Swiss Heat Pump Conference: naturals technology is available and the market is ready for them

By Simon Burkel, Jul 05, 2013, 11:22 3 minute reading

At the 19th Swiss Heat Pump conference, manufacturers and researchers specialised in the field of heat pump systems presented on latest technology developments. The main focus was on domestic buildings with very low heating requirements, industrial plants as well as the availability, integration and comparison of systems combining heat pumps and solar energy. Also highlighted was the growing popularity of CO2 refrigeration systems.

On 26 June 2013, the 19th Swiss Heat Pump conference was organised by the Swiss Federal Energy Agency (SFOE) in Burgdorf (CH), providing participants with insights into the recent research projects supported by the SFOE. The presented projects focused on methods to increase the energy efficiency of heat pump installations in various applications. Natural Refrigerants can play a key role in achieving energy savings as various examples of commercial refrigeration in Switzerland demonstrate today. Moreover, upcoming changes in Swiss legislation will likely increase the importance of natural refrigerants in the Swiss refrigeration and air-conditioning market.
Natural refrigerants - the solution to avoid environmental problems caused by synthetic refrigerants
In his presentation, Raphael Gerber from CTA AG pointed out that refrigeration installations and heat pumps with natural refrigerants are not only environmentally beneficial but also cost-effective in many applications. The presentation also highlighted the importance of selecting and evaluating the right decision-making criteria in terms of economic efficiency, operational safety, environmental impact, personal safety and legislation when searching for the natural refrigerant that best meets the demand of a specific application.
“Natural refrigerant technology is available and the market is ready”
The comparison of the theoretical output of heat pumps with 50 kW heating capacity using CO2 and propane as refrigerants demonstrates superior COP’s for various applications, 5 to 25% higher than for R410A. “I hope that by highlighting some of the opportunities and applications for natural refrigerants, their potential in terms of sustainability, energy efficiency, and cost effectiveness was made clear. We need to look for long-term solutions instead of patchy solutions. The technology is available and the market is ready” Mr. Gerber said.
While installations in industry, food distribution, logistics, district heating and domestic refrigeration already mostly use natural fluids, their application is increasing in other applications like air conditioning, transport and domestic heat pumps.
CO2 refrigeration systems are becoming increasingly important
Jonas Schönenberger from Frigo-Consulting AG presented a research project that aims to increase the efficiency of transcritical CO2 refrigeration systems in various applications. Well-known Swiss supermarket and wholesale chains have defined transcritical CO2 refrigeration systems as standard refrigeration systems in commercial applications. More than 300 transcritical CO2 commercial applications are in operation today.
In the research presented on commercial refrigeration, CO2 systems were shown to achieve up to 20% better average annual performance figures compared to synthetic refrigerants. 
The increasing demand for energy efficient refrigeration systems was also given as the reason behind the recent commissioning of ground breaking technologies such as the first CO2 refrigeration system with an integrated expansion machine, a CO2 refrigeration system with absorption technology and a new CO2 refrigeration system with parallel compressors. 
Methods to increase efficiency of transcritical refrigeration systems 
In addition, research into other ways of increasing the efficiency of transcritical refrigeration systems was presented. Several methods were evaluated and ranked with regard to their advantages and disadvantages as well as savings and market potential:
  • Minimisation of throttling losses
  • Reduction of high pressure
  • External refrigeration unit
  • Optimisation of control technology
  • Increased suction pressure
  • Conversion of waste heat into electricity
  • Energy storage off-peak electricity 
The final results from the research project will help to select appropriate methods for increasing efficiency and promoting their wide spread application. Final results are expected in late 2013.
Swiss legislation prohibits use of synthetic greenhouse gases
A revision of the current Swiss legislation (AS 2012) sets new limits for the use of synthetic greenhouse gases. As of 1.12.2013, synthetic greenhouse gases will be prohibited in the following installations:
  • Air conditioning installations with a cooling capacity exceeding 600 kW
  • Industrial refrigeration systems with a cooling capacity exceeding 400 kW
  • Medium and large commercial refrigeration systems


By Simon Burkel

Jul 05, 2013, 11:22

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