COMMENT: How state-of-the-art refrigeration technology is offering a flexible solution for healthcare facilities

Refrigeration and freezing regulations force manufacturers to design smaller and more energy-efficient systems

Strict refrigeration and freezing regulations are forcing suppliers to come up with low cost, low energy solutions

In response to a growing demand for cooling technology to help healthcare operators meet strict food refrigeration and freezing regulations, manufacturers are designing smaller and more energy-efficient systems, explains NICK MAY, product manager of refrigeration at Daikin UK

”Potential double-digit price rises on energy bills over the next few years are putting even more pressure on healthcare providers already facing increasing operating costs.

“At the same time, regulations for storing chilled and frozen foods are set to become even more stringent, putting hospitals and care facilities at risk of non-compliance or leaving them struggling to provide the right environment for food preparation and storage.

Regulations for storing chilled and frozen foods are set to become even more stringent, putting hospitals and care facilities at risk of non-compliance or leaving them struggling to provide the right environment for food preparation and storage

“Healthcare environments are typically areas of intensive energy consumption – with multiple requirements for lighting, refrigeration and internal climate control. This means selection of energy-efficient, reliable and cost-effective refrigeration systems is more important than ever. Finding a solution that has both low running costs and minimal maintenance requirements is crucial to cost control. Space is often restricted in these buildings and noise must be kept to a minimum to avoid disturbing patients and residents.

“Fortunately, there are refrigeration solutions that are compact, quiet and easy to install, while delivering energy performances of up to 300% - thus offering significant reductions on energy costs.

“”The latest compact refrigeration condensing units can have footprints up to 60% smaller than conventional refrigeration systems. With sound absorbent casings and programmable night settings, they also offer low noise operation and additional noise reduction modes.

“These condensing units are particularly suitable for applications with fluctuating loads and high energy efficiency requirements, such as healthcare facilities. They can deliver a range of temperatures for both low temperature (-20°C to -45°C) and medium temperature (10°C to -20°C) applications to power cold rooms, freezers and chiller cabinets.

“These compressors are much quieter than traditional units and inverter control allows operation at the lowest possible speed to meet cooling demand, thus reducing overall noise levels. Inverter driven fans with blades and grills, designed to reduce turbulence, can lower noise even further.

Daikin has built a number of solutions for all types of health and care settings

“Refrigeration systems with inverter controls also have shorter start-up times, so the required temperature is reached more quickly and temperature fluctuations are avoided.

“The inverter maintains constant temperature by continually monitoring and adjusting the temperature. This avoids cycling of the compressor. With no voltage peaks, energy consumption is therefore 30% lower than a traditional on/off system.

“This technology also means that high levels of energy efficiency are maintained, even in partial load conditions, resulting in decreased CO2 emissions and reduced operating costs.

“As an example, at the Oberhavel Kliniken in Henningsdorf, Germany, Daikin’s Zeas solution was chosen as the hospital did not have a plant room large enough to accommodate a multi-compressor system. The system offers a small footprint and outdoor installation, combined with low noise levels and lean operating costs. One unit supplies all the cold-storage cells, a second is for the workrooms and technical cold rooms, and another handles deep freezing. A compact condensing unit cools down freshly-prepared meals in the hospital kitchen.

Fortunately, refrigeration and heating technology has developed to offer owners and operators flexible, energy efficient and cost-effective solutions

“Refrigeration systems can also recapture heat generated as a by-product of refrigeration. For example, waste heat emitted by a cold-store in a hospital kitchen can be used to heat the kitchen’s hot water supply. A modular system can be designed for both small and large applications, using the same reduced piping requirements as the refrigeration system. These can reduce energy consumption by up to 50%, offering a highly-efficient way to cut energy consumption, costs and CO2 emissions further.

“The complex heating and cooling requirements of hospitals and other healthcare facilities means it is often impossible for one single solution to meet them all. Fortunately, refrigeration and heating technology has developed to offer owners and operators flexible, energy efficient and cost-effective solutions.”

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