Natural refrigerant products, especially heat pumps, had a strong presence at the Busworld conference, the annual meeting on buses and coaches that took place in Brussels, Belgium from October 18-23.

These products tie in well with the unofficial theme of this year’s show, bus electrification, which is impacting vehicle design.

Today, e-buses represent 18% of all buses worldwide (compared to 7% in 2015), according to a BloombergNEF report published in May this year. According to the report, global sales for e-buses are expected to grow at a rate of 33.5% annually until 2025. Most of these e-buses still use R134a for cooling, but as the drive towards phasing down HFCs intensifies globally, natural refrigerants such as R290 and CO2 are becoming popular alternatives. Natural refrigerant heat pumps offer the ability to extend the driving range of electric vehicles.

As such, it was no surprise that natural refrigerant products, particularly heat pumps, had a strong presence at the show. Even at the Busworld Awards, which took place on October 17, German GEA Bock’s StarCO2mpressor compressor for heat pumps was honored with an Innovation Label. According to GEA, the units offer “the industry’s lowest overall height and the lowest weight.”

Natural refrigeration innovation at its best  

Other than GEA’s winning product, here are some other natural refrigerant product highlights from Busworld: — Area Cooling Solutions (headquartered in Barcelona, Spain) presented its R744 Panasonic C-CV753L0U compressor for train passenger cabins, equipped with an inverter specific for e-bus applications.  

— Italy-based Dorin showcased its brand-new transcritical CO2 BOXÉR compressor range for mobile HVAC applications such as trains and e-buses. These units are compact and work in heat- pump mode to achieve high heating and cooling capacities. 

— Germany-based Valeo presented its REVO-E HP R744 as a world first: an all-electric, zero emission HVAC unit specifically designed for buses with alternative drives. This electric rooftop HVAC unit with a heat-pump function operates more efficiently, under a wide range of ambient conditions, providing a large heating capacity with less energy consumption. 

— Dutch HeaVac (part of the German Aurora Group) showcased its Roof Heat Pump Borealis 2.0 prototype using a 1.5kg (3.3lbs) R290 charge. This zero-emission hot/cold water module is also targeting e-mobility with a standard cooling capacity of 23kW (6.5TR) and a heating capacity of 16kW (4.5TR). 

— The German company Konvekta simultaneously invented the first mobile climate- and heat-pump system operating with CO2 back in 2013, winning the Busworld Innovation Label in 2013 and 2015. This year, it displayed multiple variants of the Konvekta CO2 heat-pump range. 

— German-Dutch Waeco-Dometic displayed its first ASC 7400 G service unit for CO2. It reliably monitors the pressure conditions inside the service unit and HVAC system to eliminate potential dangers. It also automatically inspects the ambient air in the workshop to make sure it’s breathable.  

The next installment of the show, Busworld Turkey, takes place from March 5-7, 2020 in the in Istanbul.

Busworld in numbersExhibition space: 
79,000m2 (850,349ft2)
Exhibitors: 511 
Exhibitor countries: 37
Visitors: 39,798 
Visitor countries: 143

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