An Australian manufacturer is playing a vital role in Woolworths’ sustainability journey. 

Wilson Hot Water has developed technology that enables the supermarket giant and fellow Ai Group member to transform waste heat from its fridges and freezers into store heating. 

The recovered refrigeration waste heat goes into Wilson’s “eco2 Transcritical Heat Recovery Vessel tank where it is converted into heated water that’s pumped around stores to keep shoppers warm. 

This alternative heating method eliminates the need to use natural gas-fired heating systems, thereby reducing associated CO2 emissions, Wilson General Manager Rob Fredericks said. 

“Carbon dioxide transfer is difficult because it uses high-rated temperatures and high pressure,” Mr Fredericks said. 

“Cutting-edge heat-exchange coils (pictured) and other components from Europe within the tanks have made the process possible.” 

With a history that dates back to 1930, Wilson is the country’s leading manufacturer of customised hot water vessels and is the only manufacturer of transcritical CO2 heat-recovery tanks in Australia. 

“We manufacture customised solutions for our clients’ requirements, whether that's size or kilowatts, whether they want to use PV panels to heat the unit or whether they want to store water,” Mr Fredericks said. 

“It’s a unique market without question, but it's a market that's growing. 

“Regulators are closing out certain refrigerants in the HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) market because they’re not good for the environment. 

“That leads to the question: what do you use for the next 20-40 years? 

“Carbon dioxide is a natural refrigerant, and although it generates an incredible amount of excess heat, people are becoming increasingly used to the idea that this waste heat can be effectively harnessed and used. 

“As businesses bring in more efficient heat-generating equipment, they’re thinking about how to store that hot water. That's where our tanks come in.” 

To meet growing demand, Wilson has doubled the size of its factory space in Melbourne. 

“Last year, we acquired, renovated and relocated to a new factory spanning 3500m²,” Mr Fredericks said. 

“We are in the process of constructing two additional buildings on the premises and we’re also in the process of acquiring another business, with the aim of expanding our manufacturing capacity to accommodate larger tanks, reaching capacities of up to 24,000L. 

“We’re in a growth phase, especially with the resurgence of our Australian Made-compliant water heaters which has substantially increased in the past few years.” 

Woolworths has installed the Wilson eco2 tank in 36 stores since 2021.  

“They’re putting our tanks into new stores and retrofitting them into existing ones,” Mr Fredericks said. 

“It’s a terrific project, and it's obviously got a great environmental outcome. 

“It’s only the beginning.” 

Wilson Hot Water has been a member of Ai Group since 2012. 

“The Australian Industry Group is such a resourceful and supportive industry organisation, given compliance is critical in industry and the workplace. Having Ai Group as a partner is very reassuring.” — Rob Fredericks, General Manager, Wilson Hot Water 

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is Communications Manager at the Australian Industry Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, the News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.