Mackie’s invests £4.5m in Scotland’s most advanced freezer system

A £4.5m low carbon refrigeration system that will enable an ice cream brand to cut energy use by up to 80% has taken a significant step forward towards completion.

Mackie’s of Scotland has installed a six metre tall, double drum spiral freezer. The new freezer can chill more ice cream more quickly, which will further improve the quality and texture of the product.

The two spiral drums – that stretch five metres in diameter – are part of the £4.5m low carbon refrigeration system, which will increase ice cream productivity on the Aberdeenshire farm.

It comes after the completion of the plant room which saw successful test runs of its four new ammonia compressors last month as the family-run business aims to become the greenest company in Britain.

Project Manager, Yzanne Turbett, said, “The installation of the spiral freezer marks a major milestone in this project. In our early planning phase we had no inclination of the problems which the country would face last year and the building work was indeed delayed at the start of the first lockdown.

“Despite these ongoing challenges we have managed to finish our plant room which contains the core of the new refrigeration system that will be fully operational later this year.

“This is a much more complex project than Mackie’s has ever taken on before, with so many different aspects to the build and new technology to be implemented.

The freshly filled, ice cream tubs will enter the new spiral freezer at the base of one drum, spiral up to the top, pass to the top of the second drum and spiral down to the bottom of the second drum and the outlet. The new freezer can reduce the temperature of the ice cream, at the rate of almost 7,000 litres of ice cream per hour, from -4 °C to -18 °C. The rapid cooling in the freezer has benefits for both the texture and consistency of the finished product.

Installation of a new biomass system in the next phase for the construction project as the system will eventually use biomass heat in the ammonia based refrigeration plant.

The first of its kind in Scotland, the entire project, due to be finally completed by Autumn this year, is targeting ambitious CO2 savings of up to 80% and energy costs of 70-80%. It is this and the innovative combination of proven technology, which will create an exemplar facility for the Scottish food industry, and successfully qualified the project for support of a £2.05 million grant from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

The Scottish Government support, part-funded by the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund programme, will be matched by investment of more than £2.5 million by Mackie’s.

Mackie’s already produces more than 10 million litres of ice cream every year. Its renewable energy is derived from a mix of wind, solar and biomass energy that produce over 8.5 MWh of electricity each year.