Nowadays, it is very difficult to imagine the world without refrigeration. The technologies and services in this specialty are essential for many human activities. Particularly, industrial refrigeration and air conditioning has acquired enormous importance since the beginning of the 20th century. The design of refrigeration and cooling systems continues to adapt to meet the requirements of different industries based on their different characteristics. For this reason, we can say that companies that develop, distribute and install refrigeration technology are making a decisive contribution to driving the world economy.

An example that corroborates this statement is Spain. Here industrial refrigeration is critical for the growth of sectors such as food and beverages, as well as pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The local productivity figures that we will share in this post are just a sample of the influence that the cold industry exerts in the production of consumer goods and in improving the quality of life of people globally.

 

What is industrial refrigeration and air conditioning about?

When we talk about industrial refrigeration and air conditioning, we are not just referring to air conditioners and refrigerators. It is very important to clarify that this is an area that goes much further, given its scale and diversity of details. It is worth mentioning that, as well as the refrigeration sector, air conditioners have their installation, maintenance and repair. In addition to that they can be used both in the domestic area and in the commercial area.

For its part, industrial refrigeration basically refers to the accessories and equipment that are responsible for completely eliminating the heat of the different materials and processes on a large scale, until reaching the desired degree of temperature. There are several methods in which you can apply this complex area, depending on some parameters. Among them, the scale of production and the difference between temperatures; as well as the precision and the temperature that is expected to be obtained.

 

Industry Relevance

This sector has had great relevance since the beginning of the 20th century, when large industries, such as the food, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries, made important advances. In part, this happened thanks to the use of adequate equipment, which allowed them to reduce the temperature for different processes and products. Or, in the same way, keep the latter in good condition, in order to avoid health and safety problems. In those industries essentially based on bioprocesses, both the processes and the products must be developed and stored, respectively, in optimal conditions. In this way, it is feasible to achieve maximum performance in their reactions, or to avoid their decomposition.

Sometimes, refrigeration is key, to maintain the ideal conditions in the product or process. This is particularly important to avoid chain reactions or accidents, as occurs in the case of compounds with a low boiling point. It should also be noted that refrigeration can be applied to achieve an ideal environment for the work of employees and machines. Indeed, there are industries that generate large amounts of heat and electronic equipment that needs to dissipate the heat produced to function smoothly.

 

Industrial refrigeration and air conditioning applications

As mentioned above, these refrigeration and cooling systems were created in order to meet specific requirements of different industries. Some of those industrial uses are:

 

Food and beverage industry

For the area of ​​the food and beverage industry, refrigeration is a key element, since the refrigeration system allows the preservation of both food products and beverages for a long period of time and, in addition, can prevent possible microbiological contamination. Ensuring the proper temperature is a vital factor in the preparation process, because it maintains the safety of processed foods.

A large number of refrigeration systems are used in this sector. For food processing, for example, cold water is used as a typical cooling system. In the food cold chain, the ideal temperatures for refrigeration are between 4 and 0°C, while freezing must reach a regulatory temperature of -18°C. If the products exceed these values, in addition to breaking the chain, they would trigger protein alterations, which would modify the smell, texture and color of the food.

In Spain, the food and beverage industry represents 23.3% of the industrial sector. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) as of 2021, it is the first industrial manufacturing branch in the country. The number of companies in this segment reaches 30,260 (15.7% of the entire manufacturing industry). Its turnover amounts to 130,795.8 million euros; employs 22.1% of employed persons and contributes 19.2% of added value. It also contributes 2.5% to Spain’s GDP. And there is industrial refrigeration and air conditioning!

Industrial refrigeration and air conditioning, an ally of the pharmaceutical sector

For this area, temperature is a factor of great importance. It is required that the components that are used both in the production of drugs and medicines, be deposited in stable conditions. In other words, at low temperatures. This is why the aforementioned industrial sector depends on sophisticated refrigeration equipment and systems. In particular, because they help maintain the temperature to meet the requirements of rooms and storage units. Pharmaceuticals often use small refrigeration plants, due to the limitations of the production capacity of the equipment in that industry. In this process, a centralized refrigeration plant is used with refrigerants and transformer stations that are dispersed throughout the different clean rooms of the workshop.

Other systems applied in this sector are compressed air refrigeration, oxychlorination plants and liquefaction plants. Specifically, ammonia, chlorine and oxygen. According to the consulting firm Statista, the pharmaceutical industry is another very strong sector in the Spanish economy. To the point that in 2020 it exceeded 22,000 million euros in revenue. The segment brings together more than 330 laboratories and employs approximately 44,000 people. Even, Spain is the eighth largest pharmaceutical market in the world in terms of turnover. In the same year 2020, Spanish pharmaceutical companies exported products worth close to 12,000 million euros. Much of its production is destined for European Union countries such as France and Germany. But it also reaches non-EU countries such as Switzerland, the United States or China.

 

Electricity production

Part of the electricity production is based on the incineration of various fuels. Fixed inlet air conditions allow for a higher level of efficiency and accuracy. When reaching a high temperature, the density of the inlet air is reduced, causing a decrease in electrical production. To avoid these drawbacks, various cooling systems are used, in order to reduce the temperature produced by the air current.

 

Data center

One of the main issues that managers in this industry are concerned about is the heat output that makes up a data center. High temperatures in a server room have a negative impact on equipment performance, shortening its useful life. Not to mention that it can become a great danger, if it exceeds certain levels. In this refrigeration design it is vital to determine the dimensions of the system. This requires knowing how much heat is being produced by IT equipment. Likewise, it is necessary to take into account the high temperatures produced by other sources of heat and circumstances that are usually present. For example, power distribution, UPS, lighting, air conditioning units and even people, among others.

 

Chemical and petrochemical

Although chemical and petrochemical reactions generally do not need to be controlled, as in the case of pharmaceutical reactions, it is essential to control the temperature in the processes. Some operations, such as distillation, condensation and crystallization, require the removal of heat from their processes. That is, they need cooling systems. According to the Business Federation of the Spanish Chemical Industry, there are more than 3,000 companies in this sector in the country. Its recent business figures reached 64,519 million euros, of which nearly 60% were billed in foreign markets within and outside the European Union. Currently, this industrial segment directly employs 209,275 people.

 

Why is industrial refrigeration and air conditioning so important in Spain?

According to data from the Association of Refrigeration Companies (AEFYT), refrigeration plays a crucial role in companies that contribute more than 40% of the national GDP. This sector in Spain invoices approximately 5,000 billion euros per year and generates more than 22,000 jobs, with employability rates of 100%. Everything is due to the work of more than five thousand certified installation companies and a little more than 200 manufacturing, marketing and consulting companies. Since 1995, Intersam has been part of the industrial refrigeration and air conditioning segment. In 27 years of operations, we have developed a complete infrastructure that allows us to provide our clients with essential services for their operations and processes:

  • We design and manufacture refrigeration and heating equipment.
  • We develop custom systems.
  • We supply and install our products wherever the customer is.
  • We provide our own software to facilitate the correct performance of our equipment.

At Intersam we manufacture all types of refrigeration and air conditioning systems: air-water, water-air and air-refrigerants. The design and operation of our systems allow us to achieve maximum energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption. Refrigeration is our business! Contact us now!