The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s OzonAction are welcoming applications to their annual Lower GWP Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Innovation Awards.

Submissions are due by December 31, 2022.

According to a statement from ASHRAE, the awards celebrate individuals’ contribution to “innovative design, research and practice” in low-GWP refrigeration and space cooling in developing countries.

Developing countries are as listed in Article 5, Paragraph 1 of the Montreal Protocol fund, said the organization.

The awards consist of two categories – residential and commercial/industrial applications – and each year, up to 10 projects are selected.

Previous winners of the awards include projects based on propane (R290), CO2 (R744) and ammonia/NH3 (R717).

“We must support and recognize innovative efforts that seek to minimize negative impacts on our environment,” said Farooq Mehboob, ASHRAE President from 2022 to 2023 and Fellow Life Member. “ASHRAE is proud to continue our partnership with UNEP OzonAction to sponsor this award in support of pioneering refrigerant technologies that will play a crucial role in our global marketplace and help us to achieve important climate management goals.”

Impact of low-GWP refrigerants

Submitted projects will be judged by an international panel of refrigerant experts that has been selected by the awards’ organizers. Projects will be assessed on the level of innovation relating to the use of low-GWP refrigerants, the “extent of need” and the environmental impact achieved by the project, with specific reference to the refrigerant’s GWP.

Judges will also look at the replicability and scalability of the project in terms of technology and finance.

Winning entries will be announced at Montreal Protocol related events next year.

ASHRAE will also partner with UNEP to disseminate information about the winning projects to specialists and government officials in developing countries to “raise awareness of successful technology applications,” said the organization.

“The First Place recipients will [get] a stipend to receive their award at a [UNEP] event,” it added.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first year the awards have taken place since 2019. Submissions for the 2020 award will be included in the judging of this year’s entries.

“Those who submitted entries for 2020 will be allowed and [are] encouraged to update those entries if desired,” said ASHRAE.

Previous NatRef winners

In 2019, three of the five winning projects used only natural refrigerants, including a low-charge propane chiller for commercial refrigeration in Brazil.

“The goal of this project was to develop a natural refrigerant refrigeration system to use in supermarkets,” explained ASHRAE. “The propane chiller cools a secondary fluid – glycol – which is then used to cool medium-temperature cabinets and cold rooms. For low-temperature cabinets and cold rooms, CO2 is condensed by the same glycol.”

Other winning natural refrigerant projects that year included a residential low-charge ammonia vapor compression refrigeration system in India and a commercial/industrial transcritical CO2 refrigeration system for hot and humid climates in Thailand.