The Co-operative Group’s new headquarters in Manchester

UK’s largest ever propane chiller installation at The Co-op’s new headquarters

Eight propane chillers have been installed at The Co-operative Group’s new headquarters in Manchester, the largest ever propane chiller project in a commercial building in the UK. The building has achieved the highest BREEAM rating, receiving the ‘Outstanding’ accreditation for a large, commercial building in the UK.

This project proves once again that larger hydrocarbon chillers can be used safely in the urban environment.  Since commissioning, the chiller has been completely uneventful, providing reliable cooling and achieving the predicted energy efficiency. The use of our machines in meeting the required SEER or COP 5.56 and helping to achieve the highest ever UK BREAM and POL 2 requirements for the building, proves the commercial viability of our Industrial Hydro-chiller range.

Reducing both direct and indirect emissions Through the use of hydrocarbon refrigerant R290, a replacement for R22 or R 407c, the chiller’s global warming impact is minimised. GWP of 3 compared to 1300 for R407c or 1200 for R22.

What is more, the chiller’s indirect emissions related to the energy use of the system are minimised through a series of features, which achieve potential energy savings in excess of 50% for chillers that operate year round when compared to minimum first cost chillers without energy saving features.

More specifically, the energy efficiency measures of the hydrocarbon chiller include:

  • R290 favourable thermodynamic characteristics as a refrigerant
  • The use of sub-cooling circuits which improve the coefficient of performance 
  • Floating head pressure control that allows the condensing temperature to float as low as 20°C if ambient conditions allow, instead of the normal 40°C
  • Electronic expansion valves
  • Compressor variable capacity control
  • Floating temperature set point + 6.0 to +18.0 C
  • BMS integrated control system with Bacnet
  • Fully welded pipework reducing potential refrigerant leakage
  • Integral refrigerant containment system with automatic detection

The project life cycle cost analysis, the chiller’s COP amounts to 5.56 compared to a value of 2.82 for an HFC134a chiller. Assuming energy cost of 0.070 £/KWh and given capital cost differences between the two systems, an estimated £135,000 can be saved after running the system for 10 years.

The chiller specifications were provided by S I Seely & Buro Happold consulting engineers, designed by F T Refrigeration Ltd, and manufactured by Italian company Industrial Frigo. The installation was carried out by Rotary NW.

FT Refrigeration Ltd


FT Refrigeration Ltd.

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