Simon Lor-saw’s innovative CO2 refrigeration system design for a dairy processing facility has won him the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (“Best Craftsman in France”) honor – a title he gets to keep for life. His innovative project allows cheese to ripen in only three weeks instead of the usual six to eight months. 

“Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (MOF) is a skills competition in France, held every four years for local artisans over 23 by the French Ministry of Labor. It aims to evaluate the dexterity, knowledge of modern and traditional techniques, know-how and creativity of candidates representing over 200 different professions, with artisans representing 16 industries. This was the first time that a refrigeration category was introduced to the competition. Along with the title, winners receive a medal and state diploma. 

A tough competition

It wasn’t easy winning; it took a lot of hard work and dedication, explained Lor-saw (29) who had to put aside his family and work long nights, holidays and weekends, even ending up in hospital from sheer overexertion. “I worked day and night for four years, only sleeping three or four hours a night,” said Lor-saw, who was still doing his normal work every day – on top of all the work required for MoF. But in the end, it all paid off. “It took a few days to sink in after they phoned me to announce the results – I am now the number one refrigeration technician in France,” he said. 

The MOF competition’s first qualifying rounds started in September 2017 comprising a written and oral presentation of an innovative and environmentally friendly installation. Lor-saw’s project was based on a CO2 refrigeration system design for an organic cheese processing facility, complete with a dryer and cheese cold room. The aim was to find a way to ripen the cheese in three weeks instead of the usual six to eight months without losing any of the taste or compromising the visual quality of the product.

The next round involved putting theory into practice and Lor-saw implemented his new system at Fomagerie de Valmont, located in Côte-d’Or (Bourgogne region).

The final round took place on site in October 2018. For the final round, contestants were judged on their written project, oral test and the final implementation of report they handed it. Additionally, Lor-saw also had to hand in various reports on CO2 as a new refrigerant as part of the test.

Lor-saw has a great deal of experience working with CO2 in his previous company where they did a lot of supermarket installations. CO2 is not a new refrigerant to him, and he’s worked with it since it first came on the market – first in subcritical installations and later in transcritical. “CO2 is the future, but it requires the know-how and should be handled with great care,” said Low-saw. “This refrigerant should be adopted by small traders as well as by the industry at large.”

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