“CO2 is best economical solution in Canada” - exclusive interview with Carnot Refrigeration

By Alexandra Maratou, Jan 25, 2013, 10:12 5 minute reading

CO2 installations are picking up in Canada, with Carnot Refrigeration currently working on 18 CO2 construction sites in parallel. Marc-André Lesmerises, co-founder and President of the company, talked to R744.com about the benefits of CO2 that make it best economical solution in Canada, and the role of Carnot Refrigeration as a first-mover in North America.

R744.com: What is the business case for natural refrigerants, beyond the environmental benefits? What can the end user gain for his/her business?

Marc-André Lesmerises: The green side of CO2 or natural refrigerants is more of a bonus because, in fact, what we experience here in Canada is that you have a gain in and a fast recovery of your investment on energy efficiency, on installation costs, and on costs of refrigerant during the operation of the system. The high-pressure characteristic of CO2, when you understand well how you can use it, is more of a benefit than a challenge.

R744.com: In summer 2012, industry predicted a 2012 yearly rate of more than 30 transcritical (TC) CO2 supermarket stores in Canada. With the year coming to an end, is the prediction fulfilled?

Lesmerises: We will probably have more than 30 installations before next July only by Carnot Refrigeration. For example this month, we have in parallel 18 large commercial refrigeration (Min 400kW of capacity) sites on construction and we also expect some CO2 ice rinks to come during summer 2013, so it will be a fair number.

R744.com: Which technology and application do you think is the rising star of natural refrigerants in the next two to five years?

Lesmerises: For retailer stores and for ice rinks it would definitely be transcritical CO2. For distribution centers, maybe it would be a mix of CO2 and ammonia in cascade with CO2.

R744.com: Imagine you have one minute with your customer. What is unique about your product with natural refrigerants?

Lesmerises: Carnot has a really strong system that is reliable, efficient and simple. We have hot gas defrost for low temperature and accelerate passive defrost for medium temperature, so that helps us to extend the life of the product and the showcases because we carefully manage the heat required to do the defrost. We also do CO2 direct heat recovery, which allows us to do the heating at the same time that we are able to float our head pressure, which gives us a really efficient system. As compared to any other system, the characteristics of CO2 with high superheat proportion of energy helps us cover the majority of heating needs during a year without major pressure increase in the system. That enables us to achieve a really good combined Coefficient of Performance (COP).

R744.com: What would be your message to Canada’s environment minister or other policy maker?

Lesmerises: Natural refrigerant technologies are available in Canada. The customer wants it, and it is something that we need because it is clean. It is better for the environment, as we save material, we save on transportation, we save energy, we save refrigerant and we save greenhouse gas emissions. There is no reason to wait for making some regulations that will also push the non-first movers, and innovation in general.

Without regulation it would take longer to realise that there is not just a green benefit, but also a real economic benefit to using natural refrigerants.

R744.com: What motivates you personally to work with natural refrigerants?

Lesmerises: Maybe it is a little bit cliché, but what motivates me are my daughters. I want them to have a good future without having to worry about climate problems and if I can do something for that, I will. But, at the same time, this is not my first response when someone asks me “what do you think about CO2 and the fact that it is green?” Yes, it’s green but before that fact, it might be the best economical solution you can find. And on top, yes, it is also green! I like to take part in the revolution of the refrigeration industries. I have a wonderful young and smart team who are all in line with what we do and the reason of what we do.

In the last years, during my different travels around the world, I met a lot of smart people who understand the importance of what we need to do as ‘’refrigeration specialists’’. Global warming concerns everyone. You can sit back and wait or you can act by doing what you are able to do.

R744.com: And in your region, are you one of the first movers?

Lesmerises: Yes. I am not saying we are the ones who invented the CO2 transcritical cycle, Mr Lorentzen and his team did it in the 90s, but we developed our own application of this technology. We did some adjustments according to our local conditions, e.g. hot gas defrost and heat recovery are some of them.

Synthetic refrigerants are a significant problem in our world today. I think, if everyone opened their mind, forgot their immediate personal benefit but thought a little bit more about the people today and the people of tomorrow, we would arrive at something really good. We will be able to bring the international community to do something good. The statements of the ''Consumer Goods Forum'' regarding the use of natural refrigerant is the perfect example So we need to stop waiting, we need to do something ourselves. That’s my point of view.

R744.com: What would be your top three recommendations to help natural refrigerants gain market share in commercial refrigeration in North America and also worldwide?

Lesmerises: The first one is to make sure not to believe the people who do not carefully understand the characteristics of CO2 and who make the error of comparing COP of CO2 at the same condition of HFC systems. The characteristics of CO2 allow us to build systems that will be used under different conditions than HFC systems. At the beginning, I made the same error: I thought it cannot work and that the COP of other refrigerants was better. But when you work with it, when you try it, you understand that using it is beneficial.

The second thing is to try it and the third thing is to try it. Try it, you will see, you will understand… I can’t say more than this.



By Alexandra Maratou

Jan 25, 2013, 10:12

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