Rise Against Hunger Philippines has installed two R290-based walk-in cold rooms at its Good Food Farm.
Rise Against Hunger Philippines has installed two R290-based walk-in cold rooms at its Good Food Farm.

NGO Installs the Philippines’ First R290 Refrigeration Units from Embraco

Rise Against Hunger Philippines has installed the self-contained Plug n’ Cool units in two new walk-in cold rooms at its Good Food Farm.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines, a non-profit organization aiming to relieve hunger through the distribution of food to local communities in need, has installed two of the country’s first propane (R290)-based refrigeration units from global manufacturer Embraco, a brand of Nidec Global Appliance, at its Good Food Farm in the municipality of Magdalena, located in the Laguna province.

The two self-contained Plug n’ Cool units serve the farm’s new walk-in refrigerator and freezer, which are used to store farm produce as well as donations for Rise Against Hunger’s foodbank. The top-mounted air-cooled condensing units were installed by local contractor Cold Front Technologies Asia, which also assembled the two cold rooms.

The 11.5m3 (406ft3) refrigerator can provide temperatures of −5 to 5°C (23 to 41°F), while the 7.7m3 (271.9ft3) freezer can store products that require temperatures of −25 to −10°C (−13 to 14°F).

“This cold chain facility will help us to reach more people who are hungry and more people who are in need,” explained Jomar Fleras, Executive Director of Rise Against Hunger Philippines, in a film produced by the Cold Chain Innovation Hub (CCI Hub).

According to Jan Dusek, Head of Global Partnership at the CCI-Hub and Co-Founder of ATMOsphere, publisher of Hydrocarbons21.com, this installation is the third demonstration project to receive co-financing from the Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines (FCC) via the CCI-Hub.

The project also included the installation of two walk-in refrigerators and one walk-in freezer – all served by three of Embraco’s Plug n’ Cool units – at a separate Rise Against Hunger distribution facility in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

To date, the FCC project, in cooperation with the CCI-Hub, has overseen the delivery of six pilot projects covering a range of applications throughout the cold chain, including a transcritical CO2 (R744) cold storage facility, transport and off-grid facilities, adds Dusek in a recent LinkedIn post.

The FCC project aims to encourage the development of low-carbon and energy-efficient refrigeration technologies and business practices throughout the Philippines’ 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.

“This cold chain facility will help us to reach more people who are hungry and more people who are in need.”

Jomar Fleras, Rise Against Hunger Philippines

Leapfrogging to NatRefs

At present, there are around 600,000 pallet positions installed across the country, but, thanks to a growing population, economic recovery from COVID-19 and changes in consumption patterns, the national demand for industrial refrigeration is increasing.

With a projected 10% annual growth rate and a $40 billion (€36.9 billion) investment boost from the government over the next five years, the Philippines’ cold storage sector is set to undergo significant change, explained Emilio Gonzalez La’O, President of Cold Front, during his presentation at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2024, which was held in Tokyo February 6–7.

While R22 and R404a are still commonly used in the Philippines’ cold chain, he said that the country must transition to sustainable alternatives.

“Our philosophy as a company is to leapfrog from these systems to natural refrigerants,” he added. “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 said. “We’re seeing a change in preferences, and the Philippines is really looking toward natural refrigerant technologies.”

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

Emilio Gonzalez La’O, Cold Front

Beyond cold storage

Cold Front is supporting the transition to natural refrigerants across the Philippines’ entire cold chain, from cold storage and processing to transport and retail.

For retail, approximately 70% of the plug-in refrigeration units sold by Cold Front in the Philippines are R290, explained Gonzalez La’O during his presentation. The company was also the first to install a propane-based waterloop system in 2021.

In addition to reducing maintenance costs for the supermarket, the R290 waterloop system has cut energy use by 18.5% compared to its previous R404a plug-ins and reduced air-conditioning demand by avoiding excess heat emissions from the store’s display cases.

For mobile refrigeration, Cold Front has introduced Austrian manufacturer pbx’s R290-based ECOS M24 refrigeration unit to the Philippine market. The lightweight unit enables 15% higher payload, reduces fuel costs and contains just 140g (4.94oz) of propane per unit, said Gonzalez La’O.

The product was first introduced to the market in January 2023 at the CCI-Hub as a proof of concept, and two end users – InsightSCS and Ideamorphosis – will soon be receiving a total of five trucks fitted with the mobile R290 refrigeration unit.

The company is also “pioneering” CO2-based refrigeration with its industrial customers, he added.

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