Vilter Subcritical CO2
Vilter Subcritical CO2 Single-Screw Compressor. Image via Copeland.

Vilter Subcritical CO2 Single-Screw Compressor Replaces Two Reciprocating CO2 Compressors at Lithuanian Food Plant

The compressor is the first Vilter-branded subcritical CO2 single-screw compressor installed in Europe.

U.S. manufacturer Copeland has published a case study detailing the installation of its first-ever Vilter-branded subcritical CO2 (R744) single-screw compressor in Europe, which replaced two reciprocating CO2 compressors at a Lithuanian food manufacturing facility.

It was installed in 2021, with the screw compressor replacing two reciprocating CO2 compressors on the low side of an industrial ammonia (R717)/CO2 cascade system. The high side’s four Vilter ammonia single-screw compressors continue to operate as part of the refrigeration system.

The decision to install the Vilter subcritical CO2 single-screw compressor was driven by maintenance issues with the reciprocating CO2 compressors.The plant, which manufactures baked goods and snacks, had scheduled twice-yearly preventive maintenance for the compressors, with each visit lasting five days. Despite this, and after addressing an oil carry-over issue, the CO2 reciprocating compressors still required “excessive” maintenance, according to Copeland.

An increasing number of unplanned emergency repairs that disrupted production prompted plant management to seek out a new solution.

“[The] simple and effective design of our Vilter ammonia single-screw compressors had a reputation throughout Europe as a durable compressor requiring minimal maintenance,” Copeland said.

Plant management, working alongside Copeland and the Lithuanian distributor/contractor Genys, sought to deploy a similar approach on the low side with a CO2 single-screw compressor.

The new screw compressor ‒ “ideal” for subcritical applications, according to Copeland ‒ almost doubled the refrigeration capacity of the previous two units with 830kW (236TR) at −40°C (−40°F) evaporation and −7°C (19°F) condensation temperatures.

“Since completing the system upgrade in late 2021, the production facility has enjoyed reduced maintenance demands,” Copeland said, with the CO2 reciprocating compressors “repurposed” for system redundancy.

Along with upgrading the low side of the system, the retrofit addressed the system’s faulty capacity control mechanism that prevented output from matching refrigeration load fluctuations.

“We are proud to contribute to the customer’s efficiency objectives while helping them to achieve their environmental sustainability goals with the first installation of a Vilter CO2 single-screw compressor in Europe,” said Genys CEO Mindaugas Zabiela.

The Vilter subcritical CO2 compressor line, designed for operating pressures up to 52bar (754psi), offers capacities from 528 to 2,972kW (150 to 845TR) for low-temperature applications at −20°F SST/20°F SCT (−28.9°C SST/−6.7°C SCT) and ultra-low temperature at −40°F SST/20°F SCT (−40°C SST/−6.7°C SCT) for capacities from 327 to 1,706kW (93 to 485TR).

TC CO2 screw compressors

Earlier this year, Copeland announced it had commenced production of its first Vilter-branded transcritical CO2 single-screw compressor for industrial applications. The company stated that the unit, now available on the North American market, was “developed in response to increasing industry demand.”

The transcritical CO2 single-screw compressor line, designed for operating pressures up to 124bar (1,800psig), offers capacities from 587.3 to 1,287.2kW (167 to 366TR) for medium temperature at 20°F SST/85°F gas cooler (−6.7°C SST/29.4°C gas cooler) temperature. Double units, sharing common oil management and control systems, provide capacities ranging from 1,174.6 to 2,574.3kW (334 to 732TR).

In a presentation at the IAR 2024 Expo in Orlando, Florida, Lauren MacGowens, Director of Sustainability Engineering for Vilter by Copeland, outlined the advantages of the technology and the potential market.

According to MacGowens, in industrial applications, a single CO2 screw compressor can replace multiple racks of CO2 reciprocating compressors with a system that is easier to install and maintain with less piping and leak points.

“We are seeing a drive to CO2 that is unprecedented,” MacGowens said, with transcritical CO2 offering a future-proof solution without the regulatory requirements of ammonia. Through 2030, Vilter projects a 20% annual growth rate for total market spending on CO2 systems.

At the 2023 ATMOsphere America summit, the Best in Sector/Industrial award went to Canadian utility Hydro-Québec for installing a CO2-based water-to-water heat pump with a Vilter transcritical CO2 screw compressor.

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