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UK:  In the words of Michael Caine in The Italian Job, we don't think the phrase 'you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off' is what one Supermarket had in mind when a catastrophic failure of a Co2 refrigeration system occurred in one of their stores earlier this month.

Now a lot of engineers can be intimidated by CO2, and having seen these images I can probably understand why. And although these occurrences are extremely rare there are hazards that operatives should be aware of when working with high-pressure transcritical Co2 systems. I would guess this particular incident was a result of a manufacturing defect or pressure relief valve failure. Nevertheless, it could have resulted in a very serious injury or worse should someone have been in the vicinity at the time.

A recent post a saw on LinkedIn - What caused this? - When CO2 Goes wrong!! asked the question ‘could this be a lack of Operator / Engineer training’. Well without having the facts and not wishing to speculate, this does however pose a very poignant question. Should being in possession of a refrigerant handling (F-Gas) certificate qualify you to work with Co2 or indeed flammable refrigerants?

Time for mandatory regulation?

According to recent statistics released by the Environmental Agency there are now over 36,000 UK engineers that are F-Gas certified, any of which without having to have had any additional training, are deemed qualified to work with Co2 and flammable-based refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

With these new refrigerants now set to dominate the marketplace and the additional risks involved, I believe there is now a strong case for the industry to become better regulated and for engineers that are being requested to work on these systems to have received the necessary training through a recognised scheme, a similar way in which the Gas Safe scheme is operated.

This said and done I don’t see this will happen anytime soon if at all. In the meantime it’s left to the employer to ensure they fulfil their duty of care and provide adequate training in the safe operation and hazards involved when working with these refrigerants, for the health and safety of their employees.

Watch the Videos showing the aftermath - Transcritical Co2 refrigeration pack EXPLODED!!

Related Articles:

Emerson Climate Technologies - CO2 as a Refrigerant — Five Potential Hazards of R744


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Marc Evans, CEO, The Sure Chill Company: For manufacturers of soft and alcoholic drinks, ensuring that their products are delivered to the consumer at the right temperature is a vital brand component. Those droplets of condensation running down the outside of a can or bottle indicate that a premium drink delivers on its promise to provide real refreshment. It is an essential part of the experience which sells the aspirations around the brand, from being able to have the best spontaneous night ever through to having a fun time with friends. In short, if the drink isn't properly chilled, then it's not worth having.

This association between brand and temperature is a partnership that has been formed over a long period of time.  And up until now this relationship has lasted well. Whilst there has been a need to innovate with clever marketing and diversify into new markets – such as catering for the more health conscious – in the developed world the beverage industry has witnessed roaring success. Yet at the same time, the market is also extremely crowded and opportunities for sustainable long-term revenue increases are few and far between. Despite its best efforts, the sector has crashed into a revenue brick wall.

Other avenues to explore

For a long time, beverage brands have been trying to break into new and emerging markets in developing countries such as Africa, India and South America. Rising populations and confident economies mean that disposable incomes are on the rise. India is of particular interest to beverage companies. Not only has household disposable income doubled since 1985, but it is also estimated to be the fifth largest consumer market by 2025, thanks in part to the emergence and rapid growth of a new middle class. This opens up a whole host of new opportunities for the sector to take their brands to new generations and to build long-term consumer loyalty.

And it is a prospect that hasn't gone unnoticed by some of the biggest names in the beverage industry. Competition is rife: neither Pepsi nor Coca-Cola has shied away from expressing financial goals for the coming decade. Coca-Cola stated in 2009 that its ambition was to double turnover to $200bn by 2020,and Pepsi have announced plans to invest $5.5bn into the India market before 2020.

In fact, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi asserted that while it had “built a highly successful business in India over the course of many years... we’ve only scratched the surface of the long-term growth opportunities that exist for PepsiCo.”

However, whilst the growth potential is obvious on paper, in reality it is a lot more complicated. The key challenge relates to developing countries' infrastructure and the impact that this has on refrigeration. Whilst occasional power cuts are a nuisance for shopkeepers in developed countries, they happen so infrequently that they can be ignored. Power outages in the developing world, however, cannot. Most shops are lucky to get a few hours’ electricity each day – power outages last for hours, sometimes days, and come with no warning. This irregular, intermittent power supply is the norm in areas struggling to service huge populations, and running a conventional beverage cooler is near impossible. 

A global brewer recently told us that they have extreme difficulty in serving cold beer across Africa, and recognise that they are selling an inferior product because they just can’t keep it cool enough due to the local power supplies.

And in those countries where the infrastructure is a lot more robust, the shopkeepers themselves can ill afford to have fridges running all night. As such it is often the case that fridges are turned off when a shop closes, meaning that drinks are warm come the morning and can take many hours - possibly until closing time - to return to their ideal serving temperature.

These are complex hurdles that need to be overcome. Clearly beverage companies do not have any control over infrastructure investment in these emerging economies, but equally, the need to find a solution to their quandary is pressing.  And solving the problem has the potential to be extremely lucrative. For those that can crack the cooling problem, the opportunities to take ownership of the markets are considerable. Not only will the choice between a cold drink and a warm one be something of a formality, but longer-term brand loyalty is also very much up for grabs at this stage in these relatively untapped markets.

An old problem, with a new solution

We're working with a number of global companies from the beverage industry to help them pilot and implement our ground-breaking cooling system in some of the most challenging retail environments in the world. What makes Sure Chill technology unique is that it doesn't require a constant power source, yet continually provides perfect cooling during periods of no power. What power it does need can be drawn from the mains, or from solar in an off-grid situation.

The technology works in an entirely different way from conventional refrigeration, which has barely developed in the last century. The scientific principle behind Sure Chill concerns a unique property of water. Simply put, water is most dense (heaviest) not as a solid (ice), but as a liquid (water) at 4°C. At this temperature, water will sink. At any other temperature, warmer or cooler – even as ice – it will rise. Sure Chill technology creates a constantly chilled environment of 4°C around a refrigeration compartment. Coincidentally, 4°C is also the ideal temperature for storing vaccines, fresh food and beverages. The temperature within a Sure Chill refrigerator, when stabilised, can only ever be a perfect 4°C, with no difference in temperature from one shelf to the next.

Sure Chill technology means that a farmer in rural Madhya Pradesh could enjoy a perfectly cooled cola just the same as a shopper in Manhattan. The experience would be the same; regardless of whether or not the power has been interrupted or the shopkeeper has had to turn the electric off overnight.  

Such a scenario doesn't have to be just a vision; the right technology means that for beverage companies all over the world it could just as easily be a reality. Our new way of thinking about refrigeration is offering these big brands a unique opportunity – their best chance of breaking into new markets and reaching the 2020 targets they set at the beginning of the decade. The race is on.

To find out more about Sure Chill visit

Sure Chill Technology

Inspired by nature to work with nature, the technology behind Sure Chill makes the impossible, possible

The science behind Sure Chill refrigeration technology

Read more about Sure Chill


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UK:  The display refrigeration equipment in grocery shops, convenience stores, and restaurants will typically account for 25% to 60% of the electricity used. Modern equipment has seen many advances in refrigeration technology  which are both cost effective and improve product quality.

The size and type of your business will determine the type of refrigeration equipment used.

Central refrigeration systems consist of refrigerated spaces connected to a remote condenser. These systems have the advantage of emitting waste heat outside of the conditioned space through the condenser.

Stand-alone refrigeration systems, often called merchandisers, usually have the case, evaporator and condenser packaged in a single unit, similar to a home refrigerator. These stand-alone units are commonly used in smaller facilities where a central refrigeration system is not justified.

There are many tips to consider when maintaining your equipment but the most common advice is to clean cooling coils regularly to ensure proper airflow and heat transfer.

The US website states that energy costs account for 15% of a grocery store’s operating budget.

Because grocery stores’ profit margins are so thin, approximately 1%, every £1.00 in energy savings is equivalent to increasing sales by £59.00.

If refrigeration comprises 50 % or more of the electricity costs for grocery and convenience stores it is likely that lighting will account for 20% whilst cooling and ventilation both average about 13 %. Any energy saving strategy that reduces these costs will increase floor space profitability and improve the operating margins of your business.

In “A Cool Display” published in the March 14 copy of Grocery Trader we stated that

“Thermal Engineering suggests that the UK’s retail food outlets are responsible for approximately 3% of total electrical energy consumption. Refrigeration accounts for a major percentage of in-store electricity demand ranging from 25% - 30% for larger hypermarkets to over 60% for food-dominant convenience stores. The report concludes that if those stores with above average energy usage reduced their consumption to industry-wide average levels through implementing energy conservation measures, then an additional 10% electrical energy savings could be achieved. This represents around 840 GWh of electricity and a reduction of 355,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions if applied to all the stores of the major retail food chains in the UK”.

Obviously, grocery and convenience stores have long hours of operation and are open most days of the week. Some equipment is on and running constantly even when the store is closed. Energy costs can add up even more when equipment is old and inefficient.

During a recent visit to a factory in Stoke we were able to view new display refrigeration cabinets using the latest technology to reduce the energy consumed. This company also refurbish old units and we saw many that had been returned for repair (see figure 1). 

Figure 1- display refrigeration units awaiting repair

Typically the reason for system failure was caused by the clogged or compacted coils which increase the head pressure and cause the compressor motors to fail (see figure 2). Although this repair can be completed by a competent mobile service engineer many of the major retailers simply remove the unit for offsite repair so that the floor space can continue working with a replacement. 

In all air movement equipment it is imperative that the resistance is kept at a minimum.    

On large air handlers you will typically have a pre-filter followed by secondary and even tertiary filters depending upon the application.

Figure 2- typical coil condition


In refrigeration equipment, including remote condensers, the coils are unprotected and so all airborne debris is drawn into the coil section and lodges between the fins.

1mm of dirt will cause a 21% drop in efficiency and can increase refrigeration energy use by 35%.
Clean equipment runs more efficiently and so condenser and evaporative coils need to be kept as clean as possible.


Figure 3 - magnetic sample located on louvre

That is why the use of a PreVent Equipment Filter (see figure 3) is slowly being recognised by the food industry as a cost effective upgrade to existing and new equipment.The filter sits on the outside of the air intake louvre which allows retail staff to remove and clean them as part of their daily cleaning schedule. 

There are approximately 800,000 retail display units running in the UK with more being added everyday as the number of convenience stores grow. There is a lot of energy to be saved if these units can be kept running as efficiently as possible which equates to more profit for the retailers. 


For more information about how air intake filters are being used, contact RAB Specialist Engineers Limited on 01635 248633 or visit

This article was produced by Richard Betts, Managing Director at RAB Specialist Engineer


Bio:  Richard has worked in the M&E Building Services industry for over 35-years.

In 1994 Richard formed ECEX, focusing on the M&E Building Services market and specilaising in procurement and supply of sub-contract labour to the industry. In 2012 Richard sold his interests in ECEX and formed a new business, RAB Specialist Engineers which focuses on the supply of air intake filter screens, ductwork, insulation & pipework, and key areas of building maintenance. 



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Every month, in the pages of industry trade magazines, I read manufacturers’ statements, claiming the introduction of “innovative” and “ground breaking” products and technology. I readily acknowledge that advances in compressor and evaporator technology, as well as the introduction of EC fans and electronic controllers, have improved efficiency and performance. There have also been developments in refrigerants used in the industry, but these have been largely dictated by regulation and legislation.

For three generations, the evolution of cold storage technology has, in the main, been component led, with the fundamental principles of refrigeration remaining unchanged. The result is that the majority of food service refrigeration equipment is of a similar design, sharing many of its characteristics with a domestic fridge from the 1940s.

Turning Refrigeration Through 90 degrees

In a fairly short period, Adande has evolved from a HVAC engineering consultancy into a successful and respected manufacturer of refrigeration products for food service and food retailing. This has not been achieved by following industry custom and practice, but by challenging established wisdom on the design of refrigeration equipment. I’m not saying that we have turned refrigeration on its head, but we did rotate it through 90o, developing a system which is based on horizontal insulated drawers instead of conventional upright cabinets with doors.

The development of the Adande refrigerated drawer system was prompted by chefs working around the clock on North Sea oil and gas rigs. The kitchen fridges and freezers were in constant use, resulting in cold air spillage at each door opening and leading to food deterioration and wastage.

Our solution was a unique and subsequently patented drawer system, featuring a modified air flow pattern to deliver high efficiency cooling. It works on the principle that cold air is denser than warm air, with specially designed insulated drawers holding the refrigerated air within the units no matter how frequently the drawers are opened. Adande units eliminate the warm air infiltration, which is associated with upright and other under counter refrigeration equipment, for energy savings of up to 60%. Adande systems also offer improved humidity and temperature stability for increased storage periods with food maintained at superior quality and a reduced risk of bacterial contamination. Independent, like for like tests have indicated that food waste may be reduced by 25% by using our drawers, rather than alternative refrigeration systems. The efficiency of the system also reduces duty on components, such as motors and compressors, for reduced maintenance and extended product life cycle.

A Fresh Approach to Retail Refrigeration

The inertia in our industry also applies to refrigerated display cabinets in the retail sector. The preferred solution for the display of chilled goods in supermarkets and convenience stores is the open front multi deck cabinet. Whilst these displays have benefited from component led enhancements over the years, the basic refrigeration characteristics of such cabinets have remained largely unchanged.

In the quest for more energy efficient refrigeration equipment, glass doors on open front cabinets were initially regarded by many manufacturers and retailers as the answer. However, evidence has indicated that glass doors act as physical barriers to shopping with a detrimental effect on browsing and impulse purchases.

In addressing a solution to the situation, we adopted a fresh approach to the principles of air flow and refrigeration, incorporating thermodynamic theory researched by Dr Ed Hammond of ECH Engineering and manufacturing input from The Bond Group. After extensive development and testing we unveiled Aircell, which is a unique and patented air flow management system, designed to reduce energy consumption and improve the shopping experience, without the need for glass doors. Subsequently, we have worked closely with cabinet manufacturer, Manor Concepts, to produce prototype models, which have been trialled in the new Tesco eco store at Lincoln. In the coming months, Aircell will be available via several UK cabinet manufacturers, under licence agreements.

Aircell is designed for open front, refrigerated multi deck cabinets. Independent tests have proven that Aircell delivers significant energy savings, as well as more accurate and stable temperatures, compared with conventional cabinets.

Unlike conventional multi deck displays, which have a single column of cold air from the top to the bottom of the cabinet, Aircell divides the merchandising envelope into separate cells between shelves. The smaller cells have a shorter air column and independent management of air movement, limiting the pressure of stacked dense cold air on the air curtain and reducing cold air spillage from the case. The performance of the Aircell system is also enhanced by the elimination of back panel flow, promoting temperature stability and product loading flexibility.

By reducing the amount of chilled air which spills from refrigerated cabinets, Aircell also limits the impact of cold aisle syndrome, improving the shopping experience. It is customer friendly, providing ease of access to chilled merchandise for browsing and shopping.

The demands from end users for energy efficient refrigeration equipment, with operational and performance benefits, have never offered more challenges to manufacturers than they do today. For those seeking to meet these challenges, I offer the following advice: the refrigeration industry needs innovation not duplication.

This article was produced by Ian Wood, Managing Director at Adande Refrigeration

Ian Wood - Managing Director - Adande Refrigeration

Ian Wood is the co-founder and Managing Director of Adande and is recognised throughout the industry as a refrigeration pioneer. Ian addresses the need for a new approach to the development of cold storage solutions and challenges manufacturers to innovate, rather than duplicate existing technology.





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Most cooling towers work on the basis that ambient air is drawn over a flow of warm water, which causes some of it to evaporate and be absorbed by the airflow.

The heat required to evaporate this water is derived from the water itself. This action causes the water to cool. The net result is that the air leaving the tower is saturated with water vapour and sometimes droplets whilst the remaining water leaving the cooling tower has been cooled. This process is known as evaporative cooling.

A mechanical fan system draws air from the bottom of the tower, through the fill, assisting with the heat exchange process before then exhausting it into the atmosphere. A simple process but one which can often cause serious health and safety issues.

Part of the process of drawing air into the tower also brings with it airborne debris such as seeds, leaves and insects. This debris will settle in the fill pond and gradually rot to produce a sludge which provides a nutrient source for bacteria. In some cases this build up of debris can lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease; a potentially fatal pneumonia caused by droplet inhalation of water contaminated by Legionella pneumophila bacteria. The bacteria can multiply in conditions where temperatures are between 20-45°C and nutrients are readily available.

In order to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and comply with the requirements of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8, a regular cooling tower chemical treatment should be performed in order to clean and disinfect the system. This cleaning process removes fouling that can provide favourable environmental growth conditions for Legionella bacteria.

The normal process involves cooling tower chlorination which involves additional bio-dispersant, physical cleaning and then further post chlorination before the system is returned safely to service.

This maintenance is part of a programme that will involve the sampling and testing of water at regular intervals and is completed by specialist contractors.

Increased debris will increase the nutrient source and allow the bacteria to multiply exponentially.

Prevention is better than a cure therefore the best way to reduce the build up of debris is to stop it from being drawn into the air intake system in the first place.

Air intake filter screens, such as those manufactured by Permatron, can be located on the exterior of a cooling tower. This provides an external filter to minimise the impact of airborne debris in the vicinity.

As air is drawn through the air intake filter screen, it creates an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps airborne debris. The screens improves laminar air flow and reduces the sludge build up dramatically. Air filter screens are the first line of defence when it comes to reducing the risk of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Furthermore, the use of air filter screens reduces the use of chemicals and can reduce maintenance schedules by as much as 60%.

For further information about how air filter screens are improving the efficiency of HVAC equipment and protecting cooling towers from the potential lethal build up of bacteria, contact RAB Specialist Engineers Limited.

This article was produced by Richard Betts, Managing Director at RAB Specialist Engineer


Bio:  Richard has worked in the M&E Building Services industry for over 35-years.

In 1994 Richard formed ECEX, focusing on the M&E Building Services market and specilaising in procurement and supply of sub-contract labour to the industry. In 2012 Richard sold his interests in ECEX and formed a new business, RAB Specialist Engineers which focuses on the supply of air intake filter screens, ductwork, insulation & pipework, and key areas of building maintenance. 



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Once it was nearly always industrial or military applications that led the way in technology and innovation.

When an exciting and remarkably slippy new material called PTFE (later branded Teflon) was discovered by a chemical scientist as he worked on ideas for a new choroflurocarbon refrigerant, the early applications were actually in the nuclear power industry – the clever frying pans only followed more than 15 years later.

When the first printed circuit boards became available in the late 1930s, it was the US military which was first to use this new technology on a large scale to make proximity fuses – with consumer applications again only emerging a couple of decades later. The same customer, the US military, was also first in line when the integrated circuit or microchip became available around 1959.

Times have changed of course, and one of the most striking changes has been the remarkable turnaround in this relationship between industrial and consumer markets.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that military and industrial environments have lost the power to innovate of course, because both of these, and the military in particular, remain powerful drivers of change. But the rise and rise of global consumer power means that just as often it is consumer applications that drive new technology forwards, and in consumer applications that new technology first sees the light of day. Innovation is every bit as likely to arise from the ‘laboratories’ of Apple and Samsung as it is from industrial or military research facilities.

Smart applicances

This has certainly proven to be the case with refrigeration, notably through the increasing application of computing power to basic refrigeration technology (the principles of which have remained unchanged for well over a century) to create a new generation of “smart” appliances.
Manufacturers are already building "smart" home refrigerators that can interact with their owners and with each other, connect to smartphones, call a repairman when something is wrong, and even negotiate rates with the power company.

If something goes wrong, owners can find out what's wrong by calling customer service and holding the phone up to a tiny speaker that plays an audible diagnostic code. If the problem is minor, like a clogged vent or water filter, owners will get instructions on how to fix it on their own. If something has really gone wrong, the repair team will already know what needs to be fixed when they arrive.

Other refrigerators have built-in touch-screens that can keep track of the food in your fridge, and find recipes to match that inventory. And like tablets or smartphones, these fridges can also run apps and hook up to social-media networks.

The future for commercial refrigeration

This marriage of computing and refrigeration is a path which commercial refrigeration is already treading of course; today’s sophisticated refrigeration control technologies are unrecognisable from those of just a few years ago.

RCS’ own latest generation Eden Compact and Avanta controllers, for example, feature integrated on-board IP / wireless or 485 communication and sophisticated algorithms to ensure efficient and appropriate use of energy-intensive items of refrigeration plant; while new system managers like the Oracle SM1020 GP gateway make a reality the remote management of control and monitoring functions and real-time controller status.

But the fact remains that we still have a way to go before commercial refrigeration, and particularly the controllers which lie at the heart of these systems, can truly be called “smart”.

The good news is that there are already plenty of developments in the pipeline. We are not so far away from controllers being able to diagnose not only controller faults, but also faults in the cabinet to which they are attached. This would allow the controller to alert monitoring personnel when a fan has failed – or even more usefully, to predictively inform the user before the fan motor fails.

By coupling this feature to an accurate and dependable defrost on demand system (defrosting only when the cabinet actually requires it, rather than scheduling 4 or 6 defrosts over a 24 hour period regardless), such controllers would save considerable amounts of energy, not with just the defrosts themselves but also with the energy required to bring a case back down to temperature once the defrost has finished.

The wi-fi challenge

So the technology is on the way. But there may yet be one final hurdle to overcome – the relatively slow transition being made by the industry towards Wi-Fi communications.
Wi-Fe certainly isn’t new technology anymore – it is something which the industry has been talking about for nearly a decade. The benefits of adoption are clear - when retailers take steps towards wireless rather than wired systems they reduce material costs in terms of the cables, installation costs in terms of the number of electrician-hours, and commissioning costs in the amount of work required by fridge or control engineers. The potential for errors is reduced, and the flexibility for future layout change enhanced.

Above all, however, it is hard to imagine truly ‘smart’ commercial refrigeration control, with all the benefits that this will bring, being achieved until Wi-Fi becomes not the exception but the norm.

To achieve the hi-tech, low cost, environmentally sustainable buildings that the industry demands, wireless and ‘smart’ will undoubtedly have to go hand in hand.

About RCS Energy Management

RCS Energy Management is an innovative and independent British technology company, specialising in the research, development, production and support of leading-edge controller, monitoring and systems management technologies for environmental control in the food retail, coldroom and medical sectors.

To find out more about RCS Energy Management's and their products click here


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The Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning, and Heat Pump (RACHP) industry is a professional career that offers a vast variety of employment and academic opportunities.  Historically, the industry has been a subsidiary of other specialist trades, commonly referred to as a sector within Building Services Engineering.  Owing to recent market drivers such as climate change and the environmental impact of RACHP, it is realistic to say that the industry has discovered its own identity, and anyone considering a career, or further development, in the RACHP industry, should be certain of an appealing and positive future.

The RACHP industry has attracted an abundance of attention due to the focus on environmental concerns relating to its carbon footprint.  Many alternative refrigerants, enhanced products, evolving technologies, and the integration with renewable energy sources can be expected in the future.  Whilst most of the concepts have been proven historically, now there is a purpose to implement them in the field and with Government incentives for ‘green’ end-users, the future is exciting.

As an enthusiastic employee within the industry that has studied from practical ‘hands-on’ course routes to more recently in achieving a first class Bachelors Degree with Honours, I want to share some personal experiences on how I developed academically whilst working in the industry.  I hope this insight encourages anyone considering a future in the RACHP industry to give it a go and take full advantage of the rewards on offer.

I was fortunate to discover the RACHP industry by coincidence.  I left school with a strong passion for engineering, reassured that it was the profession for me, however actually identifying a specific trade within a diverse discipline was not an easy mission.  Leaving school automatically creates enormous amounts of pressure whether it is from family, friends, or educational influences.  School leavers need to choose a route of work in a specific line of business for the rest of their working lives.  This alone would be daunting to most.

I have been very fortunate to study from practical ‘hands on’ courses straight through to a Degree level whilst exposing myself to many aspects of the RACHP industry.  Understandably, most people relate the industry to what they know, frequently in terms of a domestic refrigerator, there was once a day where I had the same viewpoint.  Since maturing in everyday life, I was quick to discover that almost everything, whether a tangible good or a process, the RACHP has some form of involvement.

I, for one, had absolutely no idea on a career path so I opted to gain invaluable work experience in mechanical engineering.  It was a few years later after learning the basic fundamentals of engineering, I decided to travel within Europe, and it was this impromptu move that was the start of an incredible journey in the RACHP industry.

I found employment within a commercial air-conditioning company.  Once I gained a few months experience, I encouraged myself to return home and register on a nationally recognised RACHP course.  It was important for me to display willingness so when approaching companies looking for an apprenticeship, I could demonstrate how proactive I had been about making a career in the RACHP industry.  Admittedly, this was the hardest stage finding momentum in my career to date, the reason being was seeking employment with a company that were willing to sponsor me and enable me to develop into a qualified and competent engineer.  Finding employment had taken many months of hard work and dedication which included adopting several strategies, from ‘cold calling’ prospective employers to writing letters to many companies in search of an opportunity.  I am proud to say that since my first recruitment, I have never had to worry about employment or personal development, as the industry has proven to be very dynamic, where many internal and external market forces frequently generate new challenges.

I was keen to complete my academic training to the highest level feasible.  Many career paths commence with studying for 2-4 years full time before being employed and work thereafter, however when you compare this to the route I experienced in spending over eight years to date where my academic studies were conducted predominantly on a day release basis, it was much quicker.  I found that having the two, work experience and academic training simultaneously, enabled me to develop and mature into the industry at a much faster rate.  This is something that has helped me in exceeding targets at work and achieve the higher grades academically.  This was driven by frequently using one to compliment the other in everyday activities. 

Once I committed to studying, I was introduced to many interesting theories leading to high-quality sources of information.  Not having a clue what I had let myself into was actually to my benefit, as I was overwhelmed with the avenues to take in research.  After a few assignments I became wise to good terms of reference where they could be found.  It was actually surprising to see how many articles I read that were either subjective or did not tell the whole story to make trusted source for reference, this now makes me very critical to my own development and to that matter for all aspects of life.  This is a key skill I have taken away from studying at Degree level.

When studying, it is paramount to get a balance of work and life, a fair, well-balanced plan will pay dividends if executed with intent.  My philosophy was to work smart when I was in a good mental state.  At the early stages, I was spending lots of time trying to be a perfectionist in writing and researching, however I soon realised it was not effective as I would make many changes when I was in a different, more positive, frame of mind.  The key to this was starting as early as possible, even with a provisional plan, then I was in control and not overly concerned with timescales, I found revisiting something, was for me, an effective method of digesting knowledge and enhancing results that little bit more as I would come back to something several times when I was maybe thinking differently.

I always aim for the best results reasonably possible as I think it shows my employers that I didn’t just attend College or University, I went and mastered the course.  I think this holds me in good stead for future investment in further education, as they know I will capitalise on the opportunity and get the most out of it.

More recently, I have been responsible for the design of systems and associated equipment for tendering projects throughout the process until customer handover.   This includes investigating customer’s requirements and their key business drivers, I always seek an thorough understanding of a process prior to considering refrigeration concepts.  This ensures the optimal interest is in the application.  The recent aspects I have experienced include renewable energy industrial heating applications incorporating natural refrigerants, the methods to minimise product weight loss whilst maintain optimum quality in the food sectors and the focus on energy consumption reduction for companies to show a ‘green’ image and improve profitability.  Without my comprehensive academic background I do not believe I would not be as positive and effective as I demonstrate today.  I believe that studying for a degree makes you think in your own way as you have to be critical to certain aspects related to industry, although as this is a mighty ask you have to think that bit more as it has to be correct and enable you to derive at your own conclusion and recommendations.

Since finishing studying, I have realigned my development goals.  All are very optimistic but realistic.  I have taken a much needed year out to develop in the working environment, giving 100% and it has been good to be totally focused.  I have maybe 40 years left in my working lifetime, so I want to make the best use of them and achieve all my aspirations as I know they are possible, it will just take time and appropriate planning.  Some of these include becoming a Chartered Engineer, complete a Masters Degrees in Engineering and then in Business/Management studies, be a significant contributor to the Institute of Refrigeration and become a Fellow member in the process, ultimately I want to be the best at what I set out to do in the RACHP industry.

There are now Degree courses that are tailored to RACHP and there are many options thereafter in Building Services, Chemical Engineering, and all aspects of Engineering.  I am very proud to work in an industry where the opportunities are endless and the skills obtained make me a better person in everyday life.  I would recommend anyone, no matter what their past, to investigate what is on offer.


David Cooper achieved a Bachelor of Science Degree, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning with First Class Honours at Grimsby University Centre in 2013, and is the current RAC National Student of the Year - Gold Winner 2013.

He is a Member of the Institute of Refrigeration and employed as Project Development Engineer at Johnson Controls where he has worked for more than four years. Previously David has worked at Sabroe and Braywhite Refrigeration.


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