ATMOsphere Europe 2013: Buoyant market for hydrocarbons in light commercial refrigeration

By Klara Skačanová, Oct 24, 2013, 14:37 3 minute reading

Presentations by leading end users, such as Heineken and Red Bull at ATMOsphere Europe 2013 conference on natural refrigerants, are evidence of a growing trend towards hydrocarbon refrigeration in stand-alone units. With over 480,000 of its propane cabinets installed in European supermarkets, manufacturer AHT Cooling Systems has been receiving positive feedback from end users and is optimistic about the future.

Leading cold drink manufacturers and retailers are accelerating their transition to natural refrigerants in Europe and globally. Red Bull and Heineken who presented at ATMOsphere Europe 2013 held on 15-16 October in Brussels, are both committed to reducing their greenhouse emissions from their cooler fleets and see hydrocarbons as a long-term solutions for their cooling equipment.

About 65% of Heineken’s “Green Fridges” deploy hydrocarbons

Heineken, a global company with over 250 international beers and ciders in its portfolio, has as one of its priorities to embed and integrate sustainability to its strategy and to reduce their carbon footprint, 28% of which is linked to cooling. As a result, Heineken has set itself the target to reduce the CO2 emissions from fridges by 42% by 2015 and by 50% by 2020. This has led to a “Global Fridge” policy whereby Heineken “Green Fridges” have to meet five key criteria, including the use of hydrocarbons (R290 or R600a) as the refrigerant, where legally or technically possible.

According to Maarten ten Houten, as a result of its Green Fridge policy Heineken purchased 130,000 fridges in 2012, about 65% of which were equipped with hydrocarbons. Heineken has also developed the world’s first green draught system that uses R290 as the refrigerant and uses 50 to 70% less energy than regular beer coolers. Lastly, company is also phasing in hydrocarbons for its large draught beer installations, which use 50% less energy than equivalent alternatives.

R600a contributes to 20% energy savings in Red Bulls’ “Eco Coolers”

Another leading end user, Red Bull, has around 457,000 “ECO Coolers”, half of its total cooler fleet, which use hydrocarbons as the refrigerant. Without taking into account additional energy saving features, R600a contributes to energy savings of 20%.

Juergen Brenneis highlighted at ATMOsphere Europe 2013 that the company has a clear commitment to purchase hydrocarbon-based equipment, where it is legally possible and technically feasible.
Our strategy is 100% HC procurement starting from last year already. One exception for us is Japan where we are facing issue to get components, and to get the right sized compressor with hydrocarbons available,” he said.

AHT delivers over 50,000 HC units in Europe each year

According to a presentation by Head of Research and Development at AHT Cooling Systems Reinhold Resch, AHT has since 2006 installed 480,000 R290 cabinets in European supermarkets, including at several stores belonging to leading discount retailer Lidl.
R290 is the best refrigerant for use in ice cream cabinets, bottle coolers and commercial freezers,” said Reinhold Resch.

In 2006 when AHT introduced hydrocarbons and the variable speed compressor to the company’s cabinets there was a major step downwards in the energy consumption. With other improvements like optimised fans and a general improvement of all the components in the cabinet from the sensors to the electronic control, a reduction in the energy consumption in kWh/24h of 50% has been achieved.

AHT delivers more then 50,000 of its hydrocarbon cabinets in Europe every year, with an average of 28 units used in each store. According to Resch the feedback from retailers has been very positive. Retailers have experienced significant energy savings, and a very low failure rate, whilst product temperature is always maintained lower than -18°C.
They [the retailers] feel they have a future proof equipment with natural refrigerants,” said Resch.

By Elke Milner, Journalist


By Klara Skačanová

Oct 24, 2013, 14:37

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