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Fuel costs spur cold chain to implement new ways to boost energy efficiency

In response to higher fuel costs, innovations in recycling heat and redesigned heat, ventilation, and air-conditioning, (HVAC) systems have been introduced. However, the coil or “lungs” of refrigeration systems can benefit the most by simply keeping the air cleaner.

Besides reducing operating efficiency, dirt and dust build-up on coils and evaporators harbor molds and bacteria detrimental to produce storage. New technologies like AiroCide PPT air purifiers offer an economic, effective method to kill airborne microbes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and keep fans and coils cleaner.

Refrigeration systems are only as efficient as the operating ability of the coils. To exchange heat effectively, coils must be kept clean and free of dirt and corrosion. Air contamination like smog and other pollutants cause coils to corrode, and along with dirt and mildew, block the heat transfer process. According to industry expert Thomas Westerkamp, tests show heat-transfer capabilities increase by 55 percent after two years with clean coils. Preventing early compressor failure is another reason for good coil housekeeping.

Philadelphia wholesale florist, Paul Zieger uses the AiroCide PPT technology in his coolers to eliminate airborne contaminants like botrytis, a mold; and ethylene gas, a VOC. Both are devastating to flowers. He attributes a secondary benefit of the air-cleaning technology, which saved him from buying a new refrigeration unit. Mark Penner, a warehouse manager for SunOpta, Inc said, “The fans in the tomato room (where AiroCide PPT is operating) were not half as dirty or moldy as the fans in other rooms in the warehouse, which were pretty ugly.”

Because the technology does not use or produce chemicals or any form of ozone, it is used extensively in the organic produce cold chain. AiroCide PPT technology was developed by NASA to kill airborne mold and remove ethylene gas that cross-contaminated plant growth experiments in the space program. NASA design requirements specified the technology be energy-efficient as well as environmentally and maintenance-friendly, keeping refrigeration coils cleaner and more efficient with “plug and play” convenience.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently rolled out Greenchill, an energy efficiency program specifically for supermarkets. The program is designed to promote best practices to reduce ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases by collecting emissions reports. Companies using advanced refrigeration technologies share operational and maintenance data to a third party that reports to the EPA.

Programs such as Greenchill for the grocery retailers, along with the recognition to keep refrigeration coils clean, help all members of the cold supply chain save time and energy.

AiroCide PPT systems contain the same technology used in all AiroCide products that serve multiple industries and applications and is marketed by KES' affiliate company, KesAir Technologies. AiroCide PPT systems are used in the perishable food and beverage industries that include retail (grocery and floral), distribution (produce and floral), and analytical laboratories (tissue culture and food processing).

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