Lineage Logistics, one of the largest cold storage warehouse providers in the world, funded sweeping renovations to the refrigeration system at a facility in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, including replacement of an evaporative condenser in April.

According to Evapco sales representative and industrial cooling rep. Brad Stonesifer with Hanover, Pennsylvania-based MidAtlantic Refrigeration, the replacement condenser also permitted future-proofing of the operations at the facility.

“We designed and specified our condenser coil bundle for conversion suitability to R449a, hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant blend, allowing a change-out from R-22 in the near future,” he explained.

Though a replacement condenser was the top priority, the conversion to R449a was also an important need. This required special attention by Stonesifer and engineers at the manufacturer. The condenser required slight oversizing from 5,160 to 5,670 MBH to accommodate the refrigerant exchange (R449a requiring the larger size), and system components would need to be suitable for the conversion, requiring two inlets and four outlets per coil. The design changes were easily provided by the manufacturer.

The Perth Amboy cold storage building was one of more than 30 Preferred Freezer Services (PFS) cold storage facilities acquired by Lineage Logistics in 2019 — all designed by John Galiher, then president and owner of PFS. Lineage managers acted swiftly to replace the challenged condenser there, choosing to add important options, such as passivation and water treatment, offered by the manufacturer to ensure reliable, long-term operation of the equipment.

Lineage managers and their installing/service contractor of choice — Jesse Landis, owner of Souderton, Pennsylvania-based J. I. Landis Welding & Mechanical — chose Taneytown, Maryland-based Evapco to lock in the advantage of single-source provision of the new evaporative condenser, protective factory-assisted passivation of all galvanized steel, and factory-mounted water treatment.

“Evapco not only provided factory pretreatment of the coil bundle to reduce its chemical reactivity but also ongoing monitoring of the field passivation as an assurance of all the galvanized metal’s long-term stability,” said Stonesifer. “Pass-protect factory passivation is a two-step process that begins before a unit ships and continues for the first four to eight weeks of its operation in the field — until it’s determined that passivation is complete. Once accomplished, the temporary passivation panel is removed from service, and only the Smart Shield [solid chemistry water treatment system to control scale, corrosion and microbial growth] remains in use.”

FIGURE 1: Installer and independent contractor Jesse Landis is shown inside the the Lineage facility in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Galvanized Steel and Passivation

“With evaporative condensers, galvanized steel is often the material of choice, chosen to withstand the rigors of environmental deterioration,” said Stonesifer. “It [galvanized steel, compared to stainless] also offers better heat transfer and first-cost advantages.

“We tell those new to the field that, for evaporative cooling equipment, shiny metal surfaces are not good,” he continued. “It may look nice for a while, but passivated steel coil bundles and other galvanized steel surfaces are much preferred because of the resistance to corrosion. And, in the field, maintaining that passivation is just as important.”

Galvanized passivation is complete when there is minimal white rust formation and a dull-gray color is achieved.

“With galvanized steel, there’s always the risk of corrosion unique to it known as white rust,” said Stonesifer. Though the more familiar red-brown rust is more quickly damaging to steel, white rust can also lead to premature deterioration.

Stonesifer explained that part of the solution for the condenser’s longevity is water treatment.

“In fact, that was one of the very early considerations for the facility and the condenser that serves it,” he said. “That’s why we offered free makeup water testing to determine the water quality; it helped us to custom-engineer a site-specific solution.”

FIGURE 2. At the Lineage Logistics facility in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Evapco eco-PMC condensers play a key role in assuring that the facility’s valuable frozen foods are maintained at exactly the right temperature.

Lobster, Shrimp, Scallops, and Crab

“We take the threat of white rust seriously,” said Bob Walsh, manager, plant operations for 15 Lineage facilities — 10 in New Jersey, three in Ohio, one in New York, and one in Maryland.

“Challenges that can threaten facility operations are top priority,” he added. “After all, our inventory is valuable. At Perth Amboy, we store mostly seafood — lobster, shrimp, scallops, and crab. At this moment, there’s 7 million to 8 million pounds of crab in the freezers and 1 million pounds of crab in the cooler.”

Though the Perth Amboy building is large by most standards at 120,000 square feet, it’s a bit small among facilities in the Lineage portfolio. Walsh explained that an average Lineage cold storage facility might be in the 225,000- to 300,000-square-foot range, and a large one — currently under construction in Olathe, Kansas — is 500,000 square feet. The Olathe facility intends to utilize the same Evapco water treatment solutions.

According to Dustin Cohick, water systems product manager with Evapco, Lineage has worked with Evapco for years on a wide range of various cold storage refrigeration projects. In more recent years, these have included evaporative condensers, evaporators, and vessels, in conjunction with water treatment solutions, for the evaporative cooling equipment.

FIGURE 3: "With evaporative condensers, galvanized steel is often the material of choice, chosen to withstand the rigors of environmental deterioration," said Brad Stonesifer, sales engineer, MidAtlantic Refrigeration.

The Crown Jewel

According to Walsh, the condenser is the cooling system’s crown jewel — ensuring steady temperatures within the facility that includes large refrigerators at 34°F, freezers at minus 5°, and a loading dock cooled to 38°.

Walsh explained that temperatures in the refrigerated cooler are most critical.

“For the freezers, we could lower the set temp 18-20 hours before the retrofit because we knew that, during the retrofit, the temperatures [without mechanical cooling] would rise,” Walsh said. “But with the refrigerators — where we’re unable to lower the temperatures further — it’s especially critical to protect the cooled product.”

Knowing the importance of a relentlessly ticking clock, Landis — whose company does a lot of work for Lineage, coast to coast — was chosen to rig, commission, and service the new cooling equipment. J. I. Landis began its preparations many weeks before installing the new condenser to include many carefully preassembled components and piping. The actual retrofit began at 2 a.m., and, by 7 a.m., the company fully evacuated and isolated the old condenser. By 10 p.m., the new condenser was back online — ensuring both freezer and refrigerated temps throughout the facility.

The swift replacement was a success. Walsh said that during the 18-hour retrofit, there was no discernible rise in temperature for the frozen, or cooled, product.

When the retrofit began, one of the first needs was for J. I. Landis technicians to evacuate and capture 11,000 pounds of R-22, which would be reintroduced to the new condenser within several hours.

“Of course, the plan is to switch to R449a soon, as we’ve done at 10 Lineage facilities previously,” said Walsh. “We’ve found that, though the new refrigerant blend works very well, it tends to hang up in the condenser. That’s why we asked for the custom construction of two inlets and four outlets per coil; Evapco met our request eagerly and with perfect results.”

The eco-PMC condenser chosen for the cold storage facility is designed to use minimal water due to the enhanced heat transfer efficiency of the eco’s Ellipti-fin coil construction and offers exceptional heat rejection.

FIGURE 4: A comparison of the coils.

Passivation Details

As part of the planning, Stonesifer and Landis also made preparations with the factory-authorized water treatment partner to schedule field passivation of the condenser. Damion Riera, who serves as regional manager for Water Engineering Services out of Staten Island, New York, arrived on scene shortly after delivery of the condenser.

“We were very pleased with the level of expertise he brought to the job,” said Walsh.

Riera quickly commissioned the pass-protect field passivation that remained in place for just five weeks — the time required to complete the field passivation process for this project. He visited weekly during that time to supervise and dial-in the passivation’s final “step two” treatment process described by Stonesifer. The factory passivation expedited the pace at which field passivation could be accomplished, thus allowing a hastened startup date since the heat load could be immediately introduced to the new equipment.

“This is the most critical time in the unit’s service life — startup and commissioning,” said Cohick.

“Our eco-PMC condensers with finned coils combined with factory passivation of the hot-dipped galvanized steel coils both provided advantages that Lineage wanted,” explained Cohick. “The factory pretreatment on the coils became an important advantage for the Perth Amboy retrofit because the new equipment would be placed immediately under heat load. Natural, on-site passivation works only when there’s substantial time to allow the metal to passivate gradually, while not in use. It often takes a few months to properly chemically passivate on-site with careful monitoring of water pH and chemistry.”

According to Brett Alexander, senior marketing and application engineer, Evapco, after the Lineage facility’s submittal was approved, the Taneytown plant began construction of the eco-PMC condenser. During this time, the coils were built and finned for enhanced thermal performance, then hot-dipped galvanized.

“Immediately after that, we bring the newly galvanized coils back to the plant to begin step one of our proprietary passivation pretreatment, known as Passiv-Assist,” he explained.

“We’re the only manufacturer in the industry that has the capability to facilitate factory passivation,” said Alexander. “Now, we’re not just telling customers they need to passivate their galvanized steel — we’re showing them how to do it under tightly controlled conditions.”

“This becomes a key differentiator for those of us in the field,” assured Stonesifer. “Evapco’s Passiv-Assist enhances the speed and effectiveness of properly executed field passivation, allowing their evaporative equipment to be passivated in the field under immediate heat load.”

Water Treatment

Meanwhile, as other condenser components are built and assembled, the factory-mounted Smart Shield® was installed on the spray pump side of the unit.

“Lineage chose Smart Shield — integrated into the condenser’s construction at the factory — to manage reliable, solid chemistry water treatment, an advantage that also eliminates the potential of liquid spills,” said Alexander. “Smart Shield includes all the components required for effective, long-term water treatment to control scale, corrosion, and microbiological growth,” explained Alexander.

When the eco-PMC condenser with the Passiv-Assist coil and factory-mounted Smart Shield water treatment was nearing completion, shipment of the unit was coordinated with Landis.

“We passivate a lot of the condensers and evaporators at our facility,” explained Landis. “We’re very familiar with what’s involved to accomplish thorough treatment of galvanized steel. Passivation is the most important step toward system longevity. Evapco’s factory passivation process — and its water treatment technologies — are impressive.”

This smooth startup and commissioning process has given Lineage managers total confidence in the operation of a trouble-free system.

Legacy Installations — On the Ground

At Lineage Logistics’ Perth Amboy facility — one of 30-some cold storage facilities that “rode along” with their acquisition of Preferred Freezer Services (PFS) in 2019 — the new cooling system condensers that replaced existing equipment were installed on the ground, rather than in the air, as is so typical of this equipment.

Jesse Landis, owner of Souderton, Pennsylvania-based J. I. Landis Welding & Mechanical, whose firm can attribute a very substantial portion of its business to the relationship it has with Lineage, said that ground-level installations were very common with PFS.

“We worked for PFS, and also with Lineage, among others,” Landis said. “This type of work is our specialty. There are very few cold storage facilities with large condensers installed at ground level. At Lineage, they refer to these ground-level installations, those that were part of the PFS acquisition, as ‘legacy installs,’ stemming from, well, tradition at PFS.”

Of course, PFS was folded into Lineage following the acquisition, so the term fits well.

Landis explained that though elevated cooling equipment, often mounted above the facilities they serve, saves real estate on the ground and may also provide a safety factor to the equipment, there are many advantages to ground-level installations, including reduced initial construction costs as well as reductions in the cost of installation and service work. Simpler ground-level installations also generally cost less to engineer.

“We have no issues with purge points, and it’s so much easier for service work, such as checking the coils for calcification, coil cleaning, replacing media, or water eliminators,” said Landis. “Rigging work can become quite involved and expensive with elevated equipment. Yet, there seems to be broad preference for this nationally. Some facility managers and engineers prefer having purge points at the [cooling] system’s highest level  where the refrigerant gas turns into liquid form. Yet, we’ve never had any issues with that for condenser equipment that’s installed at ground level, with no risk to tender, easily damaged rubber roofs below, among other things. We’ve come to appreciate those legacy installs.”