Food Lover’s Market (FLM), a franchised supermarket and convenience store chain serving Southern Africa, recently installed its first transcritical CO2 booster system in a new store in Ferndale, a suburb of Johannesburg – but not before overcoming an installation challenge.

Capetown, South Africa-based FLM, which franchises 120 grocery stores and 200 Fresh Stop convenience stores, decided to go with CO2 because it is a “future proof solution” and a “cost effective option” fitting in with the chain’s sustainability program, according to Jocelyn Kettle, business development coordinator with Commercial Refrigeration Services (CRS).

CRS, the South African OEM that designed and installed the new system,  is the largest provider of CO2 systems in South Africa, having installed 115 systems worldwide over the past 10 years (105 in South Africa). Yet this particular job offered a unique challenge.

The new Ferndale store, which opened on June 27, is located in a building formerly housing another retailer. The plant room, previously on the second floor, was moved to a much smaller space on the third (top) floor; CRS had to design and install a new refrigeration system, including the compressor rack and condensers, to fit into a room only a third of the size previously used. 

On top of this, CRS also had to work the piping around the ducting and electrics of an existing AC system. This they managed to do, creating a system that in terms of footprint is “very impressive,” according to Kettle.

“CO2 being a cheaper gas, and it being a notably more energy efficient, it has potential to have a very high ROI”

Jocelyn Kettle, CRS

The transcritical system has a total capacity of 235 kW (66.8 TR), with 177 kW (50.3 TR) medium temperature and 58 kW (16.5 TR) low temperature. It has been designed for an ambient temperature of 32°C (89.6°F) and serves a store of 2,673 m2 (28,772 ft2) located 1,700 m (5,577 ft) above sea level. The system also has heat reclaim incorporated, and makes no use of electricity to generate hot water

“The system is quiet, manageable from a central point, and all data can be easily collated,” said Arthur Woest, project manager for FLM.  “Therefore, feedback collected can assist with preventing any potential liabilities that can result in stock loss.”

The Ferndale store has only been open since late June, so FLM and CRS have no data on its energy performance yet, but according to Kettle it “seems to be running under great performance.”

The initial costs of the system have been “slightly higher” than traditional HFC systems, but with “CO2 being a cheaper gas, and it being a notably more energy efficient, it has potential to have a very high ROI,” Kettle said.

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