Signalling growing penetration of propane-based (R290) HVAC&R systems in China’s commercial food retail market, Austrian-based OEM AHT exhibited R290 cabinets at its first own-branded booth at ChinaShop, the 2018 edition of which was held on 1-3 November in Kunming, China.

According to Jonas Chen, general manager, AHT Cooling Systems (Changshu), interest in and sales of AHT’s R290 solutions are growing in China due to propane’s energy efficiency and a growing focus on environmental sustainability among market leaders.

Chen told this website that the company is currently in discussion with some of the “top ten big players” in China’s food retail business to purchase R290 cabinets, though he did not reveal names.

Asked why these customers were interested in propane, Chen replied, “they want to take the lead and set a good example for others, saying ‘as a retailer we care about reducing energy consumption and environmental sustainability’.”

All of the cabinets on display at the exhibition boasted a rating of ‘Level 1’ on the China Energy Label (CEL) – an energy consumption label for products in China similar to the European Union energy label.

Chen said that it is very rare for a product to achieve the highest energy-efficiency rating. He attributes AHT’s score to a combination of using propane alongside variable speed drives.

“We are very happy,” Chen said, “because not many equipment providers can provide ‘Level 1’ plug-in units. But we already have a whole series of these models here”.

In addition, AHT was exhibiting its waterloop system. The firm is striving to educate its customers on the system’s benefits over central or remote refrigeration systems – including simplified and shortened installation processes and increased flexibility for store owners compared to centralised or remote refrigeration systems.

Hydrocarbon charge limit increase

Chen added that the company is closely monitoring the possible increase of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) charge limit on A3 refrigerants in commercial refrigeration equipment from 150g to 500g.

Chen said that should the limit increase, it will have a positive affect on the uptake of AHT’s larger R290 cabinets in China.

“For our bigger [R290] systems, normally we need a charge of around 400g,” said Chen.

“To comply with current regulations, we have to have three independent [refrigerant] circuits – which means we have three compressors and three systems running, which increases the cost of the whole unit. It also increases the complexity of the system.”

“So if the limit is increased to 500 grams, we can use just one system to cover one unit. That will make everything more simple easier to use. It will really bring us a lot of advantages, so we are really eager see what happens,” Chen said.

ChinaShop 2018: AHT exhibits R290 systems

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