The refrigeration industry plays a major role in the global economy and has significant contributions in the energy and environmental domains which stakeholders need to better take into account. In particular, the electricity consumption for refrigeration and air conditioning increased over the last few years, reaching about 17% of the electricity worldwide used, and it is expected to further grow. In cold chains, an accurate refrigeration is required to ensure an optimal preservation of perishable goods and, in the food sector, it can be responsible for up to 85% of the total energy consumption, depending on the specific foodstuff considered. Refrigeration has relevant adverse effects on the environment. It is responsible of direct emissions due to leakage of fluorocarbons, and indirect emissions produced by fossil fuel power plants. Energy efficiency improvements of refrigeration systems represent a noteworthy solution for reducing the environmental impacts and can be obtained by investing in new and more efficient technologies, or by implementing simple and less expensive maintenance and operational practices. In addition to energy savings, and the consequent reduction of energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, these measures have the potential to introduce multiple benefits, such as reduced operation and maintenance costs, and improved reliability and productivity. This work aims to investigate possible eco-efficient solutions related to the refrigeration systems and to briefly evaluate the related barriers and benefits. In particular, the study will be based on a holistic perspective on the life cycle of the perishable products which considers the whole cold chains including transport and storage activities.
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