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MEDIterranean food and agro industry applications of Solar COoling technologies

Final Report Summary - MEDISCO (MEDIterranean food and agro industry applications of Solar COling technologies)

The MEDISCO project aimed to test and optimise cooling concepts for the food and agricultural industries in the Mediterranean region, based on solar thermal technologies. The project focused on the southern basin areas and assessed the potential of alternative systems to meet current and future demand of the target industries.

The most appropriate approach for systems' application was defined using environmental, technical and economical terms. Moreover, two innovative high performing solar driven cooling and refrigeration concepts were developed, aiming at the best compromise towards innovative technologies' use, primary energy savings and economic issues. The systems were applied and evaluated in experimental field sites and guidelines for best practice applications were formulated. The project results increased the knowledge and awareness towards the penetration potential of solar technologies in the regional food industry.

The technology components were selected among the industrially available small scale systems, in order to be modular and meet both large and small capacity demand. The equipment was based on liquid absorption ammonia-water technology, which increased the system flexibility. The theoretical and experimental project activities focused on the system and hydraulics configuration, the system control and the understanding of operational parameters.

Firstly, the conditions of the food industry in the Mediterranean and the available alternatives were analysed in order to define the proposal prerequisites. Moreover, potential energy savings were assessed in three different scenarios and end user requirements were identified. The medium temperature collector technology which better suited the planned application was also determined through technological, economic and market surveys. Mathematical tools were developed, to allow for simulation and parametric analysis of the system components. The models were evaluated using experimental sites' data. In addition, a simplified user-friendly tool was designed, in order to assist planners and technical professionals in decision making. The model was available in the project web portal and in numerous open software websites.

The project experiments' monitoring protocol was developed according to the most up-to-date unified monitoring procedures. The regular inspection of the installed plants ensured the continuous evaluation of the system performance and allowed for its optimisation. A database of the acquired information was created, to facilitate assessment of the modelling tools, and a reference system was conceptualised, to obtain a common starting point for the single monitoring levels. The evaluated parameters included the time required for the chiller to reach set operation temperature, the collector efficiency, the chiller performance coefficient and the consumption of electricity.

Furthermore, the potential for commercialisation and market penetration was extensively examined, utilising the developed simulation tools in order to determine optimum system configurations and to analyse the proposal performance in different climates, under varying loads and operation conditions. Nevertheless, the results were generic and the suitability of the system for specific industries should be defined on a case study basis. Dissemination activities aimed to communicate the developed knowledge to local authorities and decision makers, as well as to the industry and engineering experts. The applied strategy included presentations, publications, visits to the MEDISCO installations, workshops and the development and regular update of a project related website.

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