Over the past few years, the De Zeeuw brothers in the Noordoost Polder have been replacing their obsolete refrigeration systems. To store their carrots and potatoes, they decided to install new refrigeration systems that use ammonia, CO2 and propane as refrigerants, and their energy bill dropped significantly as a result. And after six months of refrigerated storage, the already high quality of the carrots and the potatoes was still excellent.
‘The overhaul was worth it,’ says Hans de Zeeuw of Gebr. De Zeeuw. ‘The evaporators allow for good distribution of the cooling air with a slight temperature difference, so the carrots lose less weight during storage. We’re using natural refrigerants and we’re producing environmentally-friendly vegetables, and that’s fiscally attractive.’
With a surface area of 500 hectares, the De Zeeuw brothers’ farm is one of the largest in the Noordoost Polder. The main crops are carrots, seed potatoes, onions, grain and sugar beet. The farm has been using industrial refrigeration since 1974. Hans de Zeeuw: ‘We cultivate 60 hectares of carrots and 200 hectares of seed potatoes in Nagele and Emmeloord. And we need to store all of that produce for six months at the right temperature to preserve the quality.’
The carrots are harvested in the autumn and are stored until June in the five refrigeration units, each capable of accommodating fifteen hundred crates. ‘The quality of the carrots starts in the soil,’ continues De Zeeuw. ‘The challenge is to preserve that quality in the cooling cell. With the old cooling cell, that was becoming more and more difficult. The system was breaking down a lot and the energy consumption was high.’
‘The quality of the carrots starts in the soil. The challenge is to preserve that quality in the cooling cell'
‘That’s why we started looking for a reliable, energy-efficient refrigeration system that preserves the quality of the carrots as much as possible. We decided on a new ammonia-driven refrigeration system from EQUANS (formerly known as ENGIE Refrigeration), mainly because of its energy-efficient attributes. ENGIE was one of the first suppliers to start working with natural refrigerants.’
After the farm’s positive experience with the new refrigeration units for carrots, in 2011 and 2013 they asked EQUANS to replace the refrigeration systems for the seed potatoes too. De Zeeuw: ‘We started by replacing a small system that ran on the synthetic R22 refrigerant. EQUANS proposed a system with CO2 and propane − an energy-efficient system with a higher refrigeration capacity. We liked it so much that we decided to replace the second system as well. And that second system really helped us to radically reduce our energy consumption.’
Our decision to work with EQUANS was a logical one, says De Zeeuw. ‘We were looking for an experienced and reliable partner, and EQUANS was the obvious choice. Their technicians are very knowledgeable and experienced and feel just as responsible for our refrigeration systems as we do. We were looking for quality and that’s what we got.’