Freezing and Chilling - Market Sectors - Star Refrigeration

Freezing and Chilling

Star offers a range of freezing and chilling solutions to meet customer's specific requirements. Our group business, Starfrost, design and manufacture industrial inline cooling equipment including spiral freezers/chillers, IQF freezers, contact freezers and carton freezers. We can also provide solutions for blast freezing/chilling and plate freezing. In all cases, we offer industrial refrigeration equipment to meet the required cooling duty with a choice of refrigerants, including ammonia and carbon dioxide. This includes our low charge ammonia Glacier range, which has been designed for spiral and blast freezing applications.

Our experience covers a wide range of applications and products, including ready meals, meat processing, seafood, bakery, and vegetable cooling.


Rob Lamb

Group Sales & Marketing Director


Rob Long

Sales Director

Related Case Studies

  • James T Blakeman & Co expand production capacity with new spiral freezer system

    Star Refrigeration and its group business, Starfrost have successfully worked in collaboration to install a new Helix Spiral freezer at James T Blakeman’s Millennium Way production facility in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Star delivered a cost-effective, energy-efficient and future proof turnkey refrigeration solution to an extremely tight deadline and within budget.

    James T Blakeman Group is a leading manufacturer of sausage and meat products, distributing 20,000 tonnes of products per year to clients both in the UK and internationally. Enjoying an annual turnover of £39 million, James T Blakeman & Co have built up an excellent reputation for consistently-high quality products over six decades in the industry.

    An imminent increase in product demand meant that James T Blakeman required a new spiral freezer unit and accompanying refrigeration system in order to facilitate an extension of their production capacity.

    The project presented a number of challenges. Firstly, the new freezer installation was only one part of a wider upgrade to the entire facility. Secondly, with Christmas on the horizon and new orders to fulfil, James T Blakeman & Co specified that the cooling equipment need to be installed, commissioned and ready to use within 18 weeks. The manufacturer of the famous ‘Supreme Sausage’ also required production to be operational for 20 hours per day, leaving only a four-hour window for defrosting the freezer to ensure its coil are kept clear from ice build-up. Finally, there wasn’t enough water onsite to allow water defrosting.

    The customer’s strong commitment to health and safety determined that Star were to provide onsite support through the secondment of Leeds branch project manager, Luke Walsh, who was based at the Millennium Way site for the duration of the works in order to ensure successful completion of the project.

    Spiral freezer connected to R449A refrigeration system

    Star designed a bespoke solution that used all of their industry experience to deliver the best viable refrigeration solution for the customer. Benefiting from Starfrost’s niche expertise in freezing and chilling for the global food processing sector, Star provided a 50kW Helix Spiral freezer and refrigeration solution. The combined technology is capable of meeting James T Blakeman & Co’s specifications of variable freezing between 100C and -180C with a retention time of 30 minutes, allowing for optimum flexibility. The system uses refrigerant R449A which has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1,397 – well below the upper legal threshold of 2,500- and offers a cost effective, efficient and low GWP alternative that will ensure the plant remains operational for many years to come.

    Variable speed EC condenser fans were selected to reduce energy consumption during periods of lower ambient temperatures and to ensure smoother and more stable plant control. The plant also incorporates electronic expansion valves (EEVs) in order to allow the condenser pressure to vary and guarantee optimised performance all year round. To overcome the defrost challenge, Star used their  patented four-way valve technology to deliver a reverse cycle defrost, ensuring that the system would be operational for 20 hours a day.

    Philip Blakeman, Director of James T Blakeman & Co, said, “We were impressed with the quality of the service Star could provide. Their ability to offer a competitive turnkey solution which covered all the bases, alongside the onsite expertise of Luke, gave us peace of mind and allow us to continue to focus on our business operations”.

    As the project progressed, Star’s Manchester branch undertook additional responsibility for the supply, installation and commissioning of two new refrigeration systems at the production hall and loading dock areas within the factory extension. Star also assumed the role of principle contractor and designer to provide a new dehumidification system for the coldstore roof void to tackle the build up of moisture found on the insulated panels.

    Brian Littleton, Head of Projects at James T Blakeman & Co, said, “From their initial advice and expertise in designing a completely brand-new system, to the rapid installation and capability to take on additional work to ensure the project was successfully delivered, Star Refrigeration have provided an excellent service.

    “The team at Star have once again demonstrated their ability to go above and beyond our expectations and will now be helping us with the transition of all our existing R404A systems to a more environmentally-friendly alternative as well as taking on the maintenance contract for our site.”


  • The Ice Co Storage & Logistics

    Star Technical Solutions have successfully introduced their ground breaking Ethos system into the Wakefield cold storage facility of The Ice Co Storage & Logistics to monitor, measure and analyse the performance of their refrigeration plant.

    Using their refrigeration expertise, Star Technical Solutions have developed Ethos, a performance optimisation and energy management service for refrigeration equipment, to allow companies like The Ice Co Storage & Logistics to understand the energy consumption of different sections of their plant, alter plant settings to optimise that consumption and look out for, and anticipate, plant maintenance issues.

    As part of the J Marr group of companies, The Ice Co Storage & Logistics is the leading manufacturer of quality ice and water products, temperature controlled storage and distribution, with brands that are internationally recognised as the product of choice.

    Malcolm Dufton, The Ice Co Group Property and Energy Director said “We knew there were savings to be had but Ethos has allowed us to identify where those savings could be made and how. The result over £100,000 saving per annum on electricity, so now we are going to incorporate more plant into the network and roll out the program to our other plants and cold stores.”

    Working on their knowledge of the plant gained from a maintenance agreement, Star were able to identify how best to deploy Ethos to deal with the most wasteful plant first which resulted in an energy consumption reduction of 33% and a consequent drop in emissions of 310 tonnes of CO2 per year. With The Ice Co they identified key areas where Ethos could improve their existing set up:

    • Better information regarding performance and efficiency

    • Improved operation of the whole plant to enable maximum energy savings

    • Alerts when the system detects irregular patterns of behaviour of equipment and improved visibility of operating parameters.  

    The installation of Ethos consisted of a number of sensors connected to a central Ethos panel. The use of duplicate sensors minimised disruption to the existing operation as well as ensuring correct calibration and accuracy of the collected data. The panel incorporates a programmable logic controller (PLC), which relays the data collected to an SQL server. There is 4G connectivity built into the unit, and therefore there is no requirement for the system to be connected to the existing IT network. In turn, this reduces the workload involved in the installation.

    The information collected by the Ethos monitoring system is accessible in seconds via a comprehensive online dashboard, which can be viewed at any time and from anywhere on a smartphone, tablet or computer. This data visibility allowed The Ice Co Storage & Logistics access to an overview of their plant’s performance and to make energy-related savings in two distinct ways:

    1) Targeted maintenance and simple control changes. The new system quickly identified that changes to condenser fan sequencing, condenser fan control, low-stage compressor sequencing and system purging would contribute to a cumulative energy saving of around 14%. The actions required to enact these changes were minimal or no cost.

    2) Capital investment. Ethos was also capable of identifying areas where equipment upgrades or replacements could improve performance, thus justifying capital investment in new or existing technologies. For example, the compressor health check determined that the isentropic efficiency of one of the compressors was very low. Ethos was able to calculate that by replacing the compressor there would be an additional annual saving of around 24%.

    From an operational perspective Ethos has been a valuable addition to The Ice Co Storage & Logistics’ operations toolkit. The client has now continuous access to view the plant’s operating parameters through the Ethos dashboard on a web portal. Operations regularly log in to the online portal to assess the plant conditions from their laptop or phone. In this way, the customer is notified by Monday morning emails of irregular plant behaviour and take pre-emptive steps to address potential issues before they can effect a plant failure.

    Ethos has the unique ability to assess not just how well the plant is currently performing, but can also map those parameters against how it should ideally be operating and quantifies the gap between the two in intelligible terms. It is also capable of providing actionable insights into how that gap can be decreased, thus achieving practical optimisation and maximising efficiency. Able to adapt to the constantly changing parameters of a dynamic refrigeration environment, Ethos is adept at assessing system efficiency, regardless of how conditions and load may vary from day to day. In recognition of these capabilities, Ethos was recently awarded 2018 Refrigeration Product of the Year.

    Since the system’s installation, Star have established an even closer partnership with The Ice Co, securing a national maintenance contract across its ice manufacturing as well as its cold storage businesses, rolling out Ethos across all of the company’s facilities.

    Star’s continual support in identifying and delivering the solutions that are best for their customers has led to the development of a trustworthy partnership which is the key to helping The Ice Co Storage and Logistics fulfil its logistically complex obligations to its customers nationwide.



  • Asda Rochdale PPM

    Asda’s distribution centre in Rochdale works with its local Star Refrigeration branch in Manchester to maintain its refrigeration plant in the most efficient way possible. Star Refrigeration has a national maintenance contract with ASDA, working in partnership with the customer to provide a preventative maintenance plan and ensure any faults are dealt with promptly and safely when these unexpectedly occur. At this particular site, palletised goods are broken down and delivered to individual stores, and the temperature needs to be controlled and maintained throughout the operation.

    The client requires 24/7 cover of its refrigeration plant including remote monitoring and planned preventative maintenance (PPM) visits. Star keeps the plant safe and legal, with services including Written Schemes of Examination, calibration of the ammonia detection system and other sub contract works managed by Star. Working alongside Star the retailer has strict contingency planning procedures in place to ensure a rapid response in the event of a mechanical failure, supported by a qualified team of engineers from Star’s local branch. Generally, major faults are uncommon in large, complex industrial plants which are regularly serviced and maintained. However, end users need to be well prepared in advance, should the unthinkable happen, to minimise and, where possible, avoid any losses.

    When an ammonia leak occurred overnight at the Rochdale site, ASDA and Star Refrigeration worked together to assess the situation and get the plant up and running again as soon as possible.

    Via the monitoring Hub at Star’s headquarters in Glasgow standby engineers at the Manchester branch were notified of a ‘low stage drum high level’ and attended site to address the situation. The low stage surge drum was full of refrigerant and had carried over to the compressors. One of the low temperature (LT) compressors had developed an ammonia leak, and the compressor had to be isolated from the ammonia system – however the concentration of ammonia in the plant room was too high to allow safe entry.

    Star Refrigeration’s engineers followed the company’s specified action plan to drop the ammonia  concentration in the plantroom including activation of local ventilation fans, and deployment of additional extract fans and ducting to ensure there were no ammonia levels above 25ppm.

    Once the plant room was safe to enter, a plan was put in place to transfer liquid between the surge drums and fit a replacement valve. There were three Star Refrigeration engineers on site in addition to the customer’s, working as a team to get the plant back up and running. The cold store plant was out of action for 11 hours in total.

    Colin Taylor, SHE Manager at the ASDA site said, “What really impressed us about Star was the way our emergency was handled. The plant tripped out at 9 pm, and with two senior engineers and a manager attending and working through the night, the cold store was working again on by at 8.30 am the next day.”

    “We have access to local trained and experienced engineers who have procedures in place for such an incident. It’s great that we have a branch local to our site and a second branch less than 50 miles away to assist if needed. Star offers a local team with the added benefit of a robust national infrastructure”.

    Dave Brown, senior maintenance engineer at Star Refrigeration- Manchester- said, “Working in partnership with the customer and planning for such events including devising safe systems of work for contingency situations such as this, which could occur at any plant, was dealt with promptly, safely and with minimum disruption to their business operation.


    Both companies have enjoyed a strong business partnership for the last decade and ASDA remains a key customer of Star Refrigeration. “It is the intention that we will continue to explore ways to maintain the successful relationship with Star Refrigeration in the future for the benefit of our respective customers, businesses, shareholders and other stakeholders”, said Taylor


  • Lunar Freezing

    Lunar Freezing and Star Refrigeration have worked together for over 25 years to develop effective and efficient Blast Freezing and Cold Storage solutions.

    Based in the fishing ports of Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen, Lunar Freezing and Lunar Fishing are in a commanding position to supply herring, mackerel and whitefish products from catching to freezing to cold storage to final delivery worldwide.

    The Lunar facilities at Peterhead and Fraserburgh mainly process the pelagic fish species Herring, Mackerel and Blue Whiting. Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of the ocean being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore. The fishing is seasonal due to the fish migratory movements and the fishery management catching season and quotas. 

    A world leader in cooling and heating system innovation, Star worked with the Lunar team to design high performance blast freezing solutions for both facilities.

    Star engineered and modified the existing pumped circulation ammonia systems for Lunar installing 3 new and 2 remodelled Blast Freezers at Peterhead and 4 new Blast Freezers at Fraserburgh for freezing fish packed in cardboard boxes.

    Operational since Autumn 2015, the new freezers have expanded the capacity enabling Lunar to freeze over 1,000 tonnes of fish per day. Each blast chamber freezes around 64 tonnes of fish in 20 hours, the evaporators and refrigeration plants to achieve this are by necessity very large and must be carefully designed and installed.

    The Star blasts outperform existing blast freezers installed by others in Fraserburgh and the Star blasts have only 35% of the installed fan power of the competitor.

    Lunar Director Sinclair Banks said “These were challenging projects both carried out in the same short timeframe and both involved working on existing equipment.

    Star, Lunar and all the other contractors involved worked alongside each other to complete the work in time for the mackerel freezing season. The new freezers have shortened the freezing time allowing us to process the catch quicker and expand our business by supplying new customers”

    Star’s system ensures optimum plant performance, with PLC control and HMI touch screen interface with a range of built-in systems including pressure, temperature and gas detection monitoring.

    When it comes to designing and installing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator.  

  • Granville Food Care

    Star Refrigeration has designed and manufactured an efficiency boosting cooling system for Granville Food Care Ltd in Northern Ireland.

    Star installed the energy saving refrigeration plant at Granville’s meat freezing and cold storage facility in Dungannon, County Tyrone. The innovative cooling system was designed to replace an existing R22 plant and increase production to meet demand from UK retailers.

    Star’s turnkey cooling solution for Granville comprised a state-of-the-art ammonia and carbon dioxide (CO2) cascade plant. Operating on natural refrigerants, the dual purpose plant provides cooling for both blast freezing and cold storage.

    The cascade plant supplies cooling to three cold storage areas and seven blast freezers at the Granville facility. Star’s refrigeration system is one of the first in Northern Ireland to use CO2 technology for blast freezing.

    Star Refrigeration Sales Director Rob Lamb says: “The ammonia and CO2 cascade plant has allowed Granville to reduce energy consumption and gain a significant increase in throughput, by improving product freeze times by 23 per cent. The plant also has a very low ammonia charge, which is isolated to the plant room.”

    He adds: “Overall, the new refrigeration plant has enabled the client to expand business without further investment in building infrastructure.”

    The Granville plant has a total refrigeration capacity of 1,227kW. The system was designed with sufficient in-built compressor capacity to allow future expansion of the existing cold store.

    The new plant is located in a purpose built plant room adjacent to the main building. It comprises two low temperature CO2 compressors and surge drum. Supplying liquid CO2 to cold stores and blast freezers. It also features two ammonia compressors and evaporative condensers, as well as two ammonia to CO2 cascade heat exchangers.

    The Granville project included the removal of R22 refrigerant from the site. Some of the original plant was designed by Star over 25 years ago and had served the client well. Star worked closely with Granville throughout the 34-week project to ensure the project was completed on time and budget.

    Two further phases of the project are currently underway, to increase both cold storage and freezing capacity on site and these are due to complete over the next six months. When complete, Granville Food Care will have a blast freezing capacity of 300 tonnes per 15 hour cycle to add to their 100 tonne per day of defrosting capacity.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Prosper de Mulder

    Prosper de Mulder has completed the installation of an environmentally friendly and highly efficient plate freezer system. The freezers are unusual as they use carbon dioxide as the refrigerant, replacing old plant which used R22. In this application CO² is an ideal choice because it has no ozone depleting potential and will not be subject to impending “F-Gas” regulations. It is also fundamentally non-toxic and therefore is suitable for a system where the freezers are in a labour-intensive production area. Using ammonia in plate freezers is also a risk to site personnel, which is eliminated by the selection of CO². However, the greatest advantage in the use of carbon dioxide is that it enables the plant to run at lower temperatures and lower power consumption than could be achieved with R22 or ammonia. This improvement in performance results partly from greatly improved heat transfer within the plates of the freezer and partly from the reduced pressure drop in the flexible hoses and suction line from the freezer. This means that freeze times have been significantly reduced – a core temperature of –18ºC is reached in the 75mm blocks of meat in 60 minutes, compared to the time of over 2 hours which would be required in the R22 or ammonia plants.

    The plant comprises a low temperature carbon dioxide circuit of two screw compressors and a surge drum/pump set serving 16 plate freezers, each with 26 stations. The total capacity is 1000kW, capable of handling 185 tonnes of meat products per day. The high temperature circuit uses ammonia to condense the carbon dioxide, in two plate and shell heat exchangers. The ammonia system is also used to serve a cold store and some scraped surface heat exchangers, which provide a chilling option for the processing of the product. Heat is rejected from two evaporative condensers.

    Consideration was given to designing an integrated carbon dioxide system; delivering cooling not only to the plate freezers but also to the cold store and the scraped surface heat exchangers. Star had already used carbon dioxide as a refrigerant for cold store and scraped surface heat exchangers, and the results had proven very successful. However, to use carbon dioxide for the cold store would have required operating the high pressure side of the carbon dioxide system at lower conditions than was acceptable for optimised operation of the low temperature freezing plant and the client’s preferred supplier of scraped surface heat exchanger could not supply a unit suitable for operation at the pressures that would be seen with carbon dioxide.

    The main environmental benefit is the low energy consumption of this system in comparison with a more standard design. This has been achieved despite the temperature difference in the cascade heat exchanger through an integrated approach to the system design, including the use of high pressure liquid and waste heat recovery to provide hot gas for the plate freezer defrost cycle. This system means that it is not necessary to run the ammonia compressors at high head pressure in order to achieve a defrost. The nominal CoP of the freezer plant is 1.27 when running at –50ºC CO² plate evaporation and +32ºC ammonia condensation. The equivalent ammonia plant (2-stage) CoP would be 1.38, but because the CO² system can run with low head pressures in colder weather, whereas the ammonia system has to maintain head pressure to provide gas for defrosts, the CoP of the CO² plant can improve to 1.49, if the head pressure drops to 20ºC. The CO² plant configuration also allows the cold store and process load to be run from the ammonia plant; if a two stage ammonia plant was used for the freezers the additional loads would require their own plants, as the intermediate condition of the ammonia freezer plant would be too high for the cold store load.

    These power figures have been verified by site logs – but because the freezer performance is significantly better than predicted it is possible to raise the suction pressure, so that the original design freeze time of 90 minutes is maintained. The plant has not yet been run in this mode, but it is clear that the performance will be substantially better than the ammonia plant.

    One risk in entering this project was that this type of pressurised liquid defrost had not been applied to plate freezers before, However the defrosts have been quick and clean. The freezer is significantly safer than an ammonia one an less likely to rupture. A risk benefit in adopting CO² was the possibility to locate the defrost valves next to the freezers. There are two cranes traversing the freezer hall, so the common practice of raising the pipes to high level and putting the valves outside the room in the roof void was not possible.

    In comparison to the size of compressor required to run ammonia at –40ºC the CO² compressors are significantly cheaper. By running CO² at –50ºC there are also fewer plate freezers in the hall, and with narrower plate profiles for CO² each freezer station contains two more stations than could be fitted into an ammonia station. The defrost system is rather more complex than for ammonia, but this does not offset the savings made in the other areas. So, for this project the CO² system was cheaper to install and is also cheaper to run and maintain than an equivalent R22 or ammonia plant. An analysis of capital and operating costs for the CO² / NH3 cascade system assessed a 10-15% saving for the refrigeration plant and a 5% saving in energy costs.

    A cost benefit that was not realised until the plant was operational and the very fast freeze times proven, was that the clients brief, for 185 tonnes of frozen meat products per day, could have been comfortably met with four fewer plate freezers. However, as the system is designed for a future expansion of 50% more freezing capacity, the client will not be required to purchase more plate freezers to meet future growth in demand. In addition, the client presently has the ability to raise the CO² evaporating temperature and achieve significantly improved performance.

    There are significant opportunities for CO² systems like this one, not only in plate freezers but in blast freezers, spiral freezers and tunnels too. The combination of CO² with the pumped liquid defrost system would allow these other freezers to gain the benefits of more efficient running in the same way as this plate freezer installation has.

    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.