Supermarket cooling calculator promises unprecedented system insight

Consultant Omega Solutions has developed a calculator that is promisimg unparalleled insight into the various factors that impact cooling and heating performance – allowing supermarkets to make decarbonising decisions before committing major capital expenditure.

With the refrigeration systems in supermarkets responsible for 40-70% of energy costs and the refrigerants they use amid the transition to lower carbon technologies, Omega believes that it is vital for retail operators to know about their system performance at a granular level – and to be able to determine the impact of any changes easily.

The consultant’s technical director, Nabil Cook, has worked with components giant Copeland to create the RADICal (Refrigeration Analysis and Dynamic Insights Calculator) software, which allows operators to see the results of changes to any of the various factors at the touch of a button.

According to Nabil, the sheer number of factors influencing refrigeration systems creates a major challenge for anyone involved in reducing carbon and energy. Any significant changes require increased capital and operational expenditures. He said:

Costly errors can occur despite the best intentions, and with multiple factors, from refrigerant choice to design temperatures for cooling and heating to store location, we think it is important to see the potential impact before any changes are made.

Nabil added,

This enables us to show retailers the various costs and impacts of decarbonising before having to commit to capital expenditure on new systems and refrigerants – and we know that for many, they will need to invest as they move away from HFCs to lower-carbon options for their refrigerants.

He noted that system calculators themselves are not new. Still, he is confident that the RADICal offers a higher number of inputs to a greater level of detail than other options – and significantly, looks at the heating and cooling systems alongside the refrigeration output:

We believe it is the most realistic calculator developed in this field.

But what makes the tool distinctive, Omega notes, is that it provides three contrasting but future-proof technologies to provide the user with genuine options for consideration:

  • CO2 booster with/without heat recovery + R290 reversible heat pump(s)
  • A2L with/without heat recovery + R290 reversible heat pump(s)
  • Next Gen R290 integrals + R290 reversible heat pump(s)

The list of user inputs is extensive: loads (refrigeration and comfort; saturated suction temperatures; geographical location; building heat loss; heating design temperatures (external and internal); heat recovery, if present; electricity cost; refrigerant leakage rate; and system life expectancy.

Based on these inputs, the RADICal will provide projections of the refrigeration and heating/cooling system output, the capital expenditure required, the life cycle costs, and life cycle emissions.

Omega says the results provide ‘clear and concise datasets for each application to help food retailers make the best investment decisions for their estate.’

Omega stresses that it does not just linearly scale efficiencies or power inputs, nor does it simply maintain fixed efficiencies for each ambient bracket. ‘Instead, to get as close to real life as possible, it ascertains the number of reversible heat pumps and the compressor speed required for a given thermal load at a given external ambient temperature.’ It achieves this using an algorithm custom-built by Omega from published manufacturer data.

But because efficiency is sensitive to compressor speed, this speed is then fed into a second algorithm alongside external ambient temperature to obtain a part-load coefficient of performance. The company states this technique ‘allows the energy consumption of the plant-side comfort heating and cooling units to be forecast with unparalleled accuracy.’

The software is packaged with strong encryption to keep proprietary data secure. It works with a machine-linked activation code so that if someone tries to copy the software to another computer or give it to someone else without prior authorisation, it won’t work.

The consultant is so confident in the level of data applied – it promises ‘no rules of thumb’ – that it is offering the tool to any retail stakeholder free of charge.

Omega director James Bailey said:

We didn’t want this tool to be a proprietary product under one company’s domain – we will issue it for use on request, including any upgrades or additions.

Omega will be presenting at InstallerSHOW in the Climate Solutions Theatre on 26 June as part of our expanded coverage of cooling issues. The show will include the UK launch of this year’s World Refrigeration Day and sessions on F-Gas, and  Women in Cooling events. Register for FREE tickets here: