Refrigeration system design

Our team of exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced engineers are dedicated to providing exactly what has been promised, on time and in budget, using the best technology available to deliver quality temperature solutions for our customers.

Star has designed and installed solutions for customers' new installations to replace old or inefficient equipment, to increase plant capacity, to future proof existing plants with sustainable solutions, and to become compliant with F-Gas regulations.

Our refrigeration system designs are proven to offer excellent efficiency ratings as well as energy and CO2 savings. They follow customer’s site specifications thoroughly, and fully adhere to technical specifications and H&S regulations.

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Angus Gillies

Design Director

Related Case Studies

  • Sabic UK Petrochemicals


    As Europe’s leading producer of petrochemicals, SABIC UK demands the highest quality equipment on the market. This ensures that the product is of exceptional quality, as well as enforcing the safety of staff and site visitors. 

    The RBS Butadiene Plant in Wilton is one of SABIC’s 13 world class petrochemical production sites. The company’s existing refrigeration plant is 35 years old and in order to replace and bring it into line with the R22 phase out, which came into force last month – January 2015 – SABIC recruited Star Refrigeration.

    After preliminary consultancy work with STS, a plan was developed to install a bespoke system which completely replaced the existing R22 plant. However, when the total project costs were evaluated, a fully bespoke scheme proved expensive. Star Refrigeration embarked on a mission to produce a lower cost solution using modular package design chillers to meet the process cooling requirements. SABIC trusted Star to keep costs to a minimum and ensure a smooth transition to efficient and low carbon refrigeration systems.

    Jon Hetherington, SABIC Project Group Manager said, “After reviewing the initial total replacement plan, we decided that the costs were simply too high. We started to look for alternative solutions and Star’s modular package project looked attractive. As well as using premium quality equipment, the company enjoys a strong industry reputation which gave us confidence that we were working with one of the most reliable suppliers in the business.”

    As part of the upgrade, Star installed 3 off 193KW ammonia Azanechillers to cool 40% w/w ethylene glycol from –9oC to –14oC. The air-cooled Azanechillers are configured to operate in series for maximum efficiency, actively cooling the glycol supplied to the butadiene process heat exchangers.

    For SABIC, this innovative approach represented a range of benefits. One of the major benefits was the significantly lower cost compared to initial quotes for a fully customised system. The new modular design of the Azanechiller offers improved efficiency and reliability, while the first rate equipment immediately boosts the longevity of the plant, as does the low change ammonia technology employed.

    The use of natural refrigerant ammonia has also future proofed the Wilton RBS Butadiene Plant and brought it into line with governmental law. The conscientious decision of using natural refrigerants cements the company’s status as a responsible manufacturer of “the chemistry that makes things possible.”

    While this particular project was unique, it wasn’t the first time that Star has worked with SABIC. The leading industrial refrigeration and heating supplier has previously supplied a propylene refrigeration system for the SABIC Ethylene Liquefaction Plant at North Tees. The project was a great success, which gave SABIC reassurance that they were enlisting the help of a tried and tested company. 

    Star is currently offering SABIC a three year maintenance contract, which will ensure that the new modular design Azanechiller system continues to perform at its best. 

    In the future, Star hopes to continue to work with SABIC UK Petrochemicals and help the company to maintain its status as Europe’s leading polyethylene and polypropylene business.


  • Peter's Foods


    Peter’s Food Service has boosted production capacity and cut running costs by investing in another energy efficient cooling system from Star Refrigeration.

    Established for over 30 years, Peter’s Food Service is a food manufacturing and distribution specialist. The company supplies quality chilled foods to major supermarkets, retailers and wholesalers across the UK. Its product range includes pies, pasties and sausage rolls, packaged under the Peter’s brand.

    Peter’s Food Service was looking to replace two spiral chillers and associated refrigeration plant at its manufacturing facility at Bedwas in Gwent, South Wales. The company required a modern, energy efficient chilling system that would also enable it to achieve an increase in production capacity on two lines.

    The lines affected produce a range of chilled pies in foil including minced beef, steak and kidney and chicken and mushroom, as well as Cornish pasties, cheese and onion pasties and corned beef pasties.

    Star Refrigeration was tasked to undertake the project for Peter’s Food Service. It forms the latest in a long line of projects completed by Star to meet the company’s refrigeration and air conditioning requirements. Star is a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry.

    Star worked in conjunction with freezing and chilling equipment manufacturer Starfrost on this recent project. It demonstrates another successful joint venture for the two firms, since Starfrost was acquired by Star in 2004.

    Star Refrigeration Sales Director Rob Lamb says: “This latest project for Peter’s Food Service demanded a fast track programme from system design through to delivery. Our engineering team worked closely with Starfrost to ensure minimal
    equipment downtime. We also ensured adjacent food production areas remained operational during the installation phase, completing work on time and to budget.”

    Star designed and installed a separate refrigeration system for each of the two new Starfrost Helix Spiral Chillers at Peter’s Food Service. The previous chilling system operated on the gas refrigerant R22, which is currently undergoing a phase out programme. The new plant operates on R404a, a modern gas refrigerant.

    The refrigeration plant features duplex screw compressors, Low Pressure Receiver (LPR) units and remote evaporative condensers. A reverse cycle defrost facility ensures a fast and efficient defrosting process. The system is engineered to operate with a low refrigerant charge for energy efficiency. Its simple design also helps to reduce maintenance costs.

    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.


  • R Y Henderson


    Cooling solutions specialist Star Refrigeration has completed work at a brand new state-of-the-art abattoir for one of Scotland’s largest beef and lamb processors.

    Based in Linlithgow, West Lothian, R Y Henderson produces a full range of bone-in and boneless primal meat cuts. Its customer base includes food service distributors, multiples, caterers, retailers and major manufacturers across the UK and Channel Islands.

    R Y Henderson has been producing top quality meat including beef, lamb and pork for more than 50 years. All livestock are sourced, slaughtered and processed through the company’s own abattoir. In 2005 the company announced exciting expansion plans and construction work began on a new abattoir development – the first greenfield new build in Scotland for 25 years.

    In order to meet the 65,000 sq ft facility’s post-slaughter refrigeration requirements, R Y Henderson sought expert advice from Star, a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry. Star was commissioned to design, build and install an industrial refrigeration system, in a contract valued at over half a million pounds.

    Star designed an innovative and environmentally conscious refrigeration plant with evaporative condenser to boost energy efficiency. The provision of waste heat recovery from the plant’s oil cooling circuit is capable of meeting 50% of the facility’s wash down and hot water requirements.

    The ammonia central chilling system features pumped propylene glycol as secondary refrigerant. Glycol is distributed through a network of pipes to 13 coolers, which serve various post-slaughter and meat production chill areas. In post-slaughter chill areas, air is distributed directly at the meat carcasses via a sock system to aid the cooling process. The primary ammonia refrigerant is confined to plant room areas to reduce risk.

    Star worked in conjunction with R Y Henderson and its project team to meet the challenging installation programme. The installation of the refrigeration plant has enabled R Y Henderson to boost production at the new facility to meet increased orders.

    R Y Henderson has invested over £6million in the new abattoir and processing plant. It was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne in September 2006.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s leading independent refrigeration engineering company. Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide, providing technical support at 11 locations across the UK.


  • RHM Group


    Star Refrigeration has completed two major projects for businesses within the RHM group, confirming its position as a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry.

    RHM is one of the largest food companies in the UK and Ireland, with over 50 European manufacturing sites. The company manufactures some of the leading brands in bread, cakes and groceries and supplies own label products for major retail customers.

    Star recently completed work on flagship refrigeration engineering projects at RHM’s Charnwood Foods site in Leicester and Avana Bakeries, Newport. The two refrigeration contracts were valued at over £2.2M in total. Star is currently working alongside a number of businesses within the RHM group to develop further specifications for energy efficient and cost effective cooling solutions.

    The Charnwood Foods and Avana Bakeries projects included ammonia refrigeration plants to serve Starfrost spiral freezers and chillers on both sites. As a natural refrigerant, ammonia is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. A low charge ammonia system is widely recognised as highly suited to food processing environments.

    Star also designed and installed a number of air cooled chiller packages. These supply cooling to process areas at Charnwood Foods and provide comfort cooling and product conditioning at the Avana Bakeries facility. A series of direct expansion (DX) refrigeration plants for cold stores and chill rooms were also included on both contracts.

    Star Refrigeration’s National Key Account Manager James Ward says: “Both projects required a range of cost effective and highly energy efficient refrigeration systems. Our engineering team worked closely with each client to develop cooling solutions that deliver best value and maximum operational efficiency.”

    Charnwood Foods manufactures pizza bases for one of the UK’s leading pizza restaurant and delivery chains. Over the past year the company has extended its manufacturing site in Leicester, doubling production capacity to meet increased customer demand. A range of cost effective and energy efficient refrigeration plants were central to the new manufacturing facility.

    Commenting on the completion of the refrigeration contract, Managing Director of Charnwood Foods Richard Cooper says: “Star’s expertise and the equipment installed has complemented other investment that has been made at Charnwood Foods. We have been able to make significant technical advancements in how we manufacture our product. We believe it is important to invest in new technology to make the business more competitive. It is equally important to work with business partners that deliver against their promise. Star has achieved both these key success criteria.”

    Avana Bakeries produces a wide range of cakes and desserts including famous name brands and own label products for major retailers. Earlier this year, a £21million regeneration project was completed at the company’s manufacturing site near Rogerstone, South Wales. It was vital that new refrigeration systems were efficient in operation and provided the company with the flexibility to process a wide range of products.

    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.


  • Shetland Catch


    Clibberswick, Burrafirth and Caldback sound as if they could be somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales, home of James Herriott, Nora Batty and Emmerdale. If you thought so, think again, for they are over 500 miles further north, and halfway to Norway. They are on the tiny island of Ulva, and for their inhabitants the town of Lerwick in the Shetlands represents the fleshpots of the south. For the rest of us Lerwick is so far north it needs to be dragged into a special box in the corner of the weather forecast. While it may be remote, it is certainly not a backwater, as recent developments at Shetland Catch Ltd in Gremista, just outside Lerwick, can testify.

    The deep inshore waters, which made Orkney and Shetland home to the Scapa Flow fleet and more recently to the oilmen of Sullum Voe, allow trawlers like MV Serene and MV Adenia II (pictured) to berth right alongside the new Shetland Catch factory on the quayside.

    The recent factory expansion, involving a £9.5m investment in buildings and plant, has increased blast freezing capacity from 200 tonnes per day up to over 750 tonnes per day, and the total daily throughput, including plate-frozen filleted and whole fish, is in excess of 1000 tonnes. "This is probably the largest pelagic factory anywhere in the world," said Derek Leask, Shetland Catch’s Managing Director, at the opening ceremony.

    For the opening ceremony, on the 18th of August, the sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky, giving no indication of the additional difficulties, which had been posed by the weather through the project. Even in the summer months, flight delays of several hours owing to sea mist were common, and on a few occasions engineers flew all the way from Aberdeen, only to be turned back on final approach as the fog rolled in.

    Shetland Catch is a joint venture between the Lerwick Port Authority, the Shetland Fish Producers Organisation, Jaytee Seafoods and Whalsay Fish, and it provides processing facilities to the pelagic fleet based around Shetland. Unlike cod and haddock, pelagic fish (herring and mackerel) are still plentiful in these waters, but until now much of the catch had to be landed and processed in Norway. Most of the factory’s output goes overseas, with up to 50% destined for Nigeria and much of the rest shared between Russia and Japan.

    The strategic importance of the new facility is that it is now large enough to accommodate two trawlers at once. As they often fish in pairs, and otherwise would have to seek separate ports to offload their catch, twin processing in Lerwick can save up to four days sailing time from a twelve day voyage. This is highly valuable to the ship owners and crews, but also to the processors and their clients.

    Like many other food processes, the fishing industry is highly seasonal. Shetland Catch work the herring season, which runs from 1st July to mid-September, and the mackerel season, from 1st October until mid March. Plant reliability is imperative, for if the system does not work in season the fish will not wait and huge amounts of product will be lost. Access for site work is also, by definition, seasonal; strictly confined to the short periods between fishing.

    Working with Shetland Catch and Dr Mike Hewitt of Cuillin Refrigeration Services, Star Refrigeration developed a project plan which enabled the fourfold increase in capacity to be achieved without loss of processing time, but also enabled the existing plant to be upgraded to current technical standards and integrated into the new system.

    The green light for the project was given on 21st December 2000, and the New Year started with a frantic design and fabrication process, ready for the site start on 1st April. The amount of new construction and pipe installation work required for the project made it impossible to complete everything for the herring deadline, so the agreed plan was to retain the existing 200 tonnes/day plant from 1st July. On 1st August the new plant was introduced, giving 520 tonnes/day, and the existing system was shut down for transfer onto the new central plant. This transfer, including all piping, wiring and control modifications was completed in fourteen days, just in time for the project’s opening ceremony, which was attended by guests from all round the world.

    To achieve detailed design and construction in such a short timescale, Shetland Catch short circuited the usual tender bid process, cutting an estimated two to three months from the total programme. Star provided detailed costs for all elements on an open book basis as the design was developed, and this close correlation of detailed design and budget planning enabled several cost savings to be identified and implemented, even after the design was well underway. Once the design was finalised the price was agreed and the contract then proceeded along traditional "fixed price" lines. "This gave the whole process the kick start that it needed," said Star’s Sales Director, David Blackhurst. "With the knowledge gained from other recent projects we also evaluated a cascade system based on carbon dioxide. A brief feasibility study conducted over the Christmas/New Year holiday showed that while the costs looked attractive, we were less certain about achieving the tight timescales. We therefore were able to start back after the break fully committed to the traditional two-stage ammonia plant design."

    There are ten blast freezer chambers, each roughly 100m2 in plan and 6m high, and the evaporators are fed from a common surge drum located outside, at the end of the freezer hall. The existing plant used three Grasso packages, each with a booster and high stage screw compressor on a common baseplate. This configuration is becoming quite common but to meet the increased duty a further seven packages of the same size would have been required. It was quickly decided that this was not economic, and so Grasso were asked to look at larger packages instead. The new skids, the largest of this type ever built by Grasso, use thecolossal Gamma compressor with a suction swept volume of 4,900m3/h.

    Four of these monsters, together with the three existing packages, provide a total installed capacity of 5,400kW at –40°C suction pressure. Each screw compressor is controlled by a Simatic PLC, and these are linked to the latest generation of Star’s TELSTAR control system. This provides full colour graphics and data logging for the entire system, and links by modem for remote monitoring.

    It was easy to incorporate the existing compressors into the new SCADA system once a few minor modifications were made to the older PLCs. As the new system uses Echelon processors on a LONworks network it is also ideal for future expansion, just in case four million herring per day turns out to be insufficient for world demand.

    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.

    Star offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant. Established in Glasgow in 1970, the company 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.


  • Supply Chain Specialist


    Star Refrigeration has supplied a dual temperature cooling system as part of a warehouse conversion project for a leading European supply chain specialist.

    The logistics provider was looking to convert an existing empty warehouse at its site in Hertfordshire into a temperature controlled food and beverage storage and distribution facility. The client required an energy efficient cooling system for cold and chill stores within the building, using environmentally conscious natural refrigerants.

    Working on behalf of the building contractor, Star supplied a bespoke ammonia refrigeration plant to meet both frozen and chill requirements within the new facility. Star completed the fast track project in less than six months from order placement.

    A world leader in cooling and heating system innovation, Star designed, built, installed and commissioned a two-stage pumped circulation ammonia refrigeration plant for the facility. Located in a plant room adjacent to the warehouse building, the system has an overall capacity of 2,224kW including cooling for the cold store, chill store and loading bay areas.

    The existing ambient warehouse was fitted out with a 9,000 sq m frozen chamber operating at -25°C and a 5,000 sq m chill chamber operating at +2°C. Cooling is delivered to the chambers via evaporators located along one wall of the facility. These discharge air 120 metres across the store towards the vehicle loading docks.

    Star Refrigeration’s Director of Sales – Food Market, James Ward, says: “This project confirms our continued ability to deliver innovative bespoke solutions to exactly match customer requirements. The plant provides optimum efficiency and uses an environmentally benign refrigerant in terms of global warming and ozone depletion.”

    The refrigeration plant features two low stage, two high stage and one ‘swing’ screw compressor, low temperature and high temperature surge drums and two evaporative condensers. Star’s Telstar PLC computerised control system ensures optimum performance, with HMI touch screen interface.

    Star’s energy efficient design package includes high efficiency compressor drive motors, Aether condenser fan inverter controller and intelligent compressor/cooler controls. Star also provided underfloor heating for the frozen chamber with oil circuit heat recovery. In addition, Star designed and installed a rainwater harvesting system for the evaporative condensers, making use of an existing water storage tank.

    When it comes to designing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with strategic partners across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.


  • The Ice Factor


    The Ice Factor, based at Kinlochleven in the West Highlands of Scotland opened on Saturday 27th December 2003. What makes this new climbing centre special is its ice-climbing wall, the largest indoor facility of its type in the world. With a 15m high ice wall, covering an area of approximately 800m2 The Ice Factor aims to provide the winter climbing enthusiast with all the experiences that they might find in the open, but without the 2 hour walk-in to find the right bit of ice. In a controlled and safe environment, beginners can cut their teeth and experts hone their technique.

    The Ice Cave, as the low temperature area of the facility is called, includes features such as Pillar Ice, a Neve Wall, the Fall out Gully and The Ledge. The ice-climbing wall has been designed and installed by Star Refrigeration, in conjunction with Entre-Prises, a leading designer and installer of artificial climbing walls.

    Jamie Smith, the MD, founder and majority shareholder of the Ice Factor first set his mind to the problem of how people could be taught winter climbing in a safe environment after witnessing a tragic accident whilst ice climbing in the Scottish Highlands.

    Over 10 years and a casual chat with an MBA colleague later, Jamie has now launched this major leisure development which, within the first month of opening, had attracted virtually all the UK's top 100 climbers through its doors.

    Jamie first seriously considered the project in 1989 and he chose the site following a mountaineering trip above the Mamore Mountains. "I was descending into Kinlochleven on the Devil's Staircase section of the West Highland Way and saw the building. It was formerly part of the aluminium smelter, but looked perfect for a climbing centre."

    A chance discussion after an MBA lecture with classmate Dave Pearson, who worked for Star Refrigeration, revealed that Dave's father is Professor Forbes Pearson, a world-renowned expert on refrigeration engineering. Jamie then met with the design team at Star Refrigeration and that laid the foundations for how real ice and snow could be created in a controlled environment.

    Simulating what nature provides is actually extremely difficult. A process of repeat "freeze/thaw" achieves the best climbing conditions on the ice wall. This process is bolstered by the surface of the rock being frozen and water/snow freezing hard on the surface. Recreating this process takes a number of separate steps.

    Under the floor of the ice room is around 15m of concrete to hold the massive weight of the ice. The floor also carries a heat membrane to prevent the ice breaking into the foundations of the building. The entire room is insulated with a single piece panel, essentially building a gigantic fridge.

    The room is laid out in a steel frame to support the weight/loads of the climbing walls. The steel frame then has rebar (as for motorway construction) overlaid. This is shaped to form the arretes, edges, gully features etc. A maze of coolant pipes is laid behind the rebar. This piping carries the industrial glycol coolant, which allows the operator to cool the room rapidly. It can bring the temperature down to -10ºC.

    Concrete is sprayed over the top of the pipes/rebar. This gives additional strength and provides an excellent surface to which the ice can adhere. The industrial coolants and fans provide the temperature flexibility to create "real" ice/snow/frozen turf/neve.

    For the ice wall cooling, Star Refrigeration designed and built a customised low-pressure received chiller unit incorporating two semi-hermetic screw compressors, a plate heat exchanger evaporator and surge vessel operating on R404A refrigerant. The unit has a total refrigeration duty of 100kW and is cooling ethylene glycol from -8ºC to -10ºC.

    For the room cooling system, Star Refrigeration designed and supplied a skid mounted condensing unit, providing 38 kW of cooling capacity and operating on R404A refrigerant. The refrigerant is fed to a DX air cooler mounted in The Ice Cave. Both units reject heat to atmosphere via air-cooled condensers.

    "Other companies had tried wood or artificial walls for ice climbing," said Jamie. "No solution was ideal, but on a snowboarding trip to Vermont I saw roadside, low level ice climbs to an extremely high standard. People were having all the fun of ice climbing without the imminent danger of death the Scottish scene is associated with - and that's what I wanted to develop."

    "It is safe to say that without Star Refrigeration, the Ice Factor would have never happened - they possess not only an incredible skill set for all things to do with refrigeration, but an overt passion for problem solving."

    "Those two skills of knowledge and passion have ensured that we've built the world's biggest indoor ice wall, in Scotland, with Scottish technology - wonderful!"

    Star is recognised as the leading UK authority in the field of refrigeration for ice and leisure applications, having designed and installed more than 70% of the UK's ice rinks in the past 30 years. In addition, it has designed and built the iceberg attraction at the Dynamic Earth centre in Edinburgh, the Deep Exhibition attraction in Hull and the ice effects for Aston Martin at the 2002 Motor Show in the NEC, Birmingham.

    Star and Entre-Prises had designed and installed ice-climbing walls for Tiso Outdoor Equipment in Glasgow and for Bever, a Dutch retailer of outdoor and climbing equipment, based in Den Haag, before carrying out the Ice Factor project. This project is different from the previous ones in scale and the levels of complexity that it offers those climbing on it.

    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.