GEA's cool solution for milk giant


12 March 2020
The GEA heat pump system installed at Aurivo in Killygordon The GEA heat pump system installed at Aurivo in Killygordon

Ireland’s second largest liquid milk processing firm has cut both carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption by 80%, thanks to new refrigeration and heat recovery solutions through heat pumps from GEA.

The Aurivo site in Killygordon, County Donegal annually produces and packages 120 million litres of milk for a range of brands. Aurivo was looking to increase efficiency and capacity, as well as reduce carbon footprint. The firm already used a green supplier for its electricity, and so a key goal was to reduce overall energy use, and in particular cut reliance on fossil fuel-fed water boilers.

As a key part of its upgrade programme, the firm contracted and worked with GEA’s local teams in Ireland to design, configure and install a new refrigeration plant that would replace the existing, outdated and inefficient refrigeration system. Aurivo decided to exploit GEA heat pump technology to reclaim and channel excess heat from the new cooling plant to heat water for the milk pasteurisation process. This capability would positively impact on energy use, and allow Aurivo to reduce fossil fuel-based heating (boiler), and so also cut carbon emissions.

The GEA and Aurivo utilities teams also worked hand-in-hand with GEA Ireland’s dairy liquid processing specialists, who installed the new, larger 45,000 l/h capacity pasteuriser, together with separation, homogenisation and milk standardisation equipment that work seamlessly with the upgraded refrigeration and heat pump solutions.

The overall upgrade has increased Aurivo’s hourly milk processing capacity and reduced energy consumption for processing, heating and chilling by about 12%. CO2 emissions have dropped by more than 181,000 kg per year. Importantly, the heat pump technology has dramatically cut Aurivo’s use of fossil fuels for heating the water used for pasteurisation.

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“The new refrigeration and heat pump solutions provide us with 1200 kW of cooling, and roughly the same in heating capacity,” said Stephen Carlin, Aurivo’s Engineering Manager. “The GEA heat pump that collects and recycles what was waste energy from the chiller provides us with the remaining energy needed to take the water up to the pasteuriation temperature of a max of 78°C. This has rendered our traditional fuel oil-burning boilers almost redundant for the pasteurisation process. In fact, we now only have to turn the boilers on for one hour a week to kick-start each process cycle.”

There is also untapped capacity in the heat pump system, Carlin noted. “At present we are only using 50% of the heat pump capacity. If necessary, we could double the amount of hot water produced, and so potentially double our capacity for pasteurisation.”

GEA configured and installed all refrigeration, heat pump and pasteuriser systems. “We didn’t just provide a heat pump, we optimised the pasteuriser to suit the heat pump application for the Aurivo site,” said Kenneth Hoffmann, Product Manager Heat Pumps at GEA. “All the way through the project we were focused on offering a complete solution, not just individual parts, so that our technologies could help to reduce waste, energy consumption and use of fossil fuels, while increasing capacity and making the Aurivo facility one of the most sustainable dairy plants in Ireland.”

The project for Aurivo is said to highlight the benefit of the GEA’s SEnS (Sustainable Energy Solutions) concept and has been awarded Excellence in Energy Efficiency Design (EXEED) Certification from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.