“Propane [chillers are] cheaper compared to other natural refrigerants,” said Manuela Rallo, sales area manager at Italian manufacturer Tecnofreddo, at Refrigera 2019 (held in Piacenza, Italy on 20-22 February 2019). “We have sold some for process cooling.”

The cost of propane chillers compared to ammonia, for example, can be 1.5 or two times less expensive, according to Rallo. 

Technofreddo’a propane chullers, which primarily serve the -4°C to -8°C temperature range, and have been installed in the UK, Switzerland and Austria. “We have a new partner in the Netherlands [for] process cooling” in industrial manufacturing sites, she said.

Tecnofreddo uses components for hydrocarbons, such as micro-channel heat exchangers, to keep the charge low, ensuring safety. “We would like to expand propane chillers,” Rallo said.

Propane chiller manufacturer Euroklimat, also present at Refrigera, finds cost to be the biggest barrier.

The reason uptake has been slow, says Massimiliano Graziloi, key account manager at Euroklimat, is the higher price of propane chillers compared to HFC-based models still on the market.

Comfort cooling customers, Graziloi argues, generally prefer cheaper systems to high-end technological products. “We are producing efficient [chillers] and selling outside [the Italian market],” he said. “[In Italy] they don’t differentiate in the quality of goods between low/high tech,” he said.

Italian company Industrial Frigo, which has long experience in propane chillers and installed eight 650 kW propane chillers at UK retailer the Co-operative Group’s headquarters in Manchester in 2012, was also present at Refrigera.

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