As part of a UNIDO project implemented in Vietnam, R290 units were installed in four companies to replace previous R22-based systems. With its innovative financing scheme and effective mixture of policy support, technology transfer and awareness-raising, the project is paving the way for wider uptake of small hydrocarbon refrigeration systems in the fishery and cold storage sectors worldwide.
In 2014, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) initiated a project entitled ‘Reducing greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance emissions through technology transfer in industrial refrigeration’. In collaboration with Vietnamese government and industry partners for technology and communication (Zanotti, shecco) the project’s three components – policy and regulatory support, technology transfer, and awareness-raising and capacity-building – were designed to reinforce each other in providing the necessary tools for successful use of hydrocarbons in industrial refrigeration systems.
As a potential model to emulate for future effective Public-Private Partnerships, the two-year project was only partly funded by the UN’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Using co-financing contributions from the two industry partners, the Vietnamese government and UNIDO, the project was conducted in a cost-effective manner while delivering high-quality results.
Pilot projects showcase propane applications for Vietnam
Following field trips to cold stores throughout the country in 2014, R290 (propane) demonstration units were installed in four Vietnamese companies. A full conversion at the Phu Minh Hung Seafood Joint Stock Company, with a total of nine R290 refrigeration units, was complemented by partial conversions in three other cold storage sites featuring another 16 hydrocarbon units.
The equipment, containing just 1.6 kg of hydrocarbon refrigerant per unit, reduces the risk of fire to a minimum, while providing the necessary cooling capacity for keeping small cold room temperatures to -20 degrees Celsius at ambient temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius. Compared to larger ammonia-based systems, the hydrocarbon units were expected to reduce installation costs to a fraction of those of NH3 systems.
Average energy efficiency gains of 20-25%
After 11 months in operation, expectations have not just been met, but exceeded by far. With average energy efficiency gains of 20-25%, the four pilot projects – one of which has even achieved energy savings of up to 42% compared to the previous R22-based system – are serving as a model to follow for the conversion of more cold stores across the country.
Gaining in confidence, Vietnam’s government is now envisaging the use of natural refrigerants in other sectors, according to Nguyen Thi My Hoang, national project coordinator on behalf of the Vietnamese government. To facilitate this, the country has issued new regulations on controlling and phasing out HCFCs and introduced a law on the efficient use of energy, while planning additional funding to support the uptake of natural refrigerants elsewhere.