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The proof is in the eating

Cooked burgers from air cycle heat pumps? Nicholas Cox tells us more

I was in Bristol recently for the final meeting of LINK AFM 224, a project to develop environmentally friendly, energy efficient, rapid heating and cooling systems for the food Industry.

In a superb example of turning swords into ploughshares, the very clever people at FRPERC have succeeded in re-engineering components from a Eurofighter aeroplane into an air cycle heat pump which simultaneously cooks and freezes food.

One objection to air cycle refrigeration is its perceived low COP, but an electric cooker can only ever have a COP of 1. An air cycle heat pump can do better, even when delivering its heat at over +180 deg C. Moreover, once the device is regarded as a high efficiency cooker, the refrigerating effect can be considered free cooling. I’ve utilised free cooling before, but never managed to get useful amounts of energy below +12c. This device can deliver its free cooling at less than -85 deg C.

The other objection to air cycle is cost, and if this technology is commercialised then yes, it will be expensive. But the one thing that unites the proponents of F-Gases, ammonia, CO2 and hydrocarbons is an acknowledgment that the successful widespread deployment of their favourite refrigerant is dependent on raising the quality standard of refrigeration engineers and no one has yet come up with a credible plan to fund the necessary training. Air cycle equipment could be installed by compressed air engineers or ventilation ductwork fitters, so maybe the true cost of air cycle could be attractive after all?

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating, and as you can see, we produced perfectly cooked burgers from one end of the device and perfectly frozen ones from the other. Gas barbeques are clearly last century’s technology.

My only concern is that if this technology is deployed it will be competition for my two patented low temperature refrigerants, ECP717 and ECP744. C’est la vie.