Novel panel connects different perspectives on natural refrigerants at ATMOsphere America 2013

By Janaina Topley Lira, Jul 03, 2013, 18:23 3 minute reading

For the first time at ATMOsphere America, the programme included a Supply Chain Panel gathering various different perspectives from across the spectrum of natural refrigerant suppliers to end users. Discussion between The Coca-Cola Company, Emerson Climate Technologies, Linde Canada, CTA, GCCA and RSES focused on the regulatory burden on end users, as well as on the importance of knowledge sharing and collaborative projects.

Live Polling and panel discussions highlight a need to reduce regulatory burden
During the supply chain panel, conference participants were invited to take part in live polling, providing instant feedback to the question: what is the most important driver for moving the natural refrigerants market forward in North America? Over a third of those who took part believed that introducing favourable standards and regulation is key, followed closely by reducing the cost of natural refrigerant systems.
Lowell Randel of GCCA (Global Cold Chain Alliance) confirmed this assessment, stating during the panel discussions that he believed that standards have the most significant impact on natural refrigerant uptake. With regards to ammonia in particular, Lowell said there is a high regulatory burden on end users in the U.S.
In addition, Jim Flowers, from Linde Canada, said “We find, from the refrigerant side of the business, the regulatory market in the U.S. is a real detriment to selling hydrocarbon refrigerants in the U.S. and natural refrigerants in general, ”
According to Flowers, although Linde has been selling CO2 as a refrigerant since the early 1900s, it remains a niche product representing less than 1% of Linde's global sales for CO2. The logistics of supplying natural refrigerants are complicated because the volumes are so small, due in part to the regulatory burden on suppliers and end users.
Growing acceptance of natural refrigerants across all sectors
Sam Gladis, from Emerson Climate Technologies said that he sees a growing recognition of the benefits of natural refrigerants in Europe, which in turn are gradually being adopted in the U.S. as well. 
Mark Lowry of RSES, held similar views, stating that there was a much larger market potential for natural refrigerant training; however, he made the point that outside the refrigeration sector, training and certification is still a largely voluntary process with an “abysmally low” number of technicians getting training and certified. 
Different natural refrigerants for the light commercial refrigeration sector
During the panel discussions, Sam Gladis said, “There is no one refrigerant that is the best refrigerant for all applications.” This was clearly emphasised in the discussions between The Coca Cola Company and conference participants regarding the choice of refrigerant for use in commercial refrigeration applications.
The Coca-Cola Company is investing heavily in CO2 refrigeration technology for its 12 million units of point of sale equipment. Although Coca-Cola has hydrocarbon (HC) point of sale equipment in Europe and Japan, according to Antoine Azar, COis considered better suited to the company’s varied portfolio of point of sale equipment. Coca Cola faces some challenges, such as sourcing enough compressors and heat exchangers to cover their purchasing needs. Although the company has an agreement with Sanden to supply compressors, so far these are only produced in China.
Red Bull on the other hand, is using hydrocarbons in its point of sale equipment and is hoping that R600a will also soon be approved for point of sale equipment in North America.
Knowledge sharing key to further uptake of natural refrigerants
Robert Arthur of CTA, said he sees a greater acceptance of natural refrigerants in North America and that knowledge sharing is key to natural refrigerant projects. Within the Carpinteria project for the all-natural store for example, CTA acted as a hub, pulling information together. By bringing together information from Mayekawa, Hillphoenix, Danfoss, Carel, and other project partners into one set of construction documents that the contractors could bid off, CTA helped to ensure that everyone knew what their scope of work was, helping to smooth the transition to natural refrigerants.


By Janaina Topley Lira

Jul 03, 2013, 18:23

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