A R455A direct expansion system (Solstice® L40X) for ORTOLAN SA

Ortolan specialises in the wholesale sector and has three storage facilities in the Marmande area of south-western France. The company takes delivery of fruit and vegetables from local growers and exports them worldwide.

Apples, kiwis and pears are the best-preserved fruit over time and Ortolan has a special long-term storage facility for this purpose. The facility has six 300-tonne cold rooms, which were retrofitted last year for R407F in view of the issue surrounding R404A.

The packing warehouse, on the other hand, has transfer rooms for other types of fruit, such as strawberries, melons and tomatoes, and several controlled-atmosphere storage rooms cooled by an R422D system, which is soon to be converted.

The third, short-term storage facility houses the new R455A system installed by Quercy Réfrigération and is where the company stores its pre-graded apples. These are sorted according to their colour, defects and diameters and are scanned to ensure they have no internal diseases. The apples are then stored in two 1,000 m3 cold rooms, each at a temperature of 1°C, for one to two weeks before they are transported to Ortolan’s packing and shipping site.

Originally, the company had been planning to purchase a new R407F system to meet regulatory requirements, but the launch of R455A refrigerant (Solstice® L40X) generated a great deal of interest thanks to its GWP below 150. Installation engineer Benoît Duparc, in collaboration with Honeywell and Climalife, studied the thermodynamic properties of this new fluid and considered the investment costs involved. Their findings revealed that R455A was entirely suited to this type of application for an operating range of -5°C / +45°C and that the costs were comparable to those of R407F.

The project was subsequently completed over the summer. One unit is designed by Le Froid Pecomark. It consists of two Bitzer reciprocating compressors with speed control up to 70 Hz. According to Duparc, the Carel PLCs and electronic regulators were easy to fit as the manufacturer had already incorporated the R455A refrigerant. The fluid load is 110 kg. When the system went into service, the setpoint temperatures were achieved very quickly, despite the high ambient temperature of 36°C.

Quercy Réfrigération took account of the refrigerant's glide to adjust the defrosting functions and, six months after the work had been completed, there were no issues to report in this respect. For Duparc, «This innovative and a perfectly acceptable solution allows us to meet a great number of expectations and to be able to plan for the future without any concerns».