Stemilt Growers Receives Governor’s Award for Energy Efficiency


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Over the past two years, Stemilt Growers reduced energy consumption at its largest fruit packing facility, Olds Station in Wenatchee, Washington, USA by 30 percent. Energy use at the facility is dominated by industrial refrigeration and controlled atmosphere equipment that is used to keep the fruit fresh until it can be processed and shipped. Stemilt made efficiency improvements by reducing the speed of their industrial refrigeration fans and installing CO2 scrubbers to control the atmosphere in storage rooms at Olds Station.

Controls on refrigeration fans can slow the speed of the fans by as much as 50 percent, thereby improving efficiency. Fan speeds are adjusted regularly based on the demand for refrigeration in each storage room.

The installation of CO2 scrubbers helps control the amount of CO2 inside fruit storage rooms (apples release CO2 as they are stored). NASA developed CO2 scrubbers in the 1960s for the Apollo space program to keep CO2 exhaled by astronauts from reaching high levels in the space capsule. These scrubbers lower carbon dioxide levels in the rooms which significantly reduces Stemilt’s reliance on nitrogen, the traditional way CO2 was purged from rooms.

Together, these improvements help Stemilt realize energy savings of 8,770,190 kWh per year, which equates to $167,000 in utility costs annually and is enough energy to power approximately 400 all-electric homes in Chelan County.

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