Japan-based cold storage operator Yoshio Ice Manufacturing & Refrigeration installed three CO2 systems to serve one of its new cold storage facilities. Accelerate Japan reports.
Shigekatsu Koganemaru, president, Yoshio Ice Manufacturing & Refrigeration
Continuing the upward growth trend of CO2 transcritical systems in Japan's cold storage industry, Fukuoka-based Yoshio Ice Manufacturing & Refrigeration (Yoshio Ice) installed three Japanese manufactured CO2 transcritical systems to serve one of its cold storage facilities in April 2018.
Three CO2 Booster Super Green systems, provided by Tokyo-based manufacturer Nihon Netsugen Systems (NNS), operate at the facility, which Accelerate Japan magazine – published by shecco, which also publishes this webite – toured last June.
NNS publicly debuted the CO2 Booster Super Green system last year at the FOOMA Japan 2018 exhibition.
The three CO2 transcritical systems service one 4,700 m3 frozen storage room (at -25°C), as well as a 3,700 m3 cold room (at +5°C) and a 4,700 m3 loading area (at +5°C).
Choosing CO2 for safety
Shigekatsu Koganemaru, Yoshio Ice's current president, first heard about NNS's CO2 transcritical system at a general meeting of the Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (JARW) in 2016.
"After speaking with NNS and learning about the system's technical specifications in detail, I determined that the system had reached a sufficiently usable level. We then decided to install it at our new warehouse which was being planned at the time," Koganemaru told Accelerate Japan.
Koganemaru, who presented at last year's ATMOsphere Japan event, explained that as a board member of the Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (JARW) and vice-chairman of the association's Environment and Safety Committee, he understands the important role to be played by natural refrigerants in this sector, both now and in the future.
2016 data from JARW showed that 68% of Japan's cold storage facilities currently use R22, while 14% use ammonia (NH3)-CO2 cascade systems and 11.3% use NH3 systems.
Explaining his motivation to use a CO2 transcritical system over an NH3/CO2 cascade or traditional NH3 system, Koganemaru said that the decision was mainly motivated out of concern for his employees' safety.
Koganemaru, who has previously worked in factories where ammonia was considered dangerous to handle, said that safety standards used to be more ambiguous than they are now. He said it was once normal to be exposed to intense odours when liquid ammonia leaked from valves, sometimes leading to burns or other minor injuries.
Energy savings vs. industry average
Koganemaru recently confirmed that based on data taken from April through December 2018, he projects annual average electricty consumption to be about 80 kWh per "facility ton" for the CO2 transcritical system.
In Japan, one "facility ton" is equal to about 2.5 m3.
Koganemaru said that this represents a significant amount of energy savings compared to Japan's industry annual average of 150 kWh per "facility ton".
The savings are notable since the cold storage facility is located in the city of Fukuoka on Kyushu island, which is the southernmost of Japan's main islands.
The region experiences some of Japan's hottest and most humid climates with temperatures sometimes reaching 35°C during the summer months.
Natural refrigerant subsidies continuing into 2019
The installation of the CO2 transcritical systems at Yoshio Ice were supported by subsidies provided by the Japanese government in FY2017.
"You could say in a way that the majority of the refrigerated warehouse industry consists of small companies," said Koganemaru.
"So for these companies, the replacement of factory equipment and machinery is a very big investment. That is why subsidies that bear the burden of half of the installation costs are very much appreciated."
These subsidies are expected to continue into next year with the Japanese Ministry of the Environment confirming in December that it has set the budget for FY2019 at ¥7.4 billion (€58 million).
Koganemaru said that as a board member of JARW, he is always working to petition the government to continue the natural refrigerant subsidy programme in Japan.
Koganemaru is scheduled to speak about Japan's cold storage industry and its use of natural refrigerants at the upcoming ATMOsphere Japan 2019 event, which will be held on 12 February in Tokyo.
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This is an abridged version of the cover story from Accelerate Japan, Issue #20.
Accelerate Japan visits Fukuoka where two Japanese companies – Yoshio Ice Manufacturing & Refrigeration and Kawai Ice & Cold Storage – have installed CO2-based refrigeration systems.