The cold storage industry offers refrigeration for various requirements and has a range of services spanning several sectors. However, the most significant usage of cold storage is in the food industry. After harvest, vegetables, fruits, and other perishable items are stored for long periods to extend their shelf-life and keep them fresh. Cold storage has applications in many different industries, such as in the medical sector, to store all manner of medicines, laboratory samples, vaccines, devices, etc. Cold storage has made it possible for organ transplantation to develop and be successful. The technology is even utilized in the petrochemical and high-tech electronics industries since chemical reactions and metals are sensitive to temperature changes. Hotels and restaurants, the liquor industry, and medical facilities related to forensics utilize cold rooms and temperature control systems for storage.
1. Post-Harvest Storage of Products
After fruits and vegetables are harvested, they begin to respire and ripen. To slow down the decay rate, they need to be kept under a lower temperature than average. Cold storage is used to preserve food items through refrigeration and controlled atmosphere rooms- where the concentration of different gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide is maintained closely through precision devices. The cold storage industry offers a wide range of options, from warehouse refrigeration to precision devices and controlled atmosphere storage facilities. Since the production of fruit and vegetable crops happens on a large scale, it is not feasible for them to be marketed all at once. Hence, cold storage allows such perishable foods to be available for more extended periods, prolonging their shelf-life. Humidity also plays an essential role in preserving such foods. Seasonal fruits can last longer nowadays and are no longer available only for a certain number of months.
2. Retail Food Industry
Frozen foods (including meat, poultry, dairy products) are often easy to preserve and do not spoil easily. Frozen foods need to be stored at a maximum of -18C, and frozen food storage can fulfill this requirement only with specific cold storage equipment. The freezers make it possible for frozen food to be stored, transported, and distributed across long distances. It extends the shelf-life of different kinds of meat significantly and is beneficial to meat distributors and handlers. In turn, it helps meat distributors to expand their product range and reduces waste. The relative humidity is also kept at the highest possible measurement to prevent freezer burn and prevent the meat from drying out where its packaging may not be efficient. Various types of frozen foods have different stabilities in frozen storage depending on how long they can stay in storage without developing abnormal flavors and whether they discolor easily. Freezing retains sensory flavors and taste, along with the nutritious value of the product.
3. Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Industry
In the medical field, there are several applications of cold storage. In laboratories, blood samples need to be stored at a particular temperature to retain their specifications. Many different medicines need to be held in medical refrigerators like insulin, chemotherapy medicines, vaccines, eye drops, et cetera. The medicines refrigerator is a standard device in hospitals, medical stores, and clinics with a narrow range of temperature between 2C and 8C. If specific body samples like blood samples and plasma are not kept under closely monitored conditions, they can change properties and become unusable. In healthcare, there are increasing developments with respect to transplants and surgery. An organ needs to be stored and transported at consistent cold temperatures to retain its utility. Skin grafts and tissues are used in plastic and restorative surgeries and have to be kept under closely controlled temperatures. Cold storage has made it possible for such things to be transported across long distances and contributes to saving lives.
4. Brewery and Winery Industries
Wine and beer need a consistent temperature to enhance their taste and retain their quality. Since liquor needs to be stored away from heat or direct sunlight, cold storage is an effective solution for long-term storage. Consistent temperature maximizes the lifespan for these products, along with controlled humidity. The production of wine, beer, and concentrated juice also requires refrigeration. For brewing and winemaking, a controlled fermentation reaction is needed. For example, lager-type beer requires 8 to 12C, whereas wine requires 27-30C. Fruit juice concentrates have become very popular because they cost less and have great nutritional value. They can be preserved for more extended periods than fruits.
5. Chemical and Processing Industries
Industries like petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, and paper-making need large cooling systems. The requirements of each industry are different; hence the refrigeration systems are customized accordingly. The technology is used to separate gases, condensation of gases, dehumidification, solvent recovery, etc. Other similar industries also use the technology of refrigeration for cold treatment of metals
6. The Hospitality Industry
Hotels and restaurants have to serve a considerable number of customers throughout the day. There are numerous ingredients used in dishes served which have to be stored beforehand under cool temperatures. Refrigeration is necessary to keep such ingredients fresh to use in cooking during the day. Beverages and other consumables served in restaurants also need to be stored in refrigerators to keep them fresh. Moreover, hotels need to have personal refrigeration to store sanitary products and keep large reserves at their place for catering larger events.
Cold storage has a range of applications that have made developments for other industries possible. Refrigeration and freezing have allowed the food industry to transform itself. People have easier access to food and many options to choose from when it comes to ready-to-eat meals. Medicine and healthcare are also more accessible, providing rural and remote areas access to modern benefits that were previously limited to a few. Cold storage reduces tonnes of food wastage and is the most efficient way of bulk-handling perishable goods, with the added advantage of being cost-effective to all stakeholders. The numerous applications of the technology are evidence of the practicality of cold storage and how it has made our day-to-day life more manageable.