South Creek Dairy, a dairy farm based in Earlmart, California (U.S.), has finished commissioning a 100HP CO2 (R744)-based chiller system from PRO Refrigeration, a 31-year-old company that specializes in packaged chillers for craft beer producers, wineries and dairy farms.

South Creek Dairy is owned by Christopher Jongsma, whose uncle Bill Jongsma was the first dairy farmer to install the “PROGreen” CO2 chiller at his farm in Pixley, California, last year. It is considered the first chiller of its kind to be made in the U.S.

This year, Alaska-based microbrewery Denali Brewing and Spirits installed the CO2 chiller to cool its ready-to-drink cocktails.

PRO Refrigeration, based in Auburn, Washington, partnered with San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment, a California provider of wholesale machinery and equipment for dairy farms, to install the chiller at South Creek Dairy, which uses it for cooling and heating applications.

“We owe a big thanks to both the Jongsma Family and the team at San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment for stepping up and partnering on these initial projects,” said Jim VanderGiessen, PRO’s CEO, in a statement.“They are helping us prove that CO2, or R744, is a real solution that dairy producers need to consider today.”

The first phase of the installation included switching from an old chiller system to the new R744-based system. The first three milking sessions, with over 3,900 cows milked per session, proceeded with final milk temperatures of 37.5°F (3°C).

The second phase involved setting up the “PROHeat2o” Onboard Heat Recovery System. The teams worked together on an updated hot water piping strategy that heats water to 170°F (77°C) without using any propane or natural gas.

“The installation and startup of this chiller system went very smooth this week,” said Ben Anders, Installation Manager for San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment. “Really, there were no major obstacles to overcome, and overall, this week has gone extremely well.”

Learning about the system

Training has been a big part of the chiller’s installation.

Christopher Jongsma, South Creek Dairy’s owner, with his grandfather John, traveled to PRO’s production facility in Mocksville, North Carolina, in July to learn about the system. Damon Reed, leader of the PROGreen Solutions team, introduced them to transcritical and subcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration and provided hands-on equipment training that included CO2 safety. Christopher also made several visits to his uncle Bill’s farm to view the system in operation.

“Damon and I talked about the value of the training sessions (in North Carolina) many times this week,” noted Christopher. “To be involved as an owner and have an understanding of how the system operates and the fine-tuning, it has been a great experience.”

Reed added that field commissioning of the system always starts off with a group training session, with many of the same technicians previously involved in the first CO2 chiller project. “The group training allowed everyone the chance to get their questions answered and set the stage for a smooth commissioning this week,” he said.

Two more PROGreen chiller projects scheduled in the San Joaquin Valley, California, region.

In recognition of its CO2 chiller, PRO received the 2022 EnVisioneer of the Year award from Danish manufacturer Danfoss last August.

 “To be involved as an owner and have an understanding of how the system operates and the fine-tuning, it has been a great experience.”

Christopher Jongsma, Owner, South Creek Dairy