Belgium's Colruyt opens two HFC-free stores

By Andrew Williams, Dec 20, 2016, 15:50 2 minute reading

The Colruyt Group has opened two renovated supermarkets fitted with propene-based refrigeration systems.

Chillers at the Colruyt supermarket in Morlanwelz, Belgium

Leading Belgian retailer Colruyt has opened two renovated supermarkets fitted with refrigeration systems based on the hydrocarbon propene (also known as propylene), a natural refrigerant. The first store, in Kortrijk, opened on 7 December and the ribbon on the second, in Morlanwelz, was cut on 14 December.

The renovations mark the latest step in the Colruyt Group’s journey towards becoming HFC-free. In December 2014 it adopted the official target of using 100% natural refrigerants for all its cooling needs.

The current blueprint is based on two or three small refrigerant circuits each with a maximum propene charge of 2.5kg, and a secondary system that uses propylene glycol to bring the cold to where it is needed.

At the system’s heart are compact chillers containing less than 2.5kg of hydrocarbon refrigerant. With a refrigeration capacity of 30 to 50 kW, one chiller can cool the Group's smaller OKay and Bio-Planet stores. Larger Colruyt supermarkets need to run two compact chillers. An extra chiller is always added redundantly, ready to step in should the other fail. Using a smaller refrigerant charge means they can be placed inside the store.

The principle of this plug-and-play system was devised in August 2014. Propane-based versions were first installed in a Bio-Planet store in Mons in November 2015. The system was installed in three further Bio-Planet stores in Hasselt (January 2016), in Jambes (February 2016) and in Braine l’Alleud (April 2016).

Replacing all our refrigeration installations with propane or propene systems will result in the reduction of the Colruyt Group’s CO2 emissions in Belgium by 10%."
- Mathieu Magrone, store manager

Fitting hydrocarbon systems to this blueprint "helps to considerably decrease our greenhouse gas emissions,” said store manager Mathieu Magrone.

“We’ve already tested the system in other Colruyt Group stores such as OKay and Bio-Planet. In time, all Colruyt stores will be equipped with it,” Magrone said.

“Replacing all our refrigeration installations with propane or propene systems will result in the reduction of the Colruyt Group’s CO2 emissions in Belgium by 10%,” he added.

All new Colruyt Group cooling installations will use natural refrigerants from 2017 onwards. Currently there are 50 to 60 new refrigeration systems in the pipeline, a mix of new shops and refits of existing stores.

At the current pace, the Group will be HFC-free by 2027, according to Project Engineer Collin Bootsveld.

For a wide-ranging interview about the Colruyt Group’s strategy, see the autumn edition of Accelerate Europe magazine .

By Andrew Williams

Dec 20, 2016, 15:50

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