. In most cases, the ice was used for the aesthetics of food display and the practicality of cold storage on fishing trawlers.

The Spanish company Equipos Frigorificos Compactos featured Ice-Pak, which uses a rotating evaporator to produce what the company said was especially dry ice for long life. Applications included the fish industry, as well as hotel and restaurant kitchens.

Maja of Germany differentiated its flake ice product from “snow ice” popular with several European companies. “Maja flake ice is completely dry frozen as its temperature of about -7?C is very low. The ice flakes do not stick together and the ice can be handled and stocked without lumping.”

The company also added that the equipment was offered with a UV-disinfection system.

A German company called Higel focused on the dry ice approach with a small wall-mounted machine able to produce up to 120 kg of ice in 24 hours at -7? to -8?C.

Scale ice was also touted by Funk of Germany.

One of the most innovative approaches in equipment was by the German company Ziegra. Designed for trawlers, the unit can work with fresh water, salt water, or a slush-like ice that the company called StreamIce. In order to allow incoming water to be frozen without losing cooling capacity, water flowed from a storage container in the machine and found its own level in the ice making cycle. The cylinder was surrounded by an evaporating coil so that the water was frozen on the inside of the cylinder. The ice was then pushed from the cylinder in a thin layer upwards. Then it was pressed hard, frozen further, and broken off for end use.

A variation on that approach was the fluid ice system of the German company Buco. In this case, ice was transported to what was called a “fluid ice system” by a conveyor belt from the ice storage unit. Ice water and brine (or seawater) were mixed together and turned into a pumpable fluid ice.

The international company Enodis, operating at the show out of German offices, showed a shaved ice concept that booth officials said could be practical in hot climates. The shaved ice can be used instead of water in concrete work.

Weber of Germany offered a modular approach with units that can be suspended under a ceiling or mounted on a wall.

Wessamat of Germany had a rocking evaporator with the ice sloshing back and forth to create uniform ice. The company had also added equipment from the stateside company Kold-Draft to its product line.

Some European companies did follow the more traditional harvest cycle approach, with some variations.

At the booth of Nordcap of Germany, a unit that officials said was made by Scotsman of Italy showed an evaporator with a single line of horizontal cubes. The harvest cycle was said to take about 20 minutes. Daily production was listed as 147 kg.

One of the smaller units was from Buus of Denmark. The unit was said to work with salt or fresh water. The company claimed the connection could be made just by hooking up the water line and plugging in the unit.



A German company called Higel focused on the dry ice approach with a small wall-mounted machine.

REFRIGERANTS

While major refrigerant manufacturers continued to promote the long-term viability of HFCs, one company that packages HCs, Calor of England, used the show to claim “Europeans fight for HFC cuts.” The company contended that Denmark, Austria, Lux-embourg, Sweden, and Norway have all gone on record trying to force reduced use of HFCs, either through outright phaseouts or high taxes on HFCs.

Noting the Danish government’s decision, Calor claimed, “Environmental moves in Denmark are always keenly watched by other European states as they have, in the past, heralded future European-wide legislation. Their stringent controls on the use of synthetic refrigerants could be the shape of things to come in Britain.”

For the most part, worldwide manufacturers of refrigerants were pushing to keep HFCs as long-term refrigerants and were waging campaigns to show the importance and value of such refrigerants.

Some were also using the show to clarify who they were. For example, Klea, a familiar name in the United States, was present under the name Ineos Fluor, based in the U.K. Ineos acquired ICI Klea earlier in 2001. Klea, one of three brand names within the company, encompassed long-term refrigerants for refrigeration and air conditioning. The brand name Arcton encompassed interim refrigerants, while the brand name Zephex was related to medical propellants.

At the booth of Uniqema, a trademark of the ICI Group, emphasis was on lubricants for various HFC refrigerants.

And the search goes on for even more HFC alternatives. Honeywell Fluorine Products announced the use of HFC-245fa (labeled as Enovate™ 3000) as a blowing agent, but added it is looking at the refrigerant for possible use in low-temperature chillers.

Meanwhile the company, which previously had acquired AlliedSignal, continued to advocate use of HFCs 404A, 507, 410A and 407C in various refrigeration and air conditioning applications. Its commitment to such refrigerants was reflected in plans to double the capacity of its fluorocarbon production facility in Geismer, LA, where many of the HFCs are made.

DuPont, operating at the show through its offices in Germany, provided detailed information in the German language on how to use R-404A instead of R-502 in refrigeration applications.

Solvay Fluor (with offices in Germany, France, South America, and the U.S.) noted its ability to supply a wide range of fluorocompounds as well as inorganic fluorides.

Another company from England with designs on America was A-Gas, with a wide range of familiar interim and long term refrigerants.

National Refrigerants (Phil-adelphia, PA) maintained its presence as a supplier of refrigerants and reclamation services.

In the cylinder category, Worthington (Columbus, OH with offices in Portugal and the Czech Republic) noted it had “refillable steel refrigerant cylinders in Europe to meet European and other international needs.”

Support for continued use of HFCs also came from the VDKF, a German contractors association. It was reported that two of the association’s main thrusts were improvements in leak testing and in the curbing of refrigerant leaks. Regulations were being developed that would require an annual leak test for facilities with 3kg or more of refrigerant.

The show also produced talk about secondary loop technology. One of the newest secondary loop coolants was called Freezium™ from Kemira of Finland. The manufacturer contended that this is a better option than glycol. The product was said to have low viscosity, good thermal conductivity, and high specific heat capacity.

Along the same line, DEM Production AB of Sweden offered a line of parts for secondary loop including two- and three-way solenoid motor valve units and capillary/actuator units.

One company at the show that claimed to come up with no-HCFC, no oil change “drop-in” was Refrigerant Products Ltd. of England. Its product, RS-44, was in development stages. Booth officials did not offer what was in the blend, but did say it had a minimal amount of an HC. The company said it is planning to try to secure U.S. EPA SNAP approval in the hopes of bringing the product to the United States.



Technology from Ziegra was designed for trawlers. The unit can work with fresh water, salt water, or a slush-like ice that the company called Streamice.

Sidebar: Where Cooling Really Counts

Europeans pride themselves on being able to do without air conditioning much better than folks living in the U.S. But where is precise cooling really critical?

In the wine cellar, of course. That’s why the continent can give thanks to Frigopol of Germany, which included in its exhibit at IKK a technology called Vinotech. It is a specialized chiller for use in the winemaking process. “It helps guarantee cellar production of the highest quality standard on a long-term basis,” according to the company.

Key to the product is microprocessor technology and Windows software. “The number of processes and the curve diagram can be established according to the cellar technique’s master standard,” the company contended. In addition, “Vinotech even offers a software surface to input hand-measured parameters; e.g., sugar content, acidness, and density, which can be evaluated graphically or in tabular form.”

Lest critics wonder about focusing so much attention on producing a glass of wine, the company said the technology and software has applications beyond the cellar.

Publication date: 11/05/2001

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