Apache Junction, Ariz., is one of the harshest and hottest climates in the United States. Keeping refrigerated food fixtures cold when ambient temperatures frequently exceed 100°F — and sometimes exceed 115° — is a daunting task. Because of the extreme high temperatures in the area and roof temperatures exceeding 130°, air-cooled condensers are not considered an option.

Last winter Burke Alford, maintenance manager for the Safeway supermarkets, was faced with the dilemma of replacing another evaporative condenser. The water in Apache Junction is extremely hard and raised havoc with the copper tube bundles, according to Alford. And, since the supermarket chain believes in environmental stewardship, the solution had to include a way to save an enormous amount of water.

All those factors caused decision-makers to consider a new hybrid condenser technology. When Burke first learned about the prospect of using hybrid condensers, he said he was a bit reluctant to use the approach because he had no firsthand experience with such condensers.

But Paul Noreen from Muller Industries, manufacturer of such condensers, was onsite for the retrofit and reassured Burke that the project would go smoothly. After the retrofit completion in Apache Junction, Burke said he was a believer and realized that there is nothing mysterious or complicated with hybrid condensers.

According to Noreen, “The main advantage to using a hybrid condenser versus an evaporative condenser is the enormous water savings seen in the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Safeway has seen significant water savings in just 12 months of operation.”

He added, “Another advantage to using the hybrid condenser is the modular design where each condenser serves an individual refrigeration rack. During service this offers an advantage of not having to turn off the entire store refrigeration load for service.”

It was noted that Safeway is considering another Phoenix location at which to use the condensers and has placed an order for five such condensers for a Northern California location.

For more information, go to www.mullerna.com.

Publication date: 04/23/2012