Pharmaceutical & Process

Temperatures in the pharmaceutical and process industries are stringently controlled and rigorously monitored - which is why many of the sector's biggest names turn to Star for refrigeration solutions. From Fujifilm to GSK, we have delivered bespoke cooling and heating packages for players of all sizes, ensuring total compliance with the strict regulations that govern these sectors. Our solutions have also meant energy and financial savings for our customers, providing high-quality refrigeration packages and chillers that have zero impact on the environment.

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Alan Walkinshaw

Process Cooling Market Manager

Related Case Studies

  • AGC Chemicals Europe


    Based in Thornton Cleveleys, AGC Chemicals Europe is a global leading producer of fluorochemicals used in industrial applications, agriculture, construction and much more.
    When the site was hit by a major failure of  one of their process heat exchangers, an onsite contractor recommended Star as the reliable experts for the job.

    The equipment failure meant that AGC Chemicals could not operate its refrigerant process line. The process fluid needed to be cooled to below -300C which required specialist Low Temperature (LT) refrigeration equipment. Downtime on this process line is extremely costly to the business if it is not operational, so it was essential that an assessment and plan of action was developed rapidly in order to deliver the right solution. The client was looking for a temporary refrigeration solution for their process line that would allow them to  be operational again as quickly as possible.

    A team of senior engineers from Star’s local branch attended site within half an hour of the call-out. The issues were established and the temporary solution requirements were identified. Thanks to a business partnership with temporary supplier of chillers, Aggreko, Star was able to deliver the specialist temporary temperature controlled solution to site within a short time frame. Aggreko provided 2 off VLTC chillers for approximately 150kW of cooling to below -300C, two off heat rejection air cooled chillers, a special LT heat exchanger which was connected into the customer’s process line, circulation pumps, a buffer tank and generators. 

    Dr. Rudolph Prince, Head of Engineering at AGC Chemicals Europe, said, “The thing that really impressed us about Star was the speed in which they reacted to our situation. We needed the equipment on site as soon as possible so we could start up production again with minimum disruption. It was all coordinated over the weekend, and the temperature solution allowed us to be fully operational again within a few days so we didn’t suffer from further downtime.”

    Furthermore, the chemical plant found that the temporary refrigeration equipment was much more efficient than their fixed site equipment. Star’s selection of the right temporary solution for the site capacity and temperature requirements delivered a more effective cooling process, allowing for a larger output of product than the plant it replaced. This allowed the site to catch up with the back log of production from the downtime very quickly once they were operational again.

    Now that AGC Chemicals are aware of Star Refrigeration’s expertise, the companies are likely to form a long term partnership. Star has already delivered a second temporary solution with Aggreko elsewhere on site, and there is scope for consultation on overall site requirements.

    In terms of future work at the plant, Star plan to ensure AGC’s  peace of mind by protecting their business operations-should the unthinkable happen-with Star’s Refrigeration Temperature Control Contingency Plan Scheme. This will help the site prepare better for future refrigeration equipment failures. AGC Chemicals will turn to Star for any future equipment installation needs, with Star’s technical consultants, STS, ready to undertake a full site survey and produce a technical specification for a new installation to replace the time served plant.

    This successful project highlights how Star Refrigeration’s UK branch network can provide expertise and a rapid response in an industrial emergency situation. While the equipment failure was unwelcomed by AGC Chemicals Europe, it provided an opportunity for the company to see how more efficient technology could benefit them in the long term, both economically and environmentally.

    For more information on Star’s preventative services and contingency planning visit /news/chiller-contingency-planning-for-critical-cooling-situations-keeps-star-refrigeration-customers-cool.aspx


  • Alstom


    Star Refrigeration has developed an innovative gas recovery and recycling system for Alstom, the power plant solutions specialist.

    Alstom specialises in the design and manufacture of steam turbines, gas turbines and hydro power plants. The company continually develops new products to improve power plant and component performance.

    Star’s thermodynamic system has been installed at Alstom’s UK research facility in the Midlands. The system was developed to replace existing equipment with a more environmentally efficient solution.

    The new dual-purpose system supplies HFC refrigerant R134a to a research and development (R+D) test facility. The gas is then recovered and condensed by the system, before it is recycled.

    The plant features an air-cooled evaporator and condenser in one unit. The evaporator uses ambient air to generate 1000kg/hr of R134a gas from liquid at 3.5 Bar (A).

    A reciprocating compressor delivers superheated gas to the R+D test facility at the required pressure. The gas is later recovered and condensed in an air-cooled condenser.

    It is then stored as a liquid in a high pressure receiver, before being re-circulated by the system.

    The system also features a unique Star manufactured purger, capable of removing up to 4kg/h of non-condensable gases. The plant is operated by Telstar, Star’s patented computerised control system.

    Alstom’s innovative system was developed in consultation with Star’s technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS). STS operates as an independent consultancy, working alongside Alstom from the design stage through to commissioning.

    Star-owned mechanical and electrical contractor Penec was responsible for the removal of an existing electrical system. Penec also completed the installation of new electrical panels and wiring.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.


  • Fujifilm


    Star Refrigeration has supplied an energy efficient process cooling plant for FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants, a world leader in the development and manufacture of inkjet colorants.

    FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants (FFIC) develops and supplies high performance colorants for the global digital printing market. The FFIC site at Grangemouth, Scotland, manufactures colorants for inkjet and toner cartridges used in printers and copiers throughout the world.

    In a contract valued at over a quarter of a million pounds, Star designed and installed an environmentally conscious process cooling plant for colorant manufacture at the Grangemouth site. The low temperature ammonia water-cooled chiller provides energy efficient operation at varying process heat loads.

    Star’s refrigeration plant supplies rapid cooling to reactor jackets on a number of new process reactors. This plays a key role in providing accurate and responsive temperature control of key processing steps – helping to ensure the materials produced satisfy exacting quality standards.

    Operating on natural ammonia refrigerant, the highly efficient plant cools 156m³/hr of ethylene glycol/water solution from -17°C to -20°C. It is designed to meet a peak process reactor heat load of 430kW for less than one hour, a sustained operating load of 350kW and a normal operating duty of 20-160kW.

    Three screw compressors enable the chiller to provide excellent energy efficiency at part load.

    The plant also features low refrigerant charge plate heat exchangers, a horizontal surge drum and two fixed speed primary glycol pumps.

    Further energy savings are provided by variable speed drive motors on two secondary glycol pumps. This enables flow to be varied according to cooling demand. Star’s patented TELSTAR computerised control system ensures optimum performance and efficiency. This includes floating suction and discharge pressure control and optimised compressor sequencing.

    The plant is located externally, adjacent to the main manufacturing building. The compressors are housed in a low noise acoustic enclosure. This features access doors, an ammonia gas detection system and extract ventilation fans.

    Commenting on the project, Zac Meadows, Chemical Engineering Group Leader for FULIFILM, says: “Star worked closely with us to design an economically competitive solution which satisfied our demanding production requirements and environmental needs. We look forward to the plant continuing to deliver reliable and efficient cooling across the range of colorant production processes to be operated in this flagship new facility."

    Star is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems.


  • GSK Stevenage


    Star Refrigeration has completed work as part of an award-winning £5million project at GlaxoSmithKline’s Medicines Research Centre in Stevenage.

    GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. GSK’s Stevenage site is one of nine pharmaceutical R&D facilities in the UK. The site houses GSK’s largest chemistry pilot plant, which is used to scale up drug substances.

    GSK was looking to boost cooling capacity within the pilot plant to carry out an increased number of pharmaceutical processes. As well as upgrading its refrigeration plant, the company also wanted to replace two existing chiller units in line with the phase out of R22 refrigerant. It was vital that the new refrigeration plant would be environmentally sound and energy efficient.

    Star Refrigeration was chosen by project management specialists PROjEN Plc, the main contractor on the GSK project, for their specialist knowledge of the refrigeration process. Star specialises in bespoke systems for industrial cooling and is committed to pioneering natural refrigerant solutions.

    In August 2004 Star successfully replaced the two R22 chiller units with a central ammonia refrigeration plant. The new refrigeration plant was commissioned within a short timeframe to coincide with a planned 30-day shut down period at the pilot plant.

    PROjEN’s Senior Project Manager Steve Campbell says: “This was a time critical, flagship project for GSK. The client was looking to invest in an environmentally sound and energy efficient refrigeration plant. We strive to work in partnership with the leading suppliers of professional services on all projects and felt Star had the best ability to provide a quality service for both ourselves and GSK.”

    The new plant features state-of-the-art components, including two screw compressors, two evaporative condensers and plate and shell heat exchangers. Star also connected two existing ammonia compressor systems to the new refrigeration plant. The new plant has a total cooling capacity of around 2,000KW. A computerised control system with dual display panels ensures built-in reliability and continuous operation.

    The new refrigeration plant is designed to cool a secondary heat transfer fluid (HTF) to –30°C, with the facility to reach –40°C for low temperature applications. This HTF is then circulated to meet cooling requirements in reactors and modules throughout the pilot plant. Star was also responsible for decommissioning, removing and safely disposing of the existing R22 refrigerant.

    The new refrigeration plant forms part of a £5million project being managed by PROjEN at GSK’s Stevenage site. Further investment managed by PROjEN includes new HTF pumps and a purpose built plant room to house the new refrigeration system.

    PROjEN was recently presented with the Project of the Year title for the GSK project in the European Construction Institute’s ACTIVE Awards 2004. The ECI ACTIVE Awards recognise outstanding projects undertaken by some of the largest contractors and project support organisations in Europe.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.


  • Huntsman Pigments & Additives


    Since 1970, Huntsman has been a global leader in the manufacturing and marketing of differentiated chemicals. Huntsman is a leading supplier of Titanium Dioxide pigment, which is used to add brightness, whiteness and opacity to thousands of consumer products manufactured across the globe.

    The refrigeration plant at Huntsman Pigments and Additives’ factory at Greatham, UK needed updating due to the phase out of R22. Star Refrigeration first looked at the replacement project in 2010. After proposing an innovative, cost-effective solution that worked with the R22 phase out deadline, Huntsman appointed Star to deliver the replacement.

    David Laws, Star’s Sales Manager – Process Industries, said: “We have been working closely with the Huntsman engineering team for a number of years prior to this replacement project and offered a number of alternative schemes before the direct system was accepted.”

    Star carried out a GAP analysis of the project specifications pre-contract to ensure Huntsman’s requirements were satisfied. The process heat exchanger design was paramount to ensure that it matched the site installation configuration and the ammonia refrigeration packages were mounted with an explosion proof plant room.

    Star proposed a cost effective project plan with the lowest life cycle costs. This involved the use of a zero carbon ammonia system located inside a purpose built plant room.

    All equipment is suitable for Hazardous Area Zone 2 11A T1 regulations to meet Huntsman site safety and compliance standards. Star also allowed for easy integration of the entire refrigeration plant with their existing site control system.

    One of the key features of the state-of-the-art direct refrigeration system was the high integrity construction of the process heat exchangers and materials used to prevent any cross contamination between the ammonia and process gas. The premium quality equipment also increases plant reliability, longevity and minimises the need for ongoing maintenance and repairs, as all components are built to industrial quality standards.

    Star’s approach to the project and the efficiency with which works were carried out during the whole process, from the specification stage, to design, manufacture, installation and commissioning, was praised, notably as the final phase was undertaken with minimal disruption to Huntsman’s usual business operations.

    Star rose to the challenge and came up with an innovative solution that complies with regulations, reduces carbon footprint, boosts plant efficiency and ultimately increases business’s bottom line.

    Over the past few years, the leading industrial refrigeration company has been helping world-class organisations and small businesses across the nation prepare for the phase out. This extensive experience made Star a trustworthy ally for any business on the lookout for a reliable R22 phase out supplier.

    This was not the first project that Star had executed for Huntsman Pigments and Additives in Teesside, with the company previously installing an NH3 refrigeration/chilling system in 2002. This indirect system used brine cooled by an ammonia refrigeration plant. The brine was then circulated to cool the product.

    Star has also been providing Huntsman with onsite maintenance since 2001.


  • Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals


    Danish owned Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals has recently expanded its facilities at Seal Sands to increase its production capacity of bulk pharmaceuticals.

    Foster Wheeler provided the engineering, procurement, construction management and validation/commissioning for the project utilising their project management expertise from their Reading and Teesside offices. The highly prestigious multi-million pound new bulk pharmaceutical production plant, has been built on Lundbeck’s site at Seal Sands in Teesside to provide the manufacturing capabilities of Lundbeck’s new anti-depressant drug - Cipralex.

    The process requires that the temperatures must be controlled continuously to acceptable levels. As part of the joint alliance Foster Wheeler’s project management team brought together specialist contractors with expertise in various aspects of the project and capable of meeting the fast track project timescale. These included civil design of the building, on site mechanical and electrical installation services and cooling equipment used to maintain the required process temperatures expected with exothermic chemical reactions.

    Star Refrigeration were chosen by the project management team to meet the demands of the specialist refrigeration requirements and also to meet the requirements of Lundbeck’s project cost and rapid site construction program. This single source responsibility for the refrigeration equipment included custom-built refrigeration packages, tank/pump skids and starter/control panels to minimise site construction and testing.

    During the process the product temperature requirements vary widely. Therminol D12, supplied by Solutia was chosen as the thermal heat transfer fluid due to its highly stable combined heating and cooling properties and capability of operating at temperatures between –85°C and +260°C.

    Lundbeck’s design brief for the refrigeration plant was simple. The refrigeration plant must be extremely reliable, environmentally friendly, with low noise emission and have a state of the art control system available to control the equipment used as part of a modern pharmaceutical production facility. However the method of achieving these requirements was open to discussion.

    Star’s approach was to work closely with the FWEL project design team at the beginning of the contract to develop an understanding of the process heat load and temperature profile requirements addressing other specific process needs to provide a refrigeration system meeting all of Lundbeck’s needs. This showed that two refrigeration systems are required. A +5°C circuit is designated as the low temperature heat transfer fluid (LT HTF) Refrigeration Package and a –25°C circuit designated as the low-low temperature heat transfer fluid (LLT HTF) Refrigeration Package. To meet the current trends in Environmental and HSE requirements each package was designed to operate as an air-cooled Ammonia system.

    The low temperature heat transfer fluid system capacity is 1400kW. It is arranged to cool 400m3/hr of Therminol D12 from +13.5°C to a final temperature of +5°C. The custom built package included two Howden screw compressors and 185kW drive motors within an acoustic enclosure, a surge drum and two Vahterus plate and shell evaporators operating with ammonia as the refrigerant. The plate and shell evaporators were selected to meet the requirement of low refrigerant charge and the client’s familiarity of use on other parts of the process. The refrigeration package is connected to the remote low noise air-cooled condensers. Compressor oil cooling is achieved using glycol circulated through a separate remote dry air cooler.

    The low-low temperature heat transfer fluid system capacity is 220kW arranged to cool 50m3/hr of Therminol D12 from –14.6°C to a final temperature of –25°C. This system package included a single Howden screw compressor with 185kW drive motor within an acoustic enclosure, surge drum and Vahterus plate and shell evaporator operating with Ammonia refrigerant. Similar to the +5C plant the refrigeration package was connected to a remote low noise air-cooled condenser that has an in built oil cooling circuit therefore minimising the required site plot area.

    In addition to the refrigeration packages Star’s responsibility includes the supply of a custom built tank and pumps skid to circulate the Therminol between the process reactor loop and tank and the refrigeration package evaporators. Primary and secondary Therminol pumps with ANSI 300 connections were supplied from the USA.

    The 12m3 tank in the +5°C circuit provides an adequate thermal buffer capacity to prevent short cycling of the compressors and is also a means to drain Therminol from process heat exchangers and vessels for local maintenance requirements. To accommodate any changes to the Therminol volume in the system due to design ambient changes, the tank incorporates an expansion volume area. It is an important requirement to maintain moisture free conditions in the Therminol circuit so a nitrogen blanket is provided above the working level of Therminol within the tank. The tank pressure is regulated with nitrogen being introduced on fall of tank pressure (2 Bar (g)) and discharged on increase in tank pressure (2.2Bar (g)).

    The design of standby in the –25°C system is somewhat different. Lundbeck required the –25°C plant to meet the normal operation of the process with a single refrigeration system and also handle an emergency condition of maintaining the reaction temperatures within stringent acceptable limits should the refrigeration package stop for any unplanned reason. Both FWEL and Star considered this requirement and decided to use a “Latent Heat Storage System”. “This was an interesting design solution rather than installing a complete spare plant” commented David Laws, Star Refrigeration’s Sales Manager for Process Industries.

    The system uses a Therminol to Glycol plate & shell heat exchanger connected to a 7m3 Storage Tank containing “Phase Change Material” to allow thermal energy to be stored. The PCM nodules are high-density polyethylene moulded spheres containing a salt solution designed to change phase at a temperature of –18.3°C with a latent heat of 47.5kWh/m3 over 1 hour.

    As Therminol is not compatible with the PCM nodule material, a separate loop containing 50% w/w Ethylene Glycol solution was used. In normal operation the Therminol is cooled by the refrigeration package to the design temperature. A Therminol/Glycol Plate & Shell heat exchanger is connected to the system so that the cold Therminol cools the glycol loop and subsequently freezes the PCM nodules in the Latent Heat Storage Tank. Should the refrigeration plant stop for any unplanned reason, the returning warm Therminol passes through the Therminol/Glycol heat exchanger, and will continue to be chilled by the cooling effect stored in the PCM nodules.

    The complete Tank/Pump skid includes not only the Latent Heat Storage Tank but also a 2m3 Therminol expansion tank and process pumps. The expansion tank is supplied with the nitrogen blanket and regulating valves. As the plant is operating at low temperatures it was decided to provide a Therminol Drier into the package. The drier takes a constant supply of Therminol from the circuit and passes it across the desiccant filter material removing any moisture that may be present.

    Star provided starter/control panels for both systems including ammonia gas detection systems for the screw compressor packages. The acoustic enclosures were fitted with Zone 1 ventilation fans, lighting and ammonia gas detectors.

    To control the +5°C and –25°C refrigeration systems Star used their TELSTAR Mark 3 PLC Control system linked to the control junction boxes on each package. Although the TELSTAR Mark 3 system is a stand-alone system it is also linked to the clients DCS control system for remote alarm connected via a modem to the local Star branch office providing remote monitoring of the plant and has a facility to reset the plant remotely should the system report a minor fault. Indication that the plant is operating beyond the design set points minimises unnecessary plant stoppages prior to the service engineer attending site to reset the plant.

    This facility not only provides Lundbeck with the means to meet their current production needs, but with its modular design and innovative use of thermal storage it will also be extremely easy and cost-effective to upgrade for future expansion when that is required.

    Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.

    Star has an unrivalled track record of high quality products and services across a broad range of industry sectors including food production, cold storage and distribution, brewing and distilling, building services, leisure, pharmaceutical and petrochemical.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 260 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.


  • Roche Products


    Cooling solutions specialist Star Refrigeration has completed work as part of an award-winning project for Roche Products, one of the world’s leading healthcare groups.

    Star designed and installed an environmentally advanced and energy efficient cooling system for the building air conditioning at Roche’s new UK headquarters. The state-of-the-art facility in Hertfordshire houses the company’s pharmaceutical business, which provides products and services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

    Environmental sustainability was a guiding principle in the design and construction of Roche’s new headquarters at Shire Park in Welwyn Garden City. Energy efficient cooling for the building’s air conditioning system was key to achieving the high environmental standard and reduced carbon emission levels required.

    The Project Team including Roche, Meica, and BD chose Star as the team’s refrigeration engineering partner. Star specialises in the design, manufacture, installation and operation of highly energy efficient refrigeration systems. The company is renowned for pioneering natural refrigerant solutions to meet the changing needs of customers.

    Star developed a total of five high efficiency chillers to meet the air conditioning and cooling requirements at the Roche headquarters. The project has just received a major award within the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. Cooling Industry Award judges praised the installation for pushing forward the boundaries of environmentally friendlier technology.

    Andy Pearson, Managing Director of Star Refrigeration, says: "Star worked closely with Roche and its project partners to combine several environmental themes with innovative thinking and high quality engineering. Every aspect of the project was conceived with care for the local and global environment. We are proud to have played a key role in providing efficient, reliable and futureproof cooling solutions for a world class facility."

    Star designed and installed two packaged ammonia chillers for general building cooling at the Roche headquarters. The chillers are located on the roof of the building and feature ambient air-cooled condensers to boost efficiency. Each ammonia chiller has a cooling capacity of 930kW.

    Three hydrocarbon chillers were also developed to serve computer cooling requirements on site. The chillers operate with improved performance at average ambient temperature conditions. Each hydrocarbon chiller has a cooling capacity of 130kW.

    All five chillers are fitted with leak detection and alarm systems to minimise health and safety risks. Each chiller features a computerised PLC control system to ensure built-in reliability and continuous operation.

    The Roche project received the ‘Installation of the Year Award – Commercial’ in the Cool Industry Awards 2005. A recent independent report also verified that the new building has achieved CO2 emission levels around 20 per cent below the current Building Regulations target.

    Roche’s new UK headquarters is a 21,800sqm building located on a 10 acre site. The state-of-the-art facility features a health and fitness centre, library, restaurant and café. The building houses around 1,200 Roche staff.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.