“Great potential for CO2 in South Africa” - Interview with M. Bellstedt

By R744.com team, Jan 05, 2010, 18:28 4 minute reading

Australia's specialist designers of CO2-based refrigeration systems, eCO2 Technologies, are involved in a South African CO2 supermarket project. R744.com talked to Managing Director Michael Bellstedt about fine-tuning the R744 plant, and about the chances South African HVAC&R industry will leap-frog HFCs to use natural refrigerants.

eCO2 Technologies is involved in one of two CO2 projects for Pick and Pay, sponsored by GTZ. What kind of system is it?

Michael Bellstedt: The system is an ammonia/glycol/CO2 refrigeration system for a large supermarket, consisting of an ammonia plant with three Grasso reciprocating compressor to generate chilled propylene glycol/water (-8°C) which is recirculated via pumps to all medium temperature cooling systems in the supermarket (cool-rooms, refrigerated cases) and provides cooling to the CO2 condensers. A CO2 system provides CO2 to all low temperature cooling systems in the supermarket (freezer rooms, freezer cases). The CO2 and ammonia plant is located in a roof-mounted plant room, adjacent to an evaporative condenser for the ammonia plant. Only chilled glycol and CO2 are circulated to the supermarket space whilst the ammonia is restricted to the plant room area on the roof and poses no risk to store staff and customers.

What are the advantages, results, reactions regarding this project?

Bellstedt: The main advantage of the system design is that it eliminates entirely the use of environmentally damaging synthetic refrigerants from the supermarket. Results to date have been excellent, with good performance of all refrigerated fixtures to the full satisfaction of the client, although of course long term experience is yet to be gained. Reactions from store staff and operators were very open-minded, although this design concept represents a significant move away from the old R-22 based technology previously used at the store. Local refrigeration technicians involved in the installation and commissioning have been enthusiastic and welcomed the opportunity to experience new and clean technologies.

What are your future plans as regards R744 and natural refrigerants in general?

Bellstedt: eCO2 Technologies sees great potential for natural refrigerants in South Africa, where the use of HCFCs is still common, and HFCs are only beginning to make their appearance. There is a readiness in South Africa to skip the HFC step and adopt natural refrigerants instead. eCO2 Technologies shall expand its operations into South Africa during 2010, to assist the local industry with the adoption of in particular CO2 for commercial and industrial applications. As eCO2 Technologies is based in Australia, with a very similar range of climatic conditions to those found in South Africa, we are in a good position to provide suitable products and designs to best suit the South African market.

How is the situation today in South Africa regarding the use of CO2?

Bellstedt: The use of CO2 is still in its infancy. However, the South African Government has progressive environmental policies which will assist to create a favourable situation for the adoption of all natural refrigerants in that country. Assuming commercial pressures can be addressed, by adapting the technologies to South African conditions, there will be a good market for natural refrigerant technologies in South Africa.

One key issue that will need to be addressed in South Africa and in many other developed and developing countries, is the critical shortage of training programs and facilities for natural refrigerants.

In your opinion, how will the South African HVAC market evolve? Are natural refrigerants a trend for the future?

Bellstedt: Yes, I believe they certainly are. A few key factors favour the adoption of natural refrigerants in South Africa:

1. South Africa has not yet adopted HFCs and local technicians would need to undergo training in these gases, and these “new” gases. There is an eagerness to skip the HFC step and move directly to a final solution.

2. Environmental awareness, in particular on government level, is high, and the disadvantages of HFC refrigerants in terms of their environmental impact is well understood. The synthetic refrigerants lobby, unlike in other countries such as USA and Australia, is not as well-funded and focal and has not succeeded in spreading disinformation on the “advantages” of HFCs or the “dangers” of natural refrigerants

3. South Africa is in many respects a first-world country with an advanced industry and manufacturing base, and it is well placed to localize natural refrigerant technologies without the need for expensive import of systems.

4. Natural refrigerants are cheap and locally available in adequate quality, a major benefit in a developing country.

My view is that several key market leaders, such as Pick &Pay and Woolworths will push hard to find solutions that are commercially viable, and will conduct trials on these technologies in the very near future. Wider industry adoption will follow, especially if this is supported and encouraged by government.


By R744.com team (@r744)

Jan 05, 2010, 18:28

Related stories

Sign up to our Newsletter

Fill in the details below