Where are the greatest gains in energy efficiency likely to come from in the future? FEJ picks out five key areas with the help of a selection of experts in the field.
1. Alternative refrigerants
Ian Wood, managing director of Adande, “fears” that many manufacturers will be driven by regulations and legislation, rather than ambition, to achieve further energy efficiency gains. But he does foresee refrigerants having a huge impact on technological progress. “One of the most likely catalysts in the development of more energy efficient refrigeration equipment will be the introduction of new and alternative refrigerants, whether they are adopted voluntarily or as the result of regulations,” he comments. “The availability of increasingly efficient components and improved insulation materials will also contribute to greater energy savings.”
2. Compressors, nanoparticles and vacuum insulation panels
CESA and the Carbon Trust have been looking into a crystal ball to see what technologies refrigeration manufacturers will develop in future to save energy. “Over the next 10 years, expect to see alternative fan designs, as well as electronic thermostatic expansion valves, high efficiency evaporators and condensers, and new compressor technology including inverter driven compressors,” says CESA chair Simon Frost. “Look out for wide glide refrigerants and anti-sweat heater controls, too.” In the longer term, says Frost, things could get seriously different, with the possibility of vacuum insulation panels, shelf flaps, and nanoparticles in refrigerant — as well as magnetic refrigeration and ultrasonic defrosting of evaporators.
3. Programmable ice production
Self-diagnostics are an important way to keep ice makers operating at optimum efficiency, so leading supplier Hubbard Systems expects to see more advanced and intelligent systems being developed. Similarly, simpler maintenance procedures will encourage staff not to cut corners, suggests commercial director Simon Aspin. “Programmable ice production systems minimise water and energy consumption by allowing the operator to set the levels of production to match expected needs. These will become more available and more sophisticated in coming years.”
4. Cutlery-sensing warewashers
If kitchens are going to safeguard a sustainable future then they must rely on ever smarter machines, says Tim Bender, sales director at Hobart Warewashing. Hobart’s undercounter FX, GX and GC machines, for instance, feature a soil sensor which adjusts the rinse consumption depending on soil levels in the wash tank. But such developments won’t stop there. “The sheer speed of R&D means that there will soon be machines on the market with ware sensing systems that can detect the exact contents of a machine — be it cutlery, glassware or plates — and adjust the wash accordingly.”
5. Combi oven operation
Not all efficiency gains will come from new product development — operators themselves have a huge opportunity to influence improvements through their own practices, argues Steve Hemsil, national distribution manager at Manitowoc. “Manufacturers are beginning to reach the physical limit regarding insulating equipment and certain energy saving measurements, but in terms of combi steamers there is still huge potential to save energy,” he comments. “A good example of this is that some operators who purchase combi steamers are not using the equipment to its full potential. Therefore our biggest area of improvement is customer training and showing them how best they can maximise the full capability of their combi steamer,” he adds.