UPDATE: Atmosphere 2009: Hydrocarbons in the Spotlight -Part II 

By Sabine Lobnig, Oct 30, 2009, 16:35 6 minute reading

This article provides an overview of the second dedicated workshop session exploring the opportunities for hydrocarbons on the first day of Atmosphere 2009. Presentations were provided by representatives from Embraco, GTZ Proklima and the Green Cooling Association. Presentations now available.

Experiences with hydrocarbon technologies covering a wide spectrum of regions from Europe and China to Australia and South East Asia were discussed at the second dedicated hydrocarbons workshop on the first day of Atmosphere 2009, the international conference on natural refrigerants held in Brussels this week. An overview of presentation by Embraco, GTZ Proklima and the Green Cooling Association is here provided.

Compressors for Light Commercial Refrigeration using Natural Refrigerant - Marek Zgliczynski, Embraco

As part of the focus on its balance with social and environmental dimensions, Embraco has developed natural refrigerant compressors, including R290, R600a and R744. As an indication of the growing importance of hydrocarbons for the company, Zgliczynski illustrated the company’s European sales by type of refrigerant showing that approximately 60% were associated with hydrocarbons in 2008, with all production plants of the company around the world being able to produce alternative refrigerant compressors. With regards to light commercial sales only, he maintained that the respective percentage for hydrocarbons has grown from 0% in 2000 to more than 10% in 2008.

His presentation finally provided an overview of the company’s offering of hydrocarbon compressors and their advantages in terms of energy efficiency when compared to R134a or R404A compressors.

The Potential for HCs as HCFC-22 replacement in air conditioning -Volkmar Hasse, GTZ Proklima

After providing a picture of the historical and forecast production of RAC equipment for domestic consumption in China as well as the 2009 HCFC demand (new equipment and servicing) and HCFC banks in developing countries, Hasse moved on to discuss safety standards and flammability of hydrocarbon ACs. The GTZ Proklima representative drew a parallel to similar discussions conducted already 12 years ago for the case of R600a refrigerators that are now been successfully rolled-out at a large scale in both developed and developing countries. He, therefore, maintained that the success of Greenfreeze Technology diffusion could be repeated for the case of ACs as well. Assuming a diffusion rate based on experiences with R600a Greenfreeze technology, Hasse illustrated the potential of achieving great emissions savings for the case of producing, using and disposing R290 split ACs in China, which by 2022 could slash the associated emissions to a quarter when compared to a business as usual scenario.

He then moved on to discuss the development of R290 room ACs by Gree Electric Appliances Inc, the world’s largest manufacturer of room air conditioners. The R290 AC, which the company plans to start producing at large scale by the end of this year, give higher efficiency than equivalent R22, R407C and R410A products. Hasse then referred to the GTZ-Proklima Demonstration Project in China which aims to introduce the production of R290 room ACs by Gree and establish a best-practice model. He stressed the fact that the project also includes comprehensive training for production and service technicians covering the responsible and safe handling of flammable refrigerants as well as maintenance of the equipment.

Before discussing the market potential for hydrocarbons he referred to policy developments that may translate into sooner and higher market demand for natural refrigerant based solutions, such as the reconsideration of standard EN 378 in Europe or the introduction of RAC industry safety standards in China and the fact that most developing countries have no facilities for the destruction of CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs.

To close his presentation, Hasse advocated that for reasons of energy efficiency and direct emissions reductions there is a great potential for hydrocarbon ACs in tropical countries but also in China, India, Gulf, ASEAN, Latin America, Island States and Africa. The potential will be further reinforced by the expected gap between market demand for ACs and the availability of HCFC ACs due to freeze in 2013.

Australasian Experience with HCs and R744 - Brent Hoare, Green Cooling Association

Hoare initially discussed the Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which covers also HFCs and described it as already having a large impact on selection of new systems, which is expected to become much greater when scheme takes effect (2011). More specifically, the scheme will put a high cost on imports of high GWP refrigerant using an ‘upstream’ approach – large entities will have to acquire emissions permits, while smaller importers will be included through higher import levies in order to achieve same price as the one paid by large importers. The presenter highlighted the fact that the fluorolobby is fighting tooth and nail to win an exemption from the scheme, but assessed that it is very unlikely that the Australian givernment will concede to their demands.

He then moved on to discuss the situation of hydrocarbon technology deployment in Australia. For the case of domestic refrigeration appliances, he maintained that the several imported brands (including Vestfrost, Miele, Liebherr and Bosch) only occupy niche positions in high-end and off-grid markets. However, Electrolux, which owns the only domestic fridge manufacturing facility in Australia, have converted their own brand to Hychill Minus30 (R600a), while the company also plans to introduce HC to their many other brands in near future. Fisher and Paykel have yet to announce a hydrocarbon range.

With regards to hydrocarbon small commercial refrigeration, Hoare maintained that Unilever has distributed 100,000 hydrocarbon ice cream chest freezers since 2007, while other players in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector have not yet embraced the shift to hydrocarbons or CO2, and have objected to the CPRS. He also referred to the Australian experience with hydrocarbons in on farm milk vats, which in spite of excellent results, has only seen a limited use.

Moving on to discuss ACs, he referred to Benson Air Conditioning, which has a wide range of domestic to small commercial systems being marketed nationwide using HyChill “Minus??” R290, Fujin who is actively developing a range of R290 splits and combined hot water units, as well as another Australian company which is actively conudcting R&D that is expected to deliver an innovative and efficient range to the market in about 6 months time.

Hoare then discussed the Australian story with regards to hydrocarbon refrigerants in motor vehicle AC systems, an application for which an estimated 30-35 tonnes of hydrocarbons is provided annually. In Australia, at least one small scale vehicle manufacturer uses HyChill refrigerants in their production, while another manufacturer is seriously considering the issue because of the excellent results being achieved by one of their distributors who converts the systems to hydrocarbons prior to delivery. Moreover, a number of Original Equipment Manufacturer distributors are removing R134a and replacing it with HC prior to delivery of new vehicles, while a number of mining operators have a policy that HFC’s and HCFC’s are prohibited from their site in all vehicles and must be changed to hydrocarbon refrigerants before being brought into service. He finally maintained that the only documented safety incidents in Australia are simply the result of failure to comply with normal workshop safety practices.

Before closing his presentation, Hoare provided an overview of the growing experience with hydrocarbons in South East Asia, where an increasingly significant level of retrofitting of existing systems with hydrocarbons is taking place in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Suppliers in the region include Chatcooling, RedTek Thailand, Coolman Group, Nat Energy Singapore, Hychill Fueltreat Malaysia, Pertamina and Energy Resources Group, while a wide range of systems is involved, impressive energy efficiency gains are being delivered and driving wider use. 


By Sabine Lobnig

Oct 30, 2009, 16:35

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