Natural refrigerants were in the spotlight last week at Mostra Convegno Expoconfort, which saw manufacturers unveil new technologies for a range of CO2 and hydrocarbon refrigeration applications.
Mostra Convegno Expoconfort (MCE), held in Milan on 15-18 March, saw some 2,100 exhibitors and 155,000 attendees from across the world descend upon the Fiera Milano site to discover new innovations in comfort technology and hear about the latest trends sweeping the HVAC&R industry.
Manufacturers showcase CO2 technologies
“We are seeing increased demand for CO2 transcritical systems,” Diego Malimpensa, who manages the retail solutions business unit at Italian manufacturer CAREL, told R744.com at the company’s MCE booth.
Among the CAREL technologies on show were management solutions for all refrigerant applications that use CO2 as either the primary or secondary refrigerant. CAREL’s transcritical CO2 system controllers allow users – such as supermarket managers – to monitor their system remotely from their smartphones. In the event of a problem, maintenance companies can also manage the system remotely, Malimpensa explained.
The controllers can manage up to three suction lines and all stages of operation. They feature devices that automatically close high-pressure valves in the event of power failure.
Malimpensa argues that the efficiency of CO2 transcritical systems in warmer climates will only improve in future as the technology develops.
French firm Carly, meanwhile, was in Milan to showcase equipment for CO2 transcritical systems at two pressures: 64 bars and 140 bars. Among the components on display were filter driers for stopping humidity and acid, mechanical filters for stopping solid particles, discharge motors, and oil filters adapted for use in CO2 systems.
Talking components at Carly's MCE booth
Managing Director Cyrille Berthet said that as a component manufacturer, it was not Carly’s role to decide which refrigerants would be used in the future – but supermarket applications represented the firm’s biggest market for CO2 equipment today.
Berthet expressed optimism that the market for CO2 refrigeration equipment in Europe would grow as the phase-down of HFCs under the EU’s F-Gas Regulation took effect. “We are flexible enough to respond to all requests,” he said.
Over at Danfoss’ booth, Philippe Duchêne – the Danish company’s senior director for sales and marketing – told R744.com about their ‘Smart Store’ concept that had delivered efficiency improvements of up to 50% in some stores by offering integrated control of refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems.
Showcasing the company’s compressor, condensing units, valves and ejector technologies for CO2 refrigeration systems, Duchêne said “the efficiency of our valves and compressors is already very impressive”. Having reached optimal component performance, Danfoss is introducing advanced system control and monitoring tools like the VLT Refrigeration Drive FC 103 to deliver further efficiency gains for compressors, condensers, evaporators and pumps, he explained.
Danfoss showcases CO2 refrigeration components
Market for natural refrigerants growing
Process technology manufacturer GEA presented a new compressor series designed for use with hydrocarbons – the HG44e – alongside its subcritical and transcritical CO2 compressor range.
With the HG44e, “the complete platform is optimised from the efficiency side,” Manuel Fröschle – manager (application engineering) and product manager (natural refrigerants) at GEA – told R744.com at the company’s MCE booth.
Furthering the current trend towards developing new natural refrigerant-based technologies, the HG44e features optimised engine components and special oil filling in order to maximise performance.
GEA's compressors for natural refrigerants
Asked where GEA was seeing the biggest growth in demand for its products, Fröschle said “the big market is definitely supermarkets”. Demand for smaller compressors for use in medium-sized supermarkets and small convenience stores is particularly strong, he explained.
Fröschle sees natural refrigerants as efficient, cost-effective and climate-friendly solutions in the long term, with ammonia likely to remain a key focus of industrial applications.
Also on show at the GEA booth was the compressor model EX-HG88e – the largest GEA compressor that is suitable for use in hazardous environments. GEA is the first and only European manufacturer to offer semi-hermetic compressors for zone 1 and 2 ATEX- and recently also IECEx-certified.
“Over the past three years, we have improved the efficiency and reliability of our complete CO2 range, as well as improving their running behaviour and extending their operating limits with an increase of condensing and evaporating temperatures in the subcritical CO2 compressors,” Fröschle said.
K65 in the spotlight
Meanwhile, Wieland and Conex Bänninger – part of the IBP Group – were at MCE to showcase the K65 tube system for high-pressure applications. K65 is a high-pressure pipe system developed in response to increasing use of CO2 as a refrigerant – particularly in supermarket applications.
“We see our K65 range of high pressure commercial tube fittings as another big opportunity for increased sales, due to huge growth in the commercial refrigeration market,” said Francesco Mocella, Italian Sales Director for Conex Bänninger.