UPDATE: ATMOsphere Asia 2014 provides showcase for latest R744 commercial refrigeration technologies

By Silvia Scaldaferri, May 22, 2014, 10:47 4 minute reading

The first-ever ATMOsphere Asia 2014, organised 3-5 February, in Tokyo, Japan, provided a showcase for some of the most advanced CO2 commercial refrigeration technologies to be developed by Japanese companies. The increasing number of CO2 solutions offered in the Japanese commercial refrigeration market, a trend already evident at HVAC&R Japan 2014, demonstrates the increasing innovation and competition in this market, with solutions being offered by Panasonic, SANDEN an

In his opening remarks Marc Chasserot, shecco Managing Director and ATMOsphere Asia 2014 Chairman, highlighted the dynamism of the commercial refrigeration market in Japan:
Japan has always been a technology leader in natural refrigerants. Last week we were able to get a glimpse of new trends with regards to commercial refrigeration at HVAC&R Japan. We saw many new companies offering new solutions to the supermarket segment here in Japan. When you combine that with legislation and new funding programmes developed by METI and MOE, you can expect this trend to grow.”

Reiterating this message, Pega Hrjak, from the University of Illinois, said that the use of CO2 as a natural refrigerant is the most active research and development area in the field. Whilst heat pump water heaters were the first most successful application of CO2 transcritical technology, today this know-how is expanding into supermarkets and convenience stores.

The next big thing: small footprint CO2 commercial refrigeration systems for convenience stores

With regards to one of the key areas of R&D in the CO2 commercial refrigeration sector, Carel’s Michael Englebright explained that Japan has a lot of experience in small forecourts and convenience stores (CVS), as opposed to Europe where traditionally larger supermarket format stores have been standard. Given the rapid evolution of the European CVS market, growing particularly rapidly in the UK, where there are already in excess of 8000 CVS, and the revised EU F-Gas Regulation, there is an opportunity to learn from Japan’s experience in small footprint CO2 refrigeration.

Designed for the CO2 CVS market, Englebright presented Carel’s high pressure proportional stepper valves, whilst Gaku Shimada from Panasonic, presented the company’s complete small format CO2 commercial refrigeration system. This system consists of:

  • Cooling module: 10HP outdoor unit with a compressor linked to an oil cooler and intercooler and oil separator, a gas cooler, split heat exchanger and refrigerant reserve tank separator.
  • CO2 compressor: the split cycle 2HP compressor has two-stage compression and an economizer to increase the system efficiency
  • Master Controller

Watch our exclusive interview with Gaku Shimada:

Monitored energy consumption data has revealed that the CO2 CVS system achieves 26% annual energy savings in Miyagi, Japan whilst in the warmer city of Okinawa the measured energy savings are 10%.

CO2 systems can perform better than HFCs if the system is optimised for CO2,” said Gaku Shimada, Panasonic.

Yukio Yamaguchi, presented Sanden’s CO2 solution for CVS, a cascade system with a cooling capacity of 2 – 9 kW. The CVS CO2 system has the following components:

  • Cooling module: multi-compressor system and all aluminium gas cooler
  • CO2 compressors: high efficiency, low noise and vibration, high reliability
  • Multi control system: to control the cooling modules and showcases

Thanks to the smaller diameter copper tubing used, the CO2 system has reduced material costs, and in testing has achieved an average of 29% in energy savings compared to a conventional HFC system.

Japanese CO2 booster system for medium and large supermarkets

For larger format stores, Katsuhiko Harada from Nihon Netsugen Systems presented a prototype CO2 transcritical booster system consisting of transcritical and subcritical compressors. The advantage of this system is that one unit can cool both medium temperature and low temperature cabinets, whilst creating hot water by way of heat recovery.

Nihon began testing such a system in 2013 to verify the COP, cooling speed, operation under hot summer conditions, the heat recovery function and the CO2 safety devices. Nihon has partnered with cabinetmaker Fukushima Industries, and is currently into its third phase of testing at the Fukishima factory.

The first supermarket installation is planned for 2014, but before then Nihon will investigate how to improve the system’s summer COP, testing the cabinet performance in up to 40°C temperatures.

CO2 systems for warm climates

Whilst shecco’s Nina Masson and Carel’s Michael Englebright talked briefly about the technologies being developed to improve the efficiency of CO2 transcritical technology in warm climates, Shinichirou Uto from Lawson, provided concrete evidence of this technology trend, when he announced that on 7 February Lawson would open their first CO2 transcricial store in Jakarta.

Watch our exclusive interview with Michael Englebright from CAREL:

Latest developments in CO2 vending machine sector

In the light commercial refrigeration sector, the market for CO2 vending machines is developing a pace, thanks to the decision by leading soft drinks manufacturer The Coca-Cola Company to purchase only CO2 units. Partnering with Sanden, all of whose vending machines now use CO2, The Coca-Cola Company Japan is now able to purchase only HFC-free new equipment in Japan. This includes some of the most advanced CO2 vending machine technology like the Peakshift Vending Machine, awarded the Energy Conservation Grand Prize by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).



By Silvia Scaldaferri

May 22, 2014, 10:47

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