K./Bristol. Researchers at the University of Bristol have launched a government-funded project for improving the energy efficiency of food refrigeration operations and techniques.
The aim is to cut energy use in the UK's food processing plants by accurately determining the major food refrigeration sectors and identifying technologies to reduce energy costs.
In the UK, there are between 1500 to 2000 food and drink manufacturing sites that are major users of refrigeration, accounting for over 4,500 GWh of electrical energy consumption. The food and drink sector is stipulated to achieve a primary specific energy consumption of 899.6 kWh per tonne of throughput by 2010. And about half their electricity is consumed in refrigeration processes.
It is estimated that refrigeration systems use as much as 15 percent of the total energy consumed worldwide.
Current findings indicate that the dairy industry is likely to be the highest user of refrigeration. If it is assumed that all this milk is chilled from 37ºC down to 4ºC then approximately 240 GWh of energy has to be extracted per year.
The second most important sector is probably the meat industry, having an annual UK slaughtered production totalling 1,721,000 tonnes. If we assume that all this meat is chilled from 37ºC down to 4ºC, then the energy that needs to be extracted is approximately 60 GWh per year.
Similarly 654,000 tonnes of fish require 6 GWh of energy to cool.
Source: University of Bristol