P.G.Rix Farms Limited,

The customer

P.G Rix is a family farming business based in the Essex/Suffolk border. The Rix family have been farming since 1951, specialising in growing onions, potatoes, sugar beet and cereal crops.

The brief

To expand their crop storage facilities, two new 2,280 tonne onion stores were built at their Colchester site.

The installation was completed to a very high standard and commissioned in time to cool down the 2018 crop.

P.G.Rix Farms Limited

The solution

To serve the new onion stores, JD Cooling designed, installed, and commissioned a bespoke ‘HFC free’, secondary cooling system using Food Safe glycol as the primary refrigerant.


Unlike other crops, when it comes to fresh produce storage, onions require unique conditions.



Most importantly, they need low humidity in order to be successfully stored for long periods.


With this in mind, we designed a cutting-edge solution to enable the client’s onions to be stored at zero Celsius, whilst factoring in the need for the cooling coils to sit as close to minus 10 Celsius.


The demand for defrosting coils is a major part of the overall storage running cost for many other growers. In a typical system using electric heater rods to defrost the ice, it takes a huge amount of electrical energy to get the whole coil warm enough for the defrosting process.


In addition, during defrost the coil becomes so hot that steam is released into the room and will later have to be removed again by the refrigeration system, using yet more energy.



Wanting to keep running costs low for the customer, we have designed a process whereby waste heat from cooling the crop is reused to defrost the coils “for free”.  This type of defrost is very “gentle” and does not produce the steaming effect, which is present on the traditional system.


Other Highlights

  • Electrical control wiring (JD Power) installed from our bespoke control panels to coolers, pumps, valves, controls, sensors, and compressor/chiller plant.
  • Propane chiller with a compartment for the compressor which is classed as an ATEX Zone 2 area.
  • Automatic venting & top-up system to maintain system operating pressure and provide a charging point for glycol.
  • Stainless steel pipework.
  • Buffer tank.
  • Primary and secondary glycol pump circuits.


Customer Satisfaction

John Rix of P.G.Rix Farms commented, “The installation was completed to a very high standard and commissioned in time to cool down the 2018 crop. We are optimistic to be able to report significant energy savings once we have completed our full season.”


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