Ireland’s second largest liquid milk processing firm, Aurivo, has cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at its Killygordon site by 80% and reduced fossil fuel consumption at the facility by 80 %, thanks to a multi-million dollar upgrade.

As part of the upgrade Aurivo harnessed new liquid processing systems, state-of-the-art energy-saving and refrigeration and heat recovery solutions through heat pumps from GEA.

The Aurivo site in County Donegal annually produces and packages 120 million litres of whole milk, skimmed and low-fat drinking milks, including organic milk, for a range of brands. The firm already used a green supplier for its electricity, and so a key goal was to reduce overall energy use, and in particular cut reliance on fossil fuel-fed water boilers.

The company decided to exploit GEA heat pump technology to reclaim and channel excess heat from the new cooling plant to heat water for the milk pasteurization process. This capability would positively impact on energy use, and allow Aurivo to reduce fossil fuel-based heating (boiler), and cut carbon emissions.

A new, larger 45,000 l/h capacity pasteurizer was installed with separation, homogenization and milk standardization equipment which work seamlessly with the upgraded refrigeration and heat pump solutions.

The overall upgrade has increased Aurivo’s hourly milk processing capacity and reduced energy consumption for processing, heating and chilling by about 12 %. CO2 emissions have dropped by more than 181,000 kg per year. Importantly, the heat pump technology has dramatically cut Aurivo’s use of fossil fuels for heating the water used for pasteurization.

Aurivo’s engineering manager, Stephen Carlin said the new refrigeration and heat pump solutions provide 1200 kW of cooling, and roughly the same in heating capacity.

 “The GEA heat pump that collects and recycles what was waste energy from the chiller provides us with the remaining energy needed to take the water up to the pasteurization temperature of a max of 78°C,” he said.

“This has rendered our traditional fuel oil-burning boilers almost redundant for the pasteurization process. In fact, we now only have to turn the boilers on for one hour a week to kick-start each process cycle.”

Moreover, Carlin said the company is only using 50 % of the heat pump capacity. “If necessary, we could double the amount of hot water produced, and so potentially double our capacity for pasteurization,” he added.

GEA product manager for heat pumps, Kenneth Hoffmann, said GEA configured and installed all the equipment to suit the site.

 “All the way through the project we were focused on offering a complete solution, not just individual parts, so that our technologies could help to reduce waste, energy consumption and use of fossil fuels, while increasing capacity and making the Aurivo facility one of the most sustainable dairy plants in Ireland,” Hoffmann said.

Aurivo is continuing its partnership with GEA via a service level agreement giving the company access to a local service team 24/7.

Nuts and Bolts

GEA supplied a 45,000 l/h pasteurization system which was pre-assembled, pre-piped and pre-wired on a skid in Germany. With no on site pipework required, only the product and power lines had to be connected once the system was in situ, so installation and commissioning was really fast.

The installed GEA MSI 400 milk separator features an integrated direct drive, which reduces energy consumption compared with conventional drive configurations. Control of the entire processing line at the Aurivo site is now fully automated, using the Siemens S7-300 programmable logic controller system. Contract totalled $A4.9 million.

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