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Updated: ASHRAE announces Technology Award recipients


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February 10, 2014

 A Canadian cheese factory is among the projects recognized by ASHRAE as innovative buildings in its Technology Awards program. The awards recognize outstanding achievements by members who have successfully applied innovative building design. Their designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality. Winning projects are selected from entries earning regional awards.

Gheorghe Mihalache, engineering director, Atis Technologies in Montreal, QC, receives first place in the existing industrial facilities or processes category for Fromagerie des Basques, Trois-Pistoles, QC. The site Fromagerie des Basques is a family cheese factory founded in 1994. The annual milk transformation is around three million liters and the energy sources are oil #2 and electricity. In 2010, a mechanical project was developed to:

• Change the heating and refrigeration of the site.

• Construct a digester to produce biogas from the plant rejections (whey and white waters) and use the biogas in the production and buildings heating.

• Treat the digester effluent to be able to correspond to the environmental standards permitting use of an absorption field.

• Add ventilation (100 per cent fresh air) in the cheese production area to ensure a positive pressure and correspond to Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations.

• Change the High Temperature Short Time to be able to preheat the milk in the pasteurization using the refrigeration heat reject.

• Implement a control system performing survey of the mechanical system, automated control of main production processes, alarms handling and optimization of energy consumption. 

One of the biggest concerns was the whey and white water treatment. The factory used to send the whey to a local pork farm but that facility closed and the municipality was unable to treat the entire organic reject. To continue the production, the owner had to invest in a treatment plant. Atis Technologies proposed construction of an anaerobic treatment plant to transform the organic charges of the effluent in biogas (a combination of methane and carbon dioxide) while also using the biogas to produce heat needed in the production.

An existing warehouse was transformed in a mechanical room for the heating, refrigeration and digester infrastructure, and a new building was constructed for the effluent post treatment. The digester concept uses a simple head three-phase separator, ensuring a uniform velocity, which is an essential condition for digester efficiency and non contamination with “annoying” bacteria.

The vision of the project was to create proper conditions for the production respecting all sanitary regulations for ventilation, minimize all necessary energy for the production, use of proper temperature level for heating and cooling, separate the mechanical infrastructure from the production, make the site able to handle the effluent treatment by transforming it into a valuable combustible for the production. After functioning for over a year, the project meets its objectives.

First place awards were presented at the ASHRAE 2014 Winter Conference in New York, NY, January 18-22, at the New York Hilton.


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