“Explosion of interest” in CO2 in Brazil - exclusive interview BITZER Brazil

By Janaina Topley Lira, Aug 14, 2012, 11:12 7 minute reading

With over 20 CO2 installations across the country, BITZER Brazil engineer Alessandro da Silva spoke to R744.com about the rapid increase in interest in CO2 refrigeration by retailers in Brazil at the 10th Gustav Lorentzen Conference on Natural Refrigerants. Key drivers for change are energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

R744.com: BITZER Brazil is leading the way when it comes to CO2 transcritical in the Americas, can you tell us more about your recent installation? 
AS: Yes, we have the first installation in a training center, the first of its kind in the Americas. Our intention is to provide enough information for our customers and partners about CO2 solutions, and mainly CO2 transcritical applications, which are pretty new at the moment. 

R744.com: What do you see as the future potential for CO2 transcritical in a country like Brazil with a high ambient temperature? 

AS: Brazil, as you know, is considered a hot climate country. In the north of the country we have average temperatures of around 27°C to 30°C throughout of the year. Therefore we intended to start with transcritical applications in the south, and by south I mean from São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul, where we have average temperatures of around 20°C throughout the year. 

R744.com: Are CO2 secondary and cascade systems more optimal solutions for the rest of Brazil? Do you see these CO2 technologies gaining momentum or success?

AS: Yes. Since 2009, when BITZER introduced the first CO2 cascade application, it seems that there was an explosion in interest because now every customer, every supermarket, wants to have CO2 as a refrigerant in their installations. So we intend to sell even more CO2 in subcritical systems using R134a in what we call a hybrid solution, or using pumped CO2 for medium temperature applications. These are two kinds of technology available now. 
R744.com What is it that is created this “explosion in interest”? What is driving interest from the supermarkets like Verdemar and Condor in CO2 solutions? 

AS: CO2 is not new. End-users and OEMs all know that CO2 has been used for a very long time, mainly in Europe and in the US, but I think it is now Brazil’s time with CO2 and so people are very excited to use this technology. Using CO2 means using a green solution. It’s sustainable so everybody wants to use CO2 because in 2013, R22, which is the most used refrigerant in supermarkets in Brazil, will be forbidden. This is the ideal time to introduce CO2. In my view all R22 installation owners intend to switch to CO2 this year or next year. 
R744.com: So environmental sustainability is a key selling point, but what about efficiency? 

AS: Both are important criteria that need to be taken into account by end-users. We use the term “eco efficiency” when talking about ecological and energy efficiency of a system. With CO2, in many cases, we see that we can save energy, mainly in supermarket applications. There are many examples in Europe. So customers want to have two things; to save energy and have a plant or a system that uses environmentally friendly refrigerants.   
R744.com: By the end of 2012 how many CO2 systems do you think BITZER Brazil will have installed? 

AS: For supermarket systems, BITZER offers the compressor but not the rack itself. OEMs such as Eletrofrio, Arneg Brazil, Racks-Plotter, Freeart-Seral, etc. manufacture their own racks and BITZER supports them with CO2 training courses, technical information, supplying compressors and components such as oil separators, vessels and reservoirs. In Brazil at the moment we have almost 25 CO2 systems in cascade applications in supermarket plants. And later this year we will have the first CO2 transcritical application in a supermarket! Although I don’t yet know in which supermarket, as that will depend on our customers, and on our OEM. This is a list of the CO2 plants that are in operation and other that will be in operation even this year:
  • Verdemar 5th store, Belo Horizonte, MG, operational since 2009
  • Verdemar 6th store, Belo Horizonte, MG, operational since 2011
  • Verdemar Distribution Centre, Belo Horizonte, MG – operational since 2012
  • Condor S J dos Pinhais, PR - operational since 2011
  • Giassi, São José, SC, operational since 2012
  • Bon Netto, Jaguariúna, SP, will operational since 25/08/2012
  • Condor, Pinhais, PR, planned
  • Extra, S. B. do Campo, SP, planned
  • Pão de Açúcar, São Paulo, SP, planned
  • Zoni, Gaspar, SC, planned
  • Condor, Campo Comprido, PR, planned
  • Maia, Sobradinho, Brasília, planned
  • Maia, Águas Claras, Brasília, planned
  • Maia, Lago Sul, Brasília, planned
  • Maia, Asa Norte, Brasília, planned
  • Cometa, Fortaleza, CE, planned
  • Compremax, Fortaleza, CE, planned
  • Nordestão, Natal, RN, planned
  • Cooper Garcia, Blumenau, SC, planned
  • Super ABC, Divinópolis, MG, planned
  • Extra Bom, Vitória, ES, planned
  • Frigamar (Frigorífico de Amargosa Ltda), Salvador, BA, planned 

R744.com: In terms of standards and regulations in Brazil, what needs to change, or can CO2 transcritical be launched now?
AS: In terms of standards, we adapt some European standards and some from the US, mainly regarding the piping and some vessels, that we apply and use for building a CO2 system. We are also looking as some Australian standards. So we gather information around the world and always place a high level of importance on safety issues. 
R744.com: That is why the BITZER natural refrigerant training center is very important. 

AS: Yes, we decided in 2007 to install a CO2 subcritical system, which marked the beginning of our investment in CO2 training in Brazil, to provide technical information to our customers about CO2 technology. Now, as everybody in Europe and the US is moving to transcritical or what they call “CO2 only”, we have also decided to do the same. Our CO2 center was built to make this technology accessible not only in Brazil, and we also offer a training course for the South American countries as well, in Spanish. 

R744.com: How many people have been trained so far? 

AS: Well since the beginning we have trained around 1000 technicians. Among them we have technicians that work in the field, application engineers, end-users, operators and those that want to know about this technology. There aren’t any restrictions to attend the course because BITZER offers the course to everybody - well except our competitors of course! 

R744.com: So what are you plans regarding expanding the use of CO2 to the rest of South America?

AS: Working alone, BITZER will not be able to do much. We will need to work with other partners, and in terms of training courses we need help from institutions. For example, in Brazil we have the SENAI, a technical school where refrigeration courses (among others) are free. BITZER intends to work together with such institutions, not only in Brazil but also in the rest of South America. Many people in South America are looking for this kind of training course and BITZER is the only one to offer CO2 training in Brazil and South America. But as I said before, we intend to distribute this technology to the universities and to SENAI schools, and other technical schools. 
R744.com: What are the efficiencies of the CO2 systems that are currently installed? 

AS: Giving an exact number is difficult, but I can say that the CO2 installations in Brazil already running have energy savings between 5% and 20% compared to the conventional refrigerants such as R22.
R744.com: Rio+20 just took place in Brazil, and some people said it was a missed opportunity for natural refrigerants, and that there wasn’t enough discussion surrounding natural refrigerant technology as a solution to global warming and climate change, what is your opinion? 

AS: Brazil needs as soon as possible to use natural refrigerants. We have a big country, and we have technical people, and most of the companies that find in other developed companies can be found in Brazil, so the technology for natural refrigerants is available and viable. We need end-users need to think about the environment and using sustainable technologies, because if they do then suppliers and manufactures of refrigeration systems will introduce even more technologies using natural refrigerants. 
I think it would be great if shecco could conduct a similar natural refrigerant survey to the one done in the US and Europe, because it would be interesting for people to see that we do have ammonia, propane and some CO2 installations. So my suggestion for the future is that shecco produces a GUIDE to Natural Refrigerants for South America.

Thank you!


By Janaina Topley Lira

Aug 14, 2012, 11:12

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