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WR ramps up carbon dioxide training

With a new state-of-the-art CO2 training centre, WR is rolling out a national training programme for its people at the sharp end

More than 300 installation and service engineers on WR Refrigeration’s team are to undertake training in the latest carbon dioxide cooling technology.

It is part of a major initiative by the national contractor to equip its workforce to handle the new generation of environmentally friendlier technology, which is now coming on-stream.

The company believes that the current concern among end users over the long term future of today’s mainstream HFC refrigerants will lead to new directions being taken in the future. In response, it is gearing up to meet anticipated demand for alternative technology.

Hugh Cole, WR Refrigeration’s managing director, says: “There is a lot of interest in natural refrigerants and among them carbon dioxide is a strong contender. 

It is likely that it will have an important role to play in the future. It may not take over from traditional technology in all applications, but we believe it is going to be a significant part of the overall mix.”

The company has opened a state-of-the-art demonstration facility for carbon dioxide refrigeration at its flagship Birmingham branch. It is designed as a food retail environment, with working display cases linked to a sub-critical carbon dioxide cooling system.

The new centre, five minutes’ drive from the M42 and M6, will give engineers hands-on experience of the technology, while providing a working demonstration for end user customers developing their own carbon dioxide-based systems.

The installation comprises a pumped circulation CO2 secondary system, operating at chilled food conditions, with a cascade R404A multi-compressor pack system providing the condensing medium for the CO2 via plate heat exchangers.

The system provides refrigeration to 15m of multi-deck display case and a 22 m3 cold room.  The installation is monitored with a control and alarm system accessible remotely - providing further opportunities to train engineers on system analysis and interrogation techniques.

The project is headed up by Paul Arrowsmith, WR’s engineering and compliance director, who has 25 years’ experience in the design of refrigeration systems.

Mr Arrowsmith says: “The new facility is an important development for WR, and demonstrates our recognition of the potential of CO2 technology and the need to equip our people on the ground to manage it to the highest standards. It also underlines our commitment to ensuring that we protect the environment, and develop sustainable solutions for the future.”

WR partnered with Applied Product Solutions and Stanref in the design and manufacture of the carbon dioxide vessel and pump package. Other partners include Marks and Spencer whose display cases are used and Searle, which supplied cooling equipment and expertise in the design of evaporator coils for the pumped circulation carbon dioxide systems.

The installation has a number of unique features. Unlike a system installed in a trading store environment, it was anticipated that it would be impractical to operate the multi compressor pack system 24/7. Therefore, to prevent the CO2 being vented from the system upon shut-down, a further refrigeration circuit has been incorporated into the design of the vessel.

This comprises a small semi-hermetic condensing unit, operating on R134a, designed to maintain the CO2 at the required temperature while the primary multi-compressor pack system is not operational.

Mr Arrowsmith says: “This is similar to installing a back-up system in the event of a primary system failure, if the system were installed in a working environment.”

WR has worked closely with suppliers and customers in creating the centre.  

Hugh Cole says the facility has already been well received: “All of WR’s national customers, and many of our regional customers, have expressed great interest in what WR is doing at the Birmingham Branch.

“We expect this interest to continue and grow, as our carbon dioxide programme expands in the future. The next step is to evaluate the potential of adding a transcritical plant alongside the sub-critical.”