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Case Studies: Industrial Refrigeration - Rotelle, Inc.

Rotelle, Inc. - West Point, Pennsylvania

Benefits Realized:

  • Energy Savings
  • Environmentally Friendly and Compliant
  • Increased Capacity

What was Installed:
Manufacturer: Tecogen
Type: TecoFROST®

Rotelle Inc., a subsidiary of Richfood Holdings, Inc., has an on-going program to lower energy consumption, reduce costs and address environmental concerns at its food distribution complex. The complex boasts more than 2,100 tons of refrigeration capacity supporting its four different companies operating under the Rotelle umbrella.

"As industrial refrigeration system operators...we're faced with two important challenges in addition to our normal production-related duties," says Ernes Martucci, P.E. Rotelle's director of facilities and maintenance. "First, we have to find ways to reduce the cost of the product -- in our case, the energy bills. We must be responsive to the community and the environment. At Rotelle, these are high priorities," he adds.

In the complex, energy costs, associated with more than 2,750 hp in installed compressor motor capacity, were soaring. On-peak power consumption during the summer months needed to be lowered, despite the fact that an 80-ton ice plant had to increase its capacity to 120 tons. Last but not least, the ice plant equipment utilized an ozone-depleting refrigerant. Rotelle's Cold Springs Packing Company produced bagged ice, refrigerated by reciprocating machines using CFC-12, which was recently banned from production in the United States.

Martucci and his staff found a unique way to address all of these challenges in a single major refrigeration system renovation. "FES came to the rescue," says Martucci. "We replaced the old CFC-12 ice-making system with an ammonia system. We not only solved the CFC problem, we gained 50% capacity while removing 300 hp from the grid during on-peak." Two 150 hp FES natural gas engine-driven screw compressors were installed there, along with one 300 hp conventional electric-drive FES compressor, which operates during off-peak hours and serves as back-up during engine maintenance. The compressors, paired with automotive-derivative engines, use the refrigerant ammonia, which is environmentally friendly.

The bottom line for Rotelle: savings of approximately 18% on all energy bills. With the ability to shift up to 300 hp of load when the gas engine equipment operates, the company qualified for the thermal storage schedule from PECO Energy Company, the electric and gas provider. The thermal storage schedule extended Rotelle's electric off-peak hours from 12 to 14 to build ice for on-peak cooling load.

In short, gas engine-driven equipment has allowed Rotelle to add capacity without affecting its schedule. Rotelle is studying the use of more gas engine-driven compressors in other parts of the plant. "The results speak for themselves," states Martucci.

Note: Tecogen now engineers, markets and services the TecoFROST® gas engine-driven system, formerly the FES engine-driven package. TecoFROST® units are manufactured by FES in York, PA.