The Mania Group, an Israeli meat producer with a chain of supermarkets and delicatessen stores, on May 17 completed the installation of its second transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration system from German OEM TEKO at a storage facility in Rishon LeZion.

About one year ago, Mania Group’s initial installation at the same facility made it the first company in Israel – and one of the few in the Middle East, due to its high ambient temperatures – to use a transcritical CO2 system, according to TEKO. Apart from the two Mania Group systems, there are no other transcritical CO2 installations in Israel, TEKO said.

The installations also mark TEKO’s first foray into the Middle East with transcritical CO2. The German manufacturer has extensive CO2 system installations in Europe, with offices also in Singapore and Thailand. As of May 21, TEKO’s website reported 5,178 installations of its CO2 systems.

The Mania Group chose transcritical CO2 systems to “future-proof” its refrigeration, reduce electricity expenses (which are high in Israel) help the environment, and reduce maintenance costs, said Nikolay Vodolzov, Founder of NIK Systems, the Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel-based contractor and installer for the project. Another reason is that “CO2 is much cheaper and [more] effective than other gases,” he said. In addition, the meat producer avoided ammonia or propane because the facility is too close “to other buildings and office centers.”

The Mania Group’s 2,400m2 (25,833ft2) meat storage warehouse has 35 low- and medium-temperature rooms, as well as cooling for an oven. In installing the two CO2 systems, the company, which supplies sausages, smoked meats and other meat products, replaced R404A systems.

The systems have a medium-temperature capacity of 192kW (54.6TR) and a low-temperature capacity of 144kW (40.9TR).Both systems are installed on the roof of the warehouse.

Heat recovery from the transcritical systems is used in a “special climate room” to control humidity and temperature, said Vodolzov.

Because the transcritical CO2 installations took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, TEKO technicians were not able to be on-site at the Mania Group’s warehouse to help with the start-ups. While some end users would be apprehensive about doing a CO2 start-up for the first-time on their own, the start-ups at the Mania Group’s warehouse went ahead successfully, with some help from TEKO via telephone and online.

“They did the start-up without our presence, based on the learnings they had, and what they did upfront; it was nice start-up,” said Simon Ahlers, TEKO’s Product Manager CO2 Systems.

Operating in high ambient temperatures

Installations of transcritical CO2 systems in the Middle East have been few because of the region’s generally high ambient temperatures, which can impede the efficiency of basic transcritical systems. In Rishon LeZion, the hot season lasts for 4.2 months, from June 7 to October 13, with an average daily high temperature above 82°F (27.8°C).

However, the initial transcritical CO2 system at the Mania Group’s warehouse has worked “perfectly in extreme high outside temperatures,” said Vodolzov. In fact, he added, the CO2 systems are twice as efficient as the old R404A system they replaced.

To compensate for the high ambient temperatures, the systems employs parallel compression.

The first transcritical system installation in the Middle East took place in 2018 at a2,000m2 (21,528ft2) Al-Salam military supermarket in Amman, Jordan, replacing an R22 system. There, ambient temperatures typically reach up to 36°C (97°F). Yet the system, which uses parallel compression and ejector technologies, was found to save 20%-30% in energy consumption over one year compared to an HFC system in a similar supermarket.

Author Ntsako Khosa