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New poultry processing plant largest CaaS model in Africa

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By Hougaard Langeveldt, design engineering manager at Energy Partners

Meeting the client’s core values in sustainability, the latest addition to the group’s facilities located in Kariega in the Eastern Cape Province was successfully delivered.

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Image credit: Energy Partners

Image credit: Energy PartnersAs industry leaders driven by innovation, Sovereign Foods (SF) equips themselves with cutting-edge farming and processing technology that is designed and selected with sustainability in mind. Their world-class facilities achieve sustainability objectives through maximised efficiency.

Reducing energy consumption and raising efficiency are integral parts of their operations. SF facilities have consistently achieved a NOSA 5-star rating after their annual independent audits, and in-line with their forward-thinking approach, they continue to further explore the use of solar solutions to power parts of their business.
Responsible waste disposal is also an essential component for their sustainable operation, and in that regard, SF is a shining example for the industry by recycling all dry waste, and they have implemented water recycling measures wherever feasible.
SF places major emphasis on selecting and installing the best assets money can buy. They continue to invest in the highest quality, most efficient and trusted equipment, and boast this through some of the best facilities around the world being found within their group.

They further demand leading processing methodology to ensure their factories combine the best of automated and manual production to deliver world-class products to customers, both in the private and commercial sectors. Processing and packing meet FSSC 22000 accreditation, with all product packaging adhering to the latest labelling and safety regulations to provide full consumer transparency.
Furthermore, state-of-the-art storage and loading facilities guarantees the cold chain remains intact from processing to in-store delivery.
This project, being the most recent addition to their facilities – a new final processing plant at their Kariega factory, was initiated late in 2019 and completed in May this year, 2021. The project delivery ran smoothly, apart from various delays due to the unforeseen Covid lockdown period, and subsequent impacts of that situation.

Liquid receiver in front with condensers at the back. Image credit: Energy Partners
Liquid receiver in front with condensers at the back. Image credit: Energy Partners
LT Bitzer compressor with LT ammonia vessel on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners
LT Bitzer compressor with LT ammonia vessel on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Bitzer racks on sides, ammonia vessels - LT on left, intercooler in middle, MT vessel on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Bitzer racks on sides, ammonia vessels - LT on left, intercooler in middle, MT vessel on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners
The 200kℓ hot water tank and pump systems. Image credit: Energy Partners
The 200kℓ hot water tank and pump systems. Image credit: Energy Partners
The condenser yard. Image credit: Energy Partners
The condenser yard. Image credit: Energy Partners
The condenser yard with ammonia liquid receiver on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners
The condenser yard with ammonia liquid receiver on the right. Image credit: Energy Partners

Client brief and design aspects

Prior to this installation, the client already owned several ammonia plants around the country and have been a major part of the drive to apply the latest technologies.

The client brief of the project was essentially to supply Cooling as a Service (Caas) at the most economical price. The client requirement also included a steam contract for outsourced steam with heat recovery from the refrigeration plant for hot water generation.

The ownership of the refrigeration plant would remain with Energy Partners.

The plant provides cooling to the new meat processing facility for cold storage, process cooling, climate control in the process areas, and spiral freezers. The design cooling capacity is 2200kWR high stage, and 1320kWR low stage.

The installed refrigeration plant system

The plant is a two-stage ammonia plant with direct pump circulation to the spiral freezer, freezer rooms and chiller rooms.

A secondary glycol system has been installed for the climate-controlled areas and product cooling. Waste heat recovery from the compressor oil cooling is used to heat the 200kℓ hot water tank for wash water.

Fresh air supply and ventilation systems have been installed for the high-risk areas and medium risk production areas.

Notably for this project was the selection and installations of the latest Bitzer ammonia compressor packs (ACPs) that have been designed specifically for ammonia applications in industrial and commercial markets to meet the growing demand for high efficient, natural refrigerant solutions.

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Elements of difficulty on the project

The processing plant had to be constructed inside a historical building with concrete trusses and roofs. Central Specialist Group had to develop special clamp on brackets to hang the primary pipe support steel from the trusses.

Pipe routing had to be planned according to the loading capabilities of the existing structure and void heights. The processing facility also needed to be constructed with stainless steel insulated panels and trimmings for food hygiene reasons and was required to be durable due to exposure on a daily basis to high-pressure washing.

LT Bitzer racks on sides, Ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Aperture: 2.2
Camera: SM-G973F
Iso: 250
Alternate view of LT Bitzer racks on sides, Ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Alternate view of LT Bitzer racks on sides, Ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel in middle, MT vessel on right, MT Bitzer rack on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel in middle, MT vessel on right, MT Bitzer rack on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
The MT Bitzer ammonia compressor racks. Image credit: Energy Partners
The MT Bitzer ammonia compressor racks. Image credit: Energy Partners
An aerial view of the new installation at the Sovereign Foods Uitenhage plant. The hot water tank on left and condenser yard in the front. Image credit: Energy Partners
An aerial view of the new installation at the Sovereign Foods Uitenhage plant. The hot water tank on left and condenser yard in the front. Image credit: Energy Partners
Alternate view of ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel in middle, MT vessel on right, MT Bitzer rack on right. Image credit: Energy Partners
Alternate view of ammonia vessels, LT on left, intercooler vessel in middle, MT vessel on right, MT Bitzer rack on right. Image credit: Energy Partners

System impact on energy efficient and sustainable

The system has been designed with optimized condensing and evaporation temperatures to optimise system coefficient of performance (COP). The natural refrigerant ammonia had been set as the preference for its highest efficiency, longest plant life expectancy and sustainability aspects having a zero global warming and ozone depletion potential. Bitzer screw packs have optimal working-hours between major service intervals, providing low life cycle cost.
With the recovery of waste heat from the refrigeration plant, the client is saving on coal consumption in the steam plant and ensuring that the total installation reaches peak environmental sustainability.

Unique elements

This is the largest CaaS project in Africa and the first to combine refrigeration and steam as a utility-outsource solution for the client.
This project is also home to the first large scale industrial ammonia plant utilizing the Bitzer ACP compressor packs. The total planned cooling consumption will be 1.74 million kWRh per year.

List of professionals:

Project name: Sovereign Foods – New Final Processing Plant
Name of company
Owner – Refrigeration & Steam Plant Energy Partners
Developer Sovereign Foods
Architect / Designer Central Specialist Group
Project manager Central Specialist Group
Consulting engineer Mechanical (HVAC & R) Energy Partners Engineering
Insulated panels Energy Partners Engineering
Civil & structural Central Specialist Group
Contractors Main contract managers Gramic
HVAC & R Energy Partners Refrigeration & Steam
Insulated panels Insulated door systems
Product suppliers Product Supplier
Compressors Bitzer
Condensers BAC
Evaporators HC
Plate heat exchangers Alfa Laval
Ammonia Valves Danfoss
Electrical boards IMC
Insulation Intertherm

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