The CO2 system includes an outdoor gas cooler and evaporator from Güntner. (Source: CCI-Hub)
The CO2 system includes an outdoor gas cooler and evaporator from Güntner. (Source: CCI-Hub)

Cold Front Technologies Installs the Philippines’ First CO2-Based Blast Freezer

Preliminary data suggest the R744 system will reduce energy use by 75% compared to the facility’s previous ammonia-based blast freezer.

Filipino contractor Cold Front Technologies Asia has installed the country’s first CO2 (R744)-based blast freezer at Igloo Supply Chain Philippines’ food processing facility in Pasig City, near Manila.

The 25kW (7.1TR)-capacity CO2 Super Green unit from Japanese manufacturer Nihon Netsugen (NNS) serves Igloo’s 28m3 (988.8ft3) cold room and has been operational since December 2023. The system also includes an outdoor gas cooler and evaporator from German manufacturer Güntner. Both NNS and Güntner have received the ATMO Approved Natural Refrigerants Label from ATMOsphere, published of NaturalRefrigerants.com.

According to Noel Angelo Cahayag, Facility and Maintenance Assistant Manager at Igloo, the company’s new CO2 system, which replaced its 15-year-old ammonia (R717)-based blast freezer, has been operating well.

“Although it’s had very limited use so far, the data provided is very promising,” explained Emilio Gonzalez La’O, President of Cold Front. “It’s using approximately one quarter of the energy used by the previous ammonia system, so we’re looking forward to further data from Igloo.”

“It’s using approximately one quarter of the energy used by the previous ammonia system, so we’re looking forward to further data from Igloo.”

Emilio Gonzalez La’O, Cold Front Technologies Asia

Since its installation, the blast freezer has been used to process coconut water, coconut milk, salmon and salmon belly.

The Philippines’ cold chain

This installation is one of the 10 demonstration projects to receive co-financing under the Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines (FCC) via the Cold Chain Innovation (CCI) Hub.

The pilot projects are designed to help demonstrate how improved cold chains can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, operational costs and food loss in the Philippines.

Projects must use low-carbon, natural refrigerant-based technologies to be eligible for funding, which can cover up to 80% of project costs.

Other projects to receive FCC co-financing include plug-in propane (R290) refrigeration units at a non-profit farming project, the Philippines’ first transcritical CO2-based cold chain facility, transport and off-grid facilities.

Beyond the pilot projects, the FCC aims to encourage the development of low-carbon and energy-efficient refrigeration technologies and business practices throughout the country’s food cold chain. It is a collaboration between the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Global Environment Fund, TESDA and ATMOsphere, publisher of NaturalRefrigerants.com.

To further facilitate the transition to efficient, climate-friendly cold chain technologies in the Philippines, the government recently passed the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Law, which provides for fiscal incentives for simple and complex energy efficiency projects.

Cold chain investments may also make use of Green Lanes, which expedite regulatory compliance procedures for priority investments.

NatRefs in the Philippines

Having ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in November 2022, the Philippines has committed to phasing down its production and consumption of HFCs by 80% by 2045 compared to its average rate between 2020 and 2022.

To support the HFC phasedown, the Philippines must transition from the commonly used R22 and R404A to sustainable alternatives like CO2, explained Gonzalez La’O during his presentation at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2024, which was held in Tokyo February 6–7.

“Our philosophy as a company is to leapfrog from these systems to natural refrigerants,” he said. “We see great potential in natural refrigerants in the Philippines with the backing of the public and private sectors and the availability of the technology and training provided by our government.”

“We believe the time is now,” he added. “We’re seeing a change in preferences, and the Philippines is really looking toward natural refrigerant technologies.”

“We see great potential in natural refrigerants in the Philippines with the backing of the public and private sectors and the availability of the technology and training provided by our government.”

Emilio Gonzalez La’O, Cold Front Technologies Asia

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