By Ilana Koegelenberg

Commercial Refrigeration Services (CRS) has designed and successfully commissioned its first trans-critical booster CO2 refrigeration pack for an IGA supermarket in Australia.

CRS have manufactured, installed and commissioned over 120 CO2 refrigeration racks in South Africa (with its high ambient temperatures) over the past eight years. Now the company is taking on the global market and sharing its experience of bespoke CO2 projects with countries such as Australia.

There are currently a limited number of local manufacturers of CO2 packs in Australia despite a growing interest in CO2 solutions as natural refrigerants start making inroads in the Australian market. As a result, CO2 equipment is usually imported from countries like Italy or Denmark, which results in high-cost solutions that have limited track records in high ambient operating conditions

Wynand Groenewald of CRS has been attending the ATMOsphere natural refrigerants events in Australia since inception and it’s there that he first met Christopher Paulson of Avance Energy Solutions in 2016.

A synergy was built from both companies promoting energy efficiency, sustainability and future proof solutions. CRS and Avance partnered up believing with CRS’s extensive and unique CO2 experience and Avance’s extensive market network in Australia, they will be able to enhance the service levels that the businesses can offer their clients in the commercial and industrial refrigeration industry.

Before any final decisions were made, the consultant and contractor flew to South Africa to see how these systems work in practise.

MB Refrigeration, an Australian contractor, has been working with the Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA) for many years as an installer. The company recently decided to assist one of their IGA clients in embracing the market shift toward natural refrigerants, allowing them to escape the steepening HFC cost curve. The client listed, so at the end of last year, Avance sold its first CO2 pack to MB Refrigeration for IGA’s new 1 500m2 supermarket at Clarinda Village in Cranbourne, Victoria.

IGA has over 1 400 stores in Australia and is almost like our version of Marko or Game, offering a wide variety of products – including fresh produce.

“We have enjoyed the challenge to rethink how we do supermarket refrigeration and what solution we deliver for our clients,” explains Shaun Davis of MB Refrigeration. “While reviewing environmental policy changes specifically to refrigerants – we felt it was our responsibility to embrace the change and be ahead of the curve. We have found the current cost uplift a challenge to promote trans-critical CO2 but can push past that trusting that in the future the systems will be the norm and become more cost effective.”

The client was very happy with their decision to try out this option. “When MB Refrigeration told me about the refrigerant changes and environmental impact of the new system along with long term cost of ownership with CO2 gas, I could see that it was important to embrace the new system for my latest store,” said Salam Rasool of IGA. “I am delighted with the result.”

However, before deciding on a final CO2 plant supplier, MB Refrigeration flew to South Africa with Avance Energy Solutions to see how the CRS CO2 systems worked in practise. The CRS team took them to one of the Makro installations they recently completed. MB Refrigeration was suitably impressed with the operation of the CRS plant, so they decided to give it a go in Australia too.

The pack was built in the CRS workshop in Linbro Business Park (Johannesburg) and then shipped complete to Australia where it was piped into the system and connected to the cabinets and gas cooler. Quintan Naude of CRS then flew over in March and, with the help of the MB Refrigeration installation team, commissioned the plant.

It took about 10 weeks to build the plant at CRS before it was packed up and shipped to Australia where it arrived on site well in time for the ongoing project. It was shipped in December 2017.


Project and technology

This brand new IGA supermarket boasts a trans-critical booster plant that comprises a mix of Emerson Copeland compressors (equipped with CoreSense technology): scroll compressors on the low temperature (LT) side and semi-hermetic ones on the medium temperature (MT).

The pack ensured the following capacities:

  • LT = 18kW
  • MT = 70kW.

On the medium temperature, the system feeds the following: a 20-door glass door cold room for cold drinks; two produce cases; four deli cases; two dairy cases and one cooler for the meat prep area. There is also a 30-door glass door cold room in the liquor area. On the low temp side, the system supplies the four glass door freezer and one 15-door freezer room.

The system was fitted with parallel compression to meet efficiency and sustainability goals. Heat reclaim of the CO2 refrigeration system was incorporated into the pack therefore it makes no use of electrical elements or natural gas for space heating.

In addition to the CO2 plant, MB Refrigeration also sourced all the other parts of the system, such as the gas cooler and blower coils from Gutner and cabinets from Hussmann. They built all the cold and freezer rooms, lined up the cabinets, and installed all the necessary pipework and cabinet controllers.

In addition to designing, procuring and installating the refrigeration system on a turn-key basis, MB Refrigeration also designed and built the HVAC system, including a compact air handling unit (AHU) with an in-built EC plug-fan and a ducted air distribution system that comprises oval spiral ducting (as opposed to fully round), taking up less of the ceiling void. This ducting circulates the waste heat reclaimed from the pack and displaces it to the sales floor area for free heating.

It took about 10 weeks to build the plant at CRS before it was packed up and shipped to Australia.


The challenge to export CRS’s first rack to Australia was found to be easier than anticipated. South Africa and Australia regulations are very close to each other and compliance was easy. The only challenge was getting third party sign off on the system design and supplying a receiver that complies with Australian regulations. This was met by making use of Temprite to supply a receiver and having the vessel design verified by an accredited engineering consultancy in Australia.

“Overall, we at CRS enjoyed the project a lot and was happy to see the first plant operating at optimum conditions,” explains Groenewald. “We are looking forward to future projects and hope that what we have learned from using CO2 in high ambient conditions can be beneficial to the Australian market by implementing our solutions.”

The start of big things

The contractors were very impressed with the system and see great potential for similar projects in future. “Overall, we are extremely happy with our first trans-critical CO2 refrigeration system. CRS’s racks has given us the simplicity that we were looking for when dealing with CO2 and we feel that this is important for the uptake of CO2 into the market,” says Davis.

From the success of the first pilot project using CRSs technology and the influence of Avance to penetrate the market, the opportunity to grow the pipeline in Australia and New Zealand is optimistic, explains Groenewald.

Why CO2?

With green credentials, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the world’s number one choice of refrigerant. Global legislation, as well as the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols, which reviewed substances linked to ozone depletion and Global Warming (climate change), encourage its use.

With the phase out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, the supermarket industry is having to look to alternative, long term, energy efficient solutions. Carbon dioxide (R744) is rapidly becoming the industry choice for an alternative refrigerant due to its favourable environmental properties (ODP = 0, GWP = 1).

CO2 is an excellent choice when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 provides high performance and exceptional properties for heat reclaim, due to its high heat transfer capabilities. CO2 has excellent volumetric efficiency (more than five times the cooling effect per volume as R22), resulting in reduced compressor and pipe sizes for the same cooling effect, low consumption ratio (the ratio between inlet and outlet pressures from the compressor), and low viscosity (making it easier to pump). CO2 is widely available as a by-product in a number of industries and the cost of CO2 gas is very low. Another advantage to using a trans-critical CO2 system is that it operates on one gas as opposed to a cascade system.

List of professionals

 Owner  IGA Clarinda Village  Salam Rasool
 Project manager  Refrigeration & HVAC  MB Refrigeration
 Turn-key contractor  Refrigeration & HVAC  MB Refrigeration
 Product suppliers via MB Refrigeration  CO2 plant  CRS | AVANCE
 Cabinets  Hussmann
 Gas cooler, evaporator coils  Guntner
 Oil management  Temprite
 Electronic controls  Danfoss
 Switch gear  ABB
 Ball valves  Refrigera
 Compressors  Copeland (Emerson)


Click here to read the July 2018 issue of RACA Journal