Eco2Dairy Image from iStock 1213727367
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New Zealand Company Introduces ‘World’s First’ On-Farm CO2 Milk Cooling

The patented R744 Eco2Dairy system has been developed by Auckland-based Cold Energy Technology and includes heat recovery.

Natural refrigerant specialist Cold Energy Technology (CET), based in Auckland, New Zealand, has introduced the Eco2Dairy — a CO2 (R744) on-farm milk cooling system, billed as a “world’s first” in the dairy industry.

“With the Eco2Dairy “we are able to cool the milk, heat the water, use less energy, and have a significantly lower impact on the environment while we are doing that,” said Matthew Darby, Director of CET.

New Zealand has a huge dairy industry, with around 11,500 dairy farms in the country. If the Eco2Dairy was installed on all these farms, it would have the potential to save 263,250 metric tons of CO2e per year from the country’s emissions, according to a statement from CET. This corresponds to 3.7% of New Zealand’s emissions reductions target.

It would also save the country 325GWh per year in energy consumption, which is equal to 0.85% of the total national energy use, according to CET. The higher energy efficiency of the Eco2Dairy, compared to traditional on-farm milk cooling systems, can also help the farmers save costs in the long run, as refrigeration normally makes up around 30% of the on-farm energy costs, according to CET.

Happy farmer

The Eco2Dairy has a patented technology that can cool milk down to 2°C (35.6°F) almost “instantly,” and it is equipped with heat recovery to produce hot water on the farm.

“The beauty of this is, [the milk] goes into the vat at exactly the right temperature — you’ve got 37°C milk that goes down to 1.8°C in that short space of time,” said dairy farmer Judy Garshaw. “That’s mindboggling. It just does not allow time for bacteria to grow.” The speedy pulldown time is important, as “milk cooling is primary to the quality of the product,” Garshaw explained.

The faster cooldown of the milk also means better returns for the farmers, as they are able to exceed New Zealand compliance and quality requirements, and at the same time have less wastage and higher value yields, according to CET.

“We are able to cool the milk, heat the water, use less energy, and have a significantly lower impact on the environment while we are doing that”

– Matthew Darby, CET

In addition to the cooling capabilities of the new technology, the large amounts of heat that can be recovered when using R744 technology has also proven useful to Garshaw. The Eco2Dairy can provide 80°C hot water without needing any additional energy input.

“I’m so sold on my cold milk that it’s just a bonus having the hot water, but it is a bonus none the less,” she explained. “The upside is that we need to use this hot water, so our plant hygiene is second to none now as well.”

“There’s been no downside, there is no downside,” said a satisfied Garshaw.

What next?

Development of the Eco2Dairy system started in 2010 after Matthew Darby visited a friend’s dairy farm.

“Like many other dairy farmers, my friend was using cooling systems that were from the stone age. It kept malfunctioning, resulting in a lot of milk waste. It wasn’t environmentally sustainable and was getting more and more expensive to operate,” Darby explained about how he got the idea for the Eco2Dairy.

In order to spread the word about the new environmentally friendly CO2 technology, CET launched a crowd funding campaign on August 4.  The company aims to penetrate 2.5% of New Zealand dairy farms with the Eco2Dairy product by 2025.

“The equity raised will be used to implement a strong sales program, further the ongoing R&D projects and scale the working capital capabilities, helping us to expand our reach to farmers across New Zealand and beyond,” CET said.

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