GEA Ammonia Heat Pump Cut Energy Use by 75% at Nestlé Plant
GEA Grasso V XHP High-Pressure Ammonia Reciprocating Compressor. Photo Credit: GEA.

GEA Ammonia Heat Pump Will Cut Steam Energy Use by 75% at New Nestlé Infant Formula Plant

An ammonia (R717) heat pump from GEA will enable Nestlé to reduce energy consumption from steam generation by 75% on a new production line at its expanding infant formula plant in Nunspeet, the Netherlands, according to the German OEM.

In a press release, GEA said the heat pump will provide heat to the plant’s spray dryers, which use high-temperature steam to convert liquid formula into powder. The spray dryer paired with the ammonia-powered heat pump will require 75% less energy for steam than the spray dryer used in the facility’s existing production line.

“We are already familiar with heat pumps in various production processes, but using them with spray dryers, the most energy-intensive part of the process, is something new for us,” said Gerben Koopmans, Engineering Manager at Nestlé .

GEA said that its Grasso V XHP high-pressure ammonia reciprocating compressor will form the heart of the heat pump system. The heat pump will be equipped with a heat recovery system, enabling it to reuse waste heat from the spray dryer to provide hot water for production at up to 80°C (176°F).

In addition to the heat pump paired to the spray dryer, a second GEA heat pump will supply the Nunspeet plant with hot water at up to 85°C (185°F) for use on the production line and in dehydration processes as well as cold water at 1.5°C (34.7°F) for use in air-conditioning.

“Our integrated solutions combining process technology with heating and cooling technology set a new benchmark in milk powder production because fusing the two disciplines in production planning and design implementation significantly reduces the plant’s energy consumption and carbon footprint,” said Ronald Hofland, GEA Sales Manager. contacted GEA seeking details about the heat pumps, but GEA could not disclose further information.

According to Nestlé, the heat pump systems will be installed this year, with the company receiving a subsidy for it from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. The new production line is expected to come online in 2025.

“The new plant in Nunspeet will serve as a Group-wide demonstrator for future-oriented solutions to minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in milk powder production,” said Koopmans.

As part of its “Net Zero Roadmap,” Nestlé seeks to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to a 2018 baseline. One of its milestones is to “use more renewable thermal energy in manufacturing.”

“The [Nunspeet] investment project advances Nestlé’s sustainability agenda by reducing carbon emissions, dust emissions and water demand by exploiting its renewable heat energy,” said GEA.

Tailored ammonia solutions

GEA is also providing a two-stage ammonia-based refrigeration system for the United Kingdom’s tallest cold storage facility, which will be in Easton, Lincolnshire, and is expected to be operational near the end of 2024. The facility will stand 47m (154.2ft) tall and will have a footprint of 15,000m2 (161,458ft2). Temperatures inside will reach as low as −28°C (−18.4°F), and the facility will have space for 101,000 pallet positions of frozen food products. In addition, the new building will include two floors for “value added services.”

The company is also providing U.K. beverage producer Britvic with two of its industrial RedGennium ammonia heat pumps and a thermal storage tank for use in its Beckton, London, production facility. The system design, tailored by GEA, will convert the facility’s low-temperature waste heat to production-usable 92°C (197.6°F) water.

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, GEA is one of the world’s largest suppliers of heating and cooling systems and components for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. It operates in 62 countries and has more than 18,000 employees.

“The new plant in Nunspeet will serve as a Group-wide demonstrator for future-oriented solutions to minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in milk powder production.”

Gerben Koopmans, Engineering Manager at Nestlé 

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