Thermal cells made by Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, have helped a food distributor in Bermuda reduce refrigeration costs by 40 percent.
The thermal cells were installed in the ceiling of Butterfield and Vallis' 10,000-square-foot warehouse freezer in 2015. The cells consist of a salt hydrate solution contained in conductive thermal plastic tubes. The phase change material solidifies when the chillers are running. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing the chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of -18º Celsius.
The system is among 20 built and installed by Viking in cold storage warehouses in Puerto Rico, Bermuda, St. Thomas, California, New Mexico and Texas. Collin Coker, Viking's vice president for sales and marketing, said his company is working on pilot grocery store installations in Texas and California.
Spencer Butterfield, chief operating officer at Butterfield and Vallis, says a 2013 tax break on the importation of energy-saving technology helped make the system economically feasible. He estimated that the system will pay for itself in four years.
The design of Viking's thermal cells continues to evolve. Below: The system installed at New Mexico Foods in 2015 consists of film pouches suspended in steel racks. Bottom: The company's newest design consists of blow-molded HDPE bottles mounted on steel tubing.