Women in Engineering

Women in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering

Author

Astrid Prado

Marketing Manager

On 23rd June, National Women in Engineering Day will be celebrated worldwide for the third time, giving the industry a platform to celebrate current women engineers and to encourage other young women to consider a career in engineering.

According to the most recent statistics report by Women’s Engineering Society (WES)[i], only 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female.[ii] In fact, the UK currently has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in the whole of Europe – about 20% lower than countries such as Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus.[iii]

Further statistics reveal that only 20% of A Level physics students are girls, and this has not changed in the last 25 years.[iv] The amount of young women studying engineering and physics at university has remained virtually static since 2012[v], and only 15.8% of engineering and technology undergraduates are female.[vi]

Certainly, this is not due to a lack of ability. Ingrained societal and cultural norms act as a barrier for women entering into a field of work traditionally seen as “masculine.” As Naomi Climer, president of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) puts it, “in France, the origins of engineer are in ‘ingenious’, while in English it is ‘engine’ and these subtleties have a symbolic impact.”[vii]

Moreover, a recent study[viii] into gender bias in the technology industry showed that women often outperformed men in some of the most male-dominated subjects, even though they represent the minority. The study also discovered that computer code written by a woman was more likely to be approved by peers than code written by a man, but only if it was not revealed that the code was written by a woman. It appears that the engineering industry’s existing prejudice has repercussions – whether conscious or not – in women’s ability to gain the same levels of recognition as men.

When women account for less than 10% of the engineering workforce, the only way forward is to push for change.

A number of educational and promotional initiatives have recently been developed to recruit and retain more women into the industry. The Institution of Engineering and Technology has joined forces with the Prospect trade union to recruit more women engineers[ix], and the Institute of Refrigeration (IoR) is launching a new network to promote Women in RACHP, to coincide with National Women in Engineering Day on June 23 – registration for the network is open at www.ior.org.uk/womeninRACHP.

In addition, the editor of the ACR Journal, Will Hawkins, made it part of his editorial objectives to celebrate women working in the industry with the introduction of the ‘Women in ACR’ feature.[x] This is especially significant because it could be said that there is a lack of celebrated female engineer role models for young girls to look up to, and the ACR Journal is helping to bring them forward.

The variety of creative and stimulating careers available to women in refrigeration and heating is vast, and our industry has begun taking more initiative to open its doors to women. By pressing on with this type of support for women to reach their full potential as engineers, we can hope to see a more diverse industry in the future.

Growing equality equals a growing industry

Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue, but also a critical economic challenge.

Although there is certain level of fulfilment when like-minded colleagues agree on a new idea, this comes at a high cost. Missing out on a diverse pool of thoughts and creative ideas affects innovation and profitability, as research by McKinsey & Co.[i] suggests: companies with a gender diverse workforce are likely to perform 15% better, as a diverse range of perspectives on issues can provide a gateway to a broader variety of solutions.

So, what else can we do to enlist a younger generation of female engineers who have the potential to shape and innovate our future?

  • Star Refrigeration engineer Sarah Patrick at Star's Water Source District Heat Pump in Drammen

FemEng

As an ageing population of skilled workers contributes to the nationwide engineer shortfall, we should turn our focus to the generation of today to give rise to the engineers of tomorrow.

Perhaps we could learn from FemEng, a group of young female engineers from the University of Glasgow. FemEng was founded in 2013 by UoG’s Engineering Society President, Ellen Simmons. FemEng visit local schools in Glasgow to speak to girls about the importance of engineering and how anyone can do it – not just boys.

“There are lots of reasons why girls in particular aren’t studying engineering, but we believe those reasons are not because they’re incapable, we believe those reasons are because a lot of girls just don’t know what engineering entails,” says Simmons.

“A lot of girls are intimidated by the engineering environment as it’s full of men – it’s the idea that you’ll be in a minority, feeling as if you have to prove yourself more, feeling that, if you fail, people will notice more. It’s just little things like that that can make your career more stressful or your class not as fun.”

“This is why we are going around schools to speak to 12 to 15 year old girls – as this is when they must decide their future by making their subject choices – to encourage them with our success stories and how happy we are.”

FemEng seek to drive out the existing misconception that engineering only means manual labour on a construction site or shipyard, when in fact the field is so diverse that it can involve anything from designing innovative new technology to developing and testing aircraft. Engineering is very much a career focused degree, and statistics have shown that engineering students are second only to medics in securing full-time jobs and earning good salaries.

FemEng teams up with Rwanda

This year, FemEng is going international. Last week eight of the girls, including Ellen, travelled to Rwanda, where they will be living and working for three weeks in the country’s capital, Kigali, to deliver workshops for local primary and secondary school girls that will hopefully encourage the pupils to think of engineering as a realistic career option.

Rwanda is a country that stands out as having similar goals for workplace diversity. Women currently make up 64% of their parliament[i], and they are the second most active country in the UN’s HeForShe equality campaign, behind the United States. FemEng’s project even got the stamp of approval from Rwanda’s Minister of Education, who is “really excited” about their plans.

Speaking about FemEng’s plans for the project, Simmons says, “The country has very interesting gender dynamics. It’s very much a collaborative effort. We will be working with a team of eight female engineering and architecture students over there as well as an additional team of eight girls from different schools around Kigali, and we’re hoping they are going to be pioneers for when we leave.”

“However, this project isn’t intended to be one where we go all the way to Rwanda and then we come home and forget all about it, this is the inaugural year of what we’re planning on being a five year project at least.”

“At the same time, I don’t want to still be advocating for STEM diversity 10 years from now – because, really, the problem should have been fixed by then.”

  • Ellen Simmons and Jess Níc Shuibhne of FemEng visit Star Refrigeration engineers in Glasgow

A career in engineering? “I would do it for free”

Another girl participating in this pioneering project is Jess Níc Shuibhne, who has just completed her degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Glasgow. When asked what she would say to young girls to inspire them to take up engineering, Jess reflected on her own love of the craft: “I would do it for free.”

“Going on to study engineering at university really hammered home that I picked the right thing, as it is so unbelievably interesting. I could not have spent four years – or, actually, the rest of my life – having studied anything else.”

Jess went on to comment that the reason most of the girls in her class went on to do engineering was because ‘they had always been very determined to do it anyway.’

“One day, I would like it to come as just a natural career option for girls, as it has always done for boys.”

Supporting Women in Engineering

The girls’ project has won a lot of support from organisations eager to make ‘women in engineering’ a reality. Within a few months, the team has received sponsorship from Star Refrigeration, the Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (IESIS), Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow, UoG Chancellor’s Fund, UoG School of Engineering, CH2M, and Western Ferries, as well as the donation of a 3D printer from University College Dublin.

If you would also like to contribute, visit FemEng’s GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/femengrwanda.

Last week the project reached a milestone when their funding target was achieved. As their costs have now been covered, any additional monies received will help to make the experience even better, for example they will be able to provide a meal for the Rwandan students attending the workshops.

 

 

Celebrating women inventors, how they’ve changed the world, and are inspiring the next generation.

Photo Challenge:Share photos of the Cool Things That Warm Your Heart

Star Refrigeration is organising a photo challenge to highlight the many different ways in which refrigeration and heating have enhanced our lives, from the obvious to the obscure.

 The campaign aims to work on “branding” and the image that the world has of the cooling and heating sector in order to change perceptions amongst children, especially girls, by showing them how diverse and creative engineering roles can be.

 The shortage of engineers is in part attributed to a lack of understanding about what the industry entails in children as young as 11 to 15, since they can rule themselves out of a future career in engineering just by the subject choices they make then. Most youngsters and indeed their parents and teachers are not conscious about the fact that refrigeration enhances their everyday lives, serving industries that are vital to our way of life and critical to the sustainability of the planet; that alone shows the endless possibilities – food, beer, the internet, leisure centres and medicines could not exist without it.

 Can you inspire the younger generation to help someone’s life or change the world through a career in refrigeration and heating?

 

Contest rules:

To enter the challenge, share your photos or short videos via Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #CoolCareers by 6 October 2016. 

Show us what refrigeration means to you including the cool people, places and moments that warm your heart as a tribute to the industry. Be as creative as you like.

Winners: The winner will receive an iWatch. The winner will be selected by a judging panel from Star Refrigeration.

 

References

[i] Women’s Engineering Society: Useful Statistics – Revised March 2016: http://www.wes.org.uk/statistics

[iii] Vince Cable says UK economy hampered by lack of female engineers, The Guardian, 4 November 2013: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/04/vince-cable-uk-economy-female-engineers

[v] Talent 2030 Dashboard, National Centre for Universities and Business, 2015: http://www.ncub.co.uk/reports/talent-2030-dashboard-2015.html

[vi] Women in STEM – Statistics and Facts 2015, IET: https://communities.theiet.org/files/8042

[vii] Quote from ‘Shortage of female engineers is a threat to the UK, says industry chief’, The Telegraph, 4 December 2015: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/12032072/Shortage-of-female-engineers-is-a-threat-to-the-UK-says-industry-chief.html

[viii] Women considered better coders – but only if they hide their gender, The Guardian, 12 February 2016: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/12/women-considered-better-coders-hide-gender-github

[ix] New group to help companies recruit and retain more women engineers and scientists, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 9 March 2015: http://www.theiet.org/policy/media/press-releases/20150309.cfm

[x] Women in ACR, ACR Journal: http://www.acrjournal.uk/features/category/women-in-acr

[i] Why diversity matters, McKinsey & Company, January 2015: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

[i] Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%), data from The World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS

Related Case Studies

  • BSkyB


    Star Refrigeration has completed the installation of its revolutionary Indigochiller cooling system at BSkyB’s headquarters in London.

    BSkyB is a leading broadcaster of sports, movies, entertainment and news. The company operates the UK’s largest digital pay television platform from its headquarters at Grant Way in Isleworth. Cooling solutions specialist Star has installed a range of Indigochillers to provide chilled water for air conditioning and computer server cooling in two studio buildings on the BSkyB site. 

    Three state-of-the-art Indigochillers were installed to replace existing package chillers located in a compound between the Sky Sports and Sky News buildings. Star combined two existing independent chilled water circuits serving both buildings into a common system, boosting operating efficiency. 

    The Indigochillers provide chilled water, which is then pumped through insulated pipework to wall or ceiling mounted air handling units (AHUs). Air is circulated across the chilled water coil in each AHU to provide cooling throughout both BSkyB buildings. Broadcast facilities within the two buildings include TV studios, production suites, general offices and computer server rooms.

    A carefully phased four week installation programme ensured no disruption to broadcast operations. Temporary chillers were installed to provide supplementary cooling whilst the existing chillers were removed to make way for the new Indigochillers. 

    Star’s Indigochiller was developed in direct response to proposed F-Gas regulations. The unit’s unique design aims to eliminate refrigerant leakage and have minimal effect on the global environment. 

    All components are selected to minimise the risk of refrigerant leakage. Each unit features a welded plate and shell heat exchanger, sealed expansion valve and welded steel pipework. Leak detection requirements have been reduced to a few simple checks.

    Each Indigochiller features the revolutionary oil-free Turbocor centrifugal compressor, designed to offer reliable operation and low maintenance. The compressor operates on electromagnetic bearings and uses the synthetic refrigerant R134a. This ensures minimal vibration and noise, even when running at very high speed.

    The high efficiency, low noise Indigochiller range is ideal for medium to large-scale applications, with capacities ranging from 250kW up to 1,500kW. It features a robust PLC control system to monitor running conditions and optimise efficiency. Additional options include remote access and email alerts via a built-in modem, as well as a direct link to Star’s 24/7 call out facility. The air-cooled unit is available in two noise ranges: Standard (57 dB(A) to 61 dB(A) @ 10m) and Residential (50 dB(A) to 53 dB(A) @ 10m).

    Star’s research shows the Indigochiller uses only 60% of the energy required by a standard chiller operating on typical load and ambient profiles. This offers end users a significant saving in energy and running costs.

    Following on from the success at Isleworth, two further IA500 units have been installed at the same site and a further three have been installed at BSkyB’s offices in Dunfermline.  


  • Indigochiller for Air Conditioning


    Forward thinking operators looking for high efficiency, low maintenance air conditioning should only consider a chiller that is built to last, says cooling expert Star Refrigeration.

    Star is renowned for designing cooling solutions that provide over 20 years service. The company is currently seeing a rising number of replacement projects in which standard AC chillers have suffered early component failure or corrosion problems in less than ten years.

    Star believes that environmentally conscious building services operators should consider the chiller’s expected lifespan as a matter of priority, or be faced with a costly problem all too soon.

    Star Refrigeration sales director Rob Lamb says: “We have recently seen a number of high profile operators who have previously invested in chillers that have soon become damaged or corroded. Even if the chiller features high efficiency components, poor build quality can cause early loss of performance or even break down.”

    With growing demand to cut refrigerant leakage to meet F-Gas regulations, Star developed its Indigochiller for medium to large scale air conditioning and process cooling. Engineered to have minimal effect on the global environment, Indigochiller’s robust design aims to eliminate refrigerant leakage and offer over 20 years service.

    Star’s confidence in Indigochiller’s construction and reliability means options are available for extended warranty on both equipment and refrigerant loss.

    Rob Lamb adds: “Indigochiller stands out from the rest of the market thanks to a range of unique design features and leak-tight components. It is manufactured to ensure both long-term reliability and low life-cycle costs. These should be key considerations when selecting a chiller.”

    The low charge, high performance Indigochiller features a revolutionary Turbocor compressor, which is low maintenance by design to ensure lifelong trouble free running. The oil-free compressor operates on electromagnetic bearings and uses the synthetic refrigerant R134a. The system offers reliable performance and requires minimal installation, servicing and maintenance.

    Indigochiller is manufactured from the highest quality components selected to minimise the risk of refrigerant leakage, reduce maintenance costs and enhance operating life. Standard features include ‘leak-free’ bellows seal valves, sealed expansion valves and welded steel pipework. The air-cooled Indigochiller has epoxy coated condenser fins as standard to reduce the risk of corrosion damage.

    Available as an air-cooled or water-cooled unit, Indigochiller has capacity options ranging from 250kW to 1,650kW. A robust PLC control system allows the user to monitor refrigerant charge, running conditions and optimise efficiency.

    Indigochiller is highly energy efficient using only 60% of the energy required by a standard chiller operating on typical load and ambient profiles. This offers end users a significant saving in energy and running costs.

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

    Star provides total cooling solutions for refrigeration, air conditioning and process cooling. The company offers a turnkey supply and support package to all users of cooling equipment. Star continues to invest in the development of new products to provide energy conscious cooling systems for the benefit of customers and the environment.


  • International Maritime Organisation


    The International Maritime Organisation building in Lambeth is headquarters to a world-renowned institution, and is the venue for many major global conferences. With the phase out of CFCs reaching its conclusion, it was necessary to replace the old R-11 chillers which provided cooling to the offices and conference suite. In making this change the efficiency of the new chillers was a key factor, because R-11 used as a refrigerant makes for an extremely efficient system. In addition, the air handling units on the building were configured to provide free cooling to the chilled water circuit in low ambient conditions. The chiller replacement project was also required to follow the Government’s policy of avoiding fluorocarbon refrigerants unless necessary. As stated in the DETR report Climate Change: The UK Programme: "HFCs should only be used where other safe, technically feasible, cost effective and more environmentally acceptable alternatives do not exist."

    Consequently, a system using ammonia as the refrigerant was specified. After careful analysis of the building and the surroundings, it was concluded that the most suitable solution was to place two chillers in an acoustic housing on the roof of the offices, close-coupled to two evaporative condensers.     

    To keep the ammonia charge to a minimum and to enable the chiller to fit within the reduced headroom space below the condensers, each unit is equipped with a low pressure receiver and plate heat exchanger. The advantages of using a low pressure receiver are:

    • The charge of ammonia is reduced, the receiver vessel normally runs empty. 
    • The full surface of the heat exchanger is used, so it runs efficiently.
    • The refrigerant flow is not dependent on height difference, as it would be in a gravity fed design.

    The two chillers are contained within separate compartments of the housing, with a total footprint of 6.5m x 6.5m and with an overall height of 3.6m. This provides ample space for safe maintenance, while keeping the installation within the roof area previously occupied by the cooling towers.

    Each chiller has a capacity of 1400kW when chilling water from 11°C to 5.5°C, with an evaporating temperature of 3.3°C on full load. To maximize efficiency the chillers are piped in series, giving a CoP on the lead unit of 6.52 and on the lag of 5.88 at design ambient conditions. The units are also configured to make best possible use of floating head pressure – a further advantage of the low pressure receiver system. Despite the series arrangement, the chillers are selected to give low pressure drop on the water side, and the total pressure difference across the units is less than 0.5 Bar. The evaporative condensers use two speed fan motors so that power consumption can be reduced to a quarter of the design load when the duty or the ambient are sufficiently low. With these features the annualised coefficient of performance was expected to be about 10, as a result of the improved efficiency achieved through allowing reduced head pressure operation.

    The amount of time allowed for the site installation was to be kept to a minimum, due to the existing conference commitments booked by the IMO. In particular, a major international conference was due to take place on site in April, so it was imperative that all work was complete and the plant was in first class condition for this date. The units were delivered with as much pre-assembly as possible, and lifted into place on the roof in the first week of January 2002. The condenser support steels and the housings were then constructed around the chillers. The condensers were lifted into place mid February and the piping and wiring were then completed. Ammonia was charged to the units at the end of March and they were handed over, fully tested, on 10 April 2002.

    Since installation, the plant has run reliably and efficiently throughout the summers of 2002 and 2003. Data monitored by the building manager indicates that the power consumption of the ammonia chillers is significantly less than his previous system.

    The apparent risk with this approach is the use of ammonia in a heavily occupied building within a city center. In fact, this risk was minimised:

    • By locating the plant on the roof
    • By minimising the charge
    • By restricting access to the roof area
    • By ensuring that ammonia could only be released to atmosphere in a controlled manner.

    There is no significant volume of liquid outside the housing, as the high-pressure float control system automatically transfers the condensed liquid to the low pressure receiver. This means that in the event of an ammonia liquid leak, the liquid will be contained within the housing and only transferred to atmosphere in a controlled manner over a period of time. The housing is also equipped with ammonia detection equipment, so that, in the event of a leak, an alarm signal can be provided to ensure a quick and appropriate response.

    The hazard analysis conducted for the installation concluded that, with reasonable control measures in place, the only significant hazard for the installation was the risk of injury to bystanders in the event of a leak during maintenance. For this reason, the roof area in the vicinity of the chillers is administered as a "permit to work" zone.

    Although the capital costs of the chillers is high compared with standard chillers, the integrated roof top solution minimised the additional infrastructure cost so the overall project was not significantly more expensive than the building refurbishment would otherwise have been, even if standard chillers had been selected. For this building, the chillers are estimated to be over 30% more efficient than the previous installation. The project has already exceeded the expectations of the project management team who have subsequently applied similar thinking to another London refurbishment for the same client, and would very much like to do more in future.


  • Investment Bank, London


    Star Refrigeration has supplied a bespoke plant for HVAC cooling at the London offices of a global investment bank. 

    The existing refrigeration plant at the firm’s client administration centre in the City’s Square Mile was due for replacement. The plant operated on R22, an ozone-depleting HCFC refrigerant currently being phased out by EU regulations.

    Working alongside a leading building services consultancy, Star designed a new low maintenance cooling plant to improve efficiency, reduce noise and ensure the highest reliability for the building’s heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.

    The challenging aspect to the project was retaining five air handling units (AHUs) which form part of the fabric of the building. The cooling coils in these AHUs were supplied directly with R22 refrigerant.

    A detailed study was carried out into the possible use of chilled water cooling coils to remove the use of direct refrigerant. The investigation concluded that the AHUs would have to be replaced to accommodate chilled water, so a similar solution using a non ozone-depleting refrigerant was necessary.

    A world leader in cooling and heating system innovation, Star determined that a specialist flooded evaporator design was required that enabled the existing AHUs to be retained and ensured no loss of cooling capacity. Star developed a flooded evaporator coil design that could be retrofitted to the existing AHUs. This was achieved using Star’s patented Low Pressure Receiver (LPR) system design.

    Star designed, built, installed and commissioned a bespoke air cooled LPR refrigeration plant comprising four 600kW chillers operating on synthetic refrigerant R134a. The system features revolutionary Turbocor oil-free compressors to provide high efficiency, reliability and low noise operation. 

    Star’s specialist contracting team installed new R134a AHU evaporator coils in a phased installation programme to ensure adequate cooling was maintained within the building. The new cooling plant is located on the roof of the building and was designed to fit within the footprint of the previous refrigeration system.

    The project was completed within six months from order to commissioning. It was vital that there was no adverse affect on the investment bank’s business activity or interruption to HVAC supply during this period, and this was achieved. 

    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.


  • John Lewis


    Star Refrigeration has installed a high efficiency cooling system at the flagship John Lewis department store in central London.

    The state-of-the-art Indigochiller system forms part of an ongoing refurbishment by the leading UK retailer at its Oxford Street store. Project Beacon aims to futureproof the 50-year-old building and provide a platform for further development by the John Lewis Partnership. 

    Cooling solutions specialist Star has completed the installation of three Indigochillers on the sixth floor roof, each with a 1,000kW capacity. The air-cooled units circulate chilled water for air conditioning, providing comfort cooling throughout the building.

    The John Lewis Partnership was looking to improve the instore environment for shoppers and staff by installing a larger capacity high efficiency cooling system. It was vital that the comfort cooling system allowed year round temperature control, particularly during summer months. As well as an environmentally conscious design, low starting current, quiet operation and minimal maintenance were key requirements.

    John Lewis Partnership Development Engineer Stuart Watson says: "Star’s new roof-mounted Indigochillers are more efficient and will allow us to increase cooling capacity with no increase in electrical demand. They form part of a heating and cooling efficiency drive that will allow John Lewis to meet energy reduction targets and reduce its carbon footprint."

    Star’s Indigochiller was developed in direct response to proposed F-Gas regulations, which aim to limit fluorinated gas emissions. The unit’s unique design aims to eliminate refrigerant leakage and have minimal effect on the global environment. Star’s research shows the Indigochiller uses only 60% of the energy required by a standard chiller operating on typical load and ambient profiles. This offers end users a significant saving in energy and running costs.

    As well as Star’s new cooling system, additional work on infrastructure at the John Lewis Oxford Street store includes the installation of more efficient boilers, cabling and an electricity substation. Project Beacon also includes new retail departments, restaurant facilities and escalator banks to improve access and open up the building.

    Work on the overall 18-month refurbishment project is due to be completed in Autumn 2007, with trading continuing throughout. It is currently the largest retail project within an operating store in Europe.

    Star’s Indigochiller is a complete refrigeration package housed in one unit. Typical applications include new and retrofit air conditioning systems in the building services and process cooling industries. Ideal for medium to largescale applications, unit capacities range from 250kW up to 1,500kW. 

    Each Indigochiller features the revolutionary oil-free Turbocor centrifugal compressor, designed to offer reliable operation and low maintenance. The compressor operates on electromagnetic bearings and uses the synthetic refrigerant R134a. This ensures minimal vibration and noise, even when running at very high speed. The air-cooled unit is available in two noise ranges: Standard and Residential.

    All Indigochiller components are selected to minimise the risk of refrigerant leakage. Each unit features a welded plate and shell heat exchanger, sealed expansion valve and welded steel pipework. Leak detection requirements have been reduced to a few simple checks.

    The Indigochiller features a robust PLC control system to monitor running conditions and optimise efficiency. Additional options include remote access and email alerts via a built-in modem, as well as a direct link to Star’s 24/7 call out facility.


  • Refrigerant R-1234ze(E)


    Engineers at Star Refrigeration have teamed up with Danfoss Turbocor and Honeywell to develop and test a chiller using HFO 1234ze(E) refrigerant, which has a global warming potential of 7. 

    The chiller is based on Star’s very successful Indigochiller range and uses the new Turbocor TG310 prototype compressor.

    "Working with R-1234ze proved to be quite challenging," said Star’s Group Engineering Director, Dr. Andy Pearson. "We found particularly good performance at part load in lower ambient, where the efficiency was up to 20% better than the original predictions. Across the full range of load and ambient conditions performance was generally better than predicted."

    He added: "The development included some tricky puzzles. Some of the materials used in joints and seals did not perform well so we had to source special o-rings for some of the system components. We also learned that the lower gas density can cause increased pressure losses in some unexpected places, so care needs to be taken when assessing condensers, evaporators and control valves to make sure they are not going to cause excess pressure drop which would negatively affect the chiller efficiency."

    Star worked with Danfoss Turbocor to select R-1234ze(E) as the most promising fluid for this application and then in a three-way development team with Honeywell, who developed Solstice ze (R-1234ze)  for use as a refrigerant, foam-blowing agent and other applications.

    The chiller was comprehensively tested at Star’s chiller factory in Glasgow, including operating in an ambient of 40oC on Star’s 1500kW test rig. Turbocor worked closely with Star during the testing and were able to verify and adjust their control software while the compressor was in operation. This was the first time that Danfoss Turbocor had access to the prototype compressor on a live air-cooled chiller to verify their theoretical calculations and lab tests. The adjustments helped to raise the efficiency of the chiller by a few percentage points.

    Now that the tests are complete, the chiller has gone to its spiritual home – on the Honeywell site at Buffalo, NY where the HFO-1234ze(E) refrigerant was originally developed. The chiller will operate on the base load for the lab air-conditioning system, helping to keep the developers of the next generation of refrigerants comfortable at their work.

    Dr. Rob Lamb, Group Sales Director at Star, said: "This development is part of our long range plan. It allows us to give our customers confidence that we can help them transition to low GWP refrigerants moving forward. As the European F-Gas regulations develop, Star Refrigeration will be prepared to offer our customers a variety of refrigerant solutions."


  • Sky Studios, Isleworth


    BSkyB’s brand new sustainable landmark broadcast facility features a revolutionary air conditioning system from cooling and heating specialist Star Refrigeration.

    BSkyB is a leading broadcaster of sports, movies, entertainment and news. The company operates the UK’s largest digital pay TV platform from its headquarters in Isleworth, London.

    Star has supplied five of its state-of-the-art Indigochiller refrigeration plants to provide cooling within Sky’s new Sky Studios building. The ground-breaking facility will provide TV studios, technical and post production space for Sky.

    Five air-cooled Indigochiller units, each with a 1MW cooling capacity have been installed on the roof of the new building. Each Indigochiller provides chilled water, which is then pumped through insulated pipework to air handling units (AHUs). These AHUs will provide comfort cooling throughout the Sky Studios building, as well as some computer server cooling.

    Star Refrigeration Sales Manager Michael Reeve says: “A ground-breaking building such as Sky Studios required a state-of-the-art chilling system. Our Indigochillers have a strong track record at BSkyB, with the first installed at Isleworth over six years ago. They have proven efficiency benefits, are low maintenance by design and highly durable.”

    Star has worked in partnership with BSkyB on multiple building cooling projects since 2005 and has installed 36 Indigochiller units to date. Indigochillers are providing a total 18.85MW of cooling across fifteen BSkyB buildings, from Southampton to Livingston.

    Star’s energy efficient Indigochillers are just part of BSkyB’s efforts to ensure Sky Studios helps to reduce carbon footprint, minimise environmental impact and assist renewable energy generation at the Isleworth site.

    Designed for large-scale air conditioning and process cooling, Star’s Indigochiller is manufactured to ensure maximum efficiency, longterm reliability and low life-cycle costs. Each Indigochiller now comes with a three-year ‘no quibble’ guarantee covering component reliability, efficient performance and leak-tight operation.

    Engineered to have minimal effect on the global environment, Star’s Indigochiller has a robust design that aims to eliminate refrigerant leakage and offer over 20 years service.

    The low charge, high performance Indigochiller features a revolutionary Turbocor compressor, which is low maintenance by design to ensure lifelong trouble-free running. The oil-free compressor operates on electromagnetic bearings and uses the synthetic refrigerant R134a. The system offers reliable performance and requires minimal installation, servicing and maintenance.

    Indigochiller is manufactured from the highest quality components selected to minimise the risk of refrigerant leakage, reduce maintenance costs and enhance operating life. Standard features include ‘leak-free’ bellows seal valves, sealed expansion valves and welded steel pipework. The air-cooled Indigochiller has epoxy coated condenser fins as standard to reduce the risk of corrosion damage.

    Available as an air-cooled or water-cooled unit, Indigochiller has capacity options ranging from 250kW to 1,650kW. A robust PLC control system allows the user to monitor refrigerant charge, running conditions and optimise efficiency. Indigochiller is highly energy efficient using only 60% of the energy required by a standard chiller operating on typical load and ambient profiles. This offers end users a significant saving in energy and running costs.

    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.