Food manufacturer BM Foods – the holding company of South African food brand Mediterranean Delicacies – has become the first food manufacturing company in South Africa to use a carbon dioxide- (CO2-) driven refrigeration system at its Cape Town factory.
“With the more aggressive cooling potential of CO2, the plant’s actual cooling time has decreased. Further, the facility gets free heating for all its hot water requirements through the heat exchanger,” says BM Foods CEO Costas Vayanos.
The installation, which took two months to complete, was finalised in May this year. Covering more than 1 200 m2, the refrigeration unit uses 100% environment-friendly gas, and was also integrated with a heat exchanger, which, in turn, converts waste energy into heat.
BM Foods prides itself on the new installation and boasts that the Cape Town factory is now even more environment friendly.
“We no longer need electrically heated hot water cylinders in our facility. This, combined with the 30% of solar power used, has reduced the factory’s carbon footprint significantly,” asserts Vayanos.
He adds that BM Foods has six facilities, of which four require refrigeration. BM Foods hopes to convert them to the CO2 refrigeration system as and when upgrades are needed.
“‘We are privileged to have a cutting-edge supplier in the field, who assisted with creating this unique refrigeration technique,” says Vayanos.
Refrigeration specialist Mainstream Refrigeration secured the R5-million contract for the refrigeration system. Mainstream Refrigeration MD Richard Drinkrow advises that CO2 is a natural gas that is recovered from the atmosphere and, if there are any leaks, this simply returns to the atmosphere.
Drinkrow adds that CO2 was the original gas used in the 1930s for refrigeration, but which has subsequently been ousted by more modern gases such as hydro-chlorofluorocarbons and hydro-fluorocarbons. However, the damage caused by these gases and other pollutants to the ozone layer has resulted in increased global pressure to protect the environment, and revert back to CO2 as the gas of choice.
“Using CO2 in refrigeration systems will assist in making small, yet impactful improvements to our environment and the world,” stresses Drinkrow.
Mediterranean Delicacies has said that returning to natural gases as a means of refrigeration is a vital step forward. “We are highly motivated to be the South African leader in environment-friendly practices in the food manufacturing industry.”
Vayanos concludes that “using the CO2 refrigeration technique brings us one step closer to achieving this goal”.