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Lanier Tech shows off refrigeration training program
Royce Glenn, right, director of Lanier Technical College’s ammonia refrigeration program, and instructor Bill Head demonstrate a maintenance and repair procedure on one of the school’s compressors Tuesday afternoon. The program is one of the school’s most successful.

ATLANTA — Lanier Technical College is taking its ammonia refrigeration training program to a larger audience this week.

The college offers the only training program of its kind east of the Mississippi River, and is among the exhibitors at the International Poultry Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center.

"This is the place to show what we have and talk to people one-on-one," said Tim Bala of the Center for Innovation in Manufacturing at Lanier Tech.

Tucked away in the back corner of the college’s Oakwood campus is a working refrigeration system like those used by poultry processing plants. The ammonia refrigerant is the most efficient way to provide subfreezing food storage.

"I haven’t seen anyone in this building who can come close to what we’re doing," Bala said.

The college has offered the ammonia program for 10 years. More than 5,000 students from 45 states and several foreign countries have attended training.

Russell Vandiver, the college’s vice president for economic development, said it brings in $1.5 million each year to Hall County and the state for travel, hotel rooms and meals for visiting students attending the weeklong sessions.

In addition, the program generates annual revenues of $600,000 in tuition fees, which pay the center’s salaries, maintenance and operating expenses.

"Many of our customers come from the poultry industry, and being at the expo is a chance to say thanks for their business," Vandiver said.

Bala said the program stresses the most cost-effective operation of refrigerant systems, which can save companies money at a time when belt-tightening is needed.

"The systems that are out there need to be monitored and operated effectively," Bala said.

"One of the things we stress at Lanier Tech is running them efficiently. You can get things cooled down, but whether you’re doing it efficiently is another question."