January 19, 2023
What is Cold Storage & How Does It Work? (Part 1)
Cold storage is a temperature-controlled facility used to store perishable goods such as fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables, which would otherwise go bad if kept under normal temperatures. Some chemicals and pharmaceutical products like vaccines are also stored in cold storage to increase their lifespans.
Cold storage facilities are constructed and equipped to provide specific temperature and humidity levels for the items they are meant to store. With markets becoming more diversified, cold rooms with customizable configurations are increasingly common.
Components and Functionality of a Cold Storage Facility
A cold room is typically a large refrigerator that maintains temperatures between 50°F and -22°F, depending on the stored items.
A typical cold storage facility contains:
This is the main part of the storage room. It receives the refrigerant vapor from the evaporator and raises its temperature and pressure. The increase in pressure results in a proportional rise in boiling point, which allows the compressor to condense the vapor at the defined temperature. Vapor compression is energy-intensive. That’s why compressors take up most of the energy that goes into the cold room.
This is basically the heat sink of the cold storage room. Condensers are integrated with tubes or fans, or water spray, through which they disperse the heat produced by the refrigerant to the atmosphere.
For easier transmission through the receiver, the condenser has to convert the refrigerant from a gaseous state into liquid form. The efficiency rating of any cold storage plant is, in effect, derived from the efficiency of its condenser’s heat exchange process.
It receives and stores the high-pressure liquid condensate produced by the condenser and releases it to the expansion valve when needed.
Receivers are key parts of any cold storage system, as they allow the plants to store material they don’t need (condensate), leaving space for materials they may need, such as additional cool air.
This is where the liquid refrigerant goes once the receiver releases it. The valve helps to control the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant. The temperature reduction is achieved through a throttling device that uses friction forces.
The expansion valve also manages the amount of refrigerant going into the next component in the chain - the Evaporator.
The evaporator is essentially the part that lowers the temperatures of the stored items. It sucks in heat from the atmosphere or the storage compartment that needs to be cooled. It then uses the heat to convert the refrigerant to vapor, which then passes through a series of tubes throughout the compartment.
These work to blow the cooled refrigerant across the storage compartment to achieve the desired temperature.
In summary, the cooling process in a cold storage facility starts in the compressor. There, the refrigerant has its pressure and temperature increased, which also increases its boiling point. It is then passed to the condenser, which converts it to liquid and sends it to the storage reservoir, which is moved to an expansion valve.
The expansion valve reduces the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant, which is in a liquid state at this point. From the valve, the liquid refrigerant moves to the evaporator, where it is converted back into a cool gas using atmospheric heat. The gas is then circulated by blowers, causing a cooling effect.
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