ANVERS ISLAND, Jul. 3, 2013
Carrier Transicold container refrigeration units have been enlisted in an unconventional application, serving as stationary freezers in support of environmental researchers working in one of the most remote parts of the world – Antarctica. Carrier Transicold helps improve global transport and shipping temperature control with a complete line of equipment for refrigerated trucks, trailers and containers, and is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
Mounted on 20-foot containers, two ThinLINE® refrigeration units are in service at Palmer Station, a small U.S. scientific environmental research base located along the rocky shoreline of Anvers Island, just west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Protecting food supplies year round, they provide a vital service for a small, transient population that ebbs and flows each year as new teams of scientists change with the seasons.
“The two milvans sit side by side near our main building and are used strictly for food storage,” said Robert Farrell, Palmer Station area manager, Antarctic Support Contract, the prime logistical contractor to the U.S. Antarctic Program. “Milvan” or just “van” – short for military van – is the nickname the staff has given to the refrigerated storage units at the station. The two units can hold a six- to eight-month supply of food for the station, according to Farrell.
While the climate is consistently cold at Palmer Station, the research station is situated north of the Antarctic Circle making it relatively mild compared to the international research operations that ring the continent at latitudes further south. Thanks to the warmer ocean water, winter temperatures at Palmer Station average 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius), seldom dropping below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius). During the research season, temperatures average 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).
However, reliable refrigeration is essential for the Palmer Station population, which ranges from a low of 16 staff in winter to as many as 44 in the austral summer. Researchers stay in dormitory-style bedrooms and eat in a cafeteria-style dining hall with a small kitchen and walk-in freezer, supported by the two ThinLINE-equipped freezer containers located nearby.
Concrete blocks and a steel and wooden deck support the Palmer Station milvans, which have wooden storage shelves inside. The ThinLINE units are set to maintain internal temperatures at -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius). “The freezers store beef, poultry, vegetables, fruit and ice cream – everything you would keep in a normal freezer,” Farrell said.
With hundreds of thousands of units in service around the world, the ThinLINE unit is ubiquitous in marine shipping applications. Although seafaring refrigerated containers are sometimes retired into landside service for portable refrigerated storage, the purchase of new units for use on land, as in the Palmer Station application, is not typical.
“The vast majority of Carrier Transicold container units help to safely transport food across the oceans,” said Kartik Kumar, director, marketing and strategic planning, Global Container Refrigeration, Carrier Transicold. “The installation of ThinLINE units at Palmer Station is helping to support the important ecological research initiatives of the scientists, who in turn, are helping us to better understand our world and environment.”
Palmer Station has been in operation for about 45 years and since 1990 has been part of the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research Program, a multi-disciplinary program that studies the effects of changing sea ice cover on the region’s ecosystem, including marine bacteria, plankton and seabirds. On-site instruments measure seismic activity, atmospheric characteristics and radio waves. Less than a mile away, on Torgersen Island, Palmer Station’s solar-powered “penguin cam” keeps watch on a colony of 2,500 Adélie penguins.
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