This was the big question at the ATMOsphere Europe conference in Berlin, Germany, which saw participants vote on whether this target across the HVAC&R sector was possible, and which applications were moving faster than others.
Market trends panelists during the ATMOsphere Europe conference in Berlin, Germany.
Photo credit: Ben Beech
At the ATMOsphere Europe conference – which took place in Berlin, Germany from 25-27 September – HVAC&R manufacturers from around the world were asked on sli.do what market share they predict for natural refrigerants as a proportion of Europe’s total HVAC&R market in the future. The current rate is commonly thought to be around 10%.
A majority of participants saw the total share as growing to 30-40% (29% of the vote), with 23% – the next largest section of the audience – voting for over 40%.
Panelists in the market trends and opportunities session had already made important steps in this direction.
Andreas Meier, managing director of German manfacturer TEKO, said: “This year we will have 60-70% natural refrigerants” as a proportion of total sales.
“It’s not a belief natural refrigerants are better. It’s a fact.”
– Carrier’s Guillaume Burvingt
Carrier’s Guillaume Burvingt said the firm is also following the same path. “90% of our cabinets have been converted to R290,” Burvingt said.
“It’s not a belief natural refrigerants are better. It’s a fact,” he said, citing the energy efficiency of such systems.
Johnson Controls’ Alexander Cohr Pachai added: “I have been working a lot with hydrocarbons […]. They are a present from the gods.”
Some bumps in the road
TEKO’s Meier warned that to get to the 30% point, end users would need to play a more active role. “You need to have the right end users like Nestlé, METRO, Carrefour and Roche,” he said.
Umberto di Barbora of heat exchanger manufacturer Modine believes that end users have clearly evolved in the last few years. Di Barbora said: “A few years ago, I would speak to an end user about the EU F-Gas Regulation and he wouldn’t know.” Now, he believes, they are more aware what their options and obligations are.
The trend towards natural refrigerants is moving fast. shecco’s Alvaro de Oña revealed sheccoBase research putting the number of European supermarkets using transcritical CO2 systems at 12,000.
Armin Hafner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) believes the CO2 trend will not just continue in Europe but will also hit other countries like China and India. “We [in Norway] are working closely in India. The Norwegian government gave them a CO2 system,” Hafner said.
Industrial refrigeration has long been a success story for ammonia, another natural refrigerant. Eric Delforge of Mayekawa, an industrial refrigeration and heat pump manufacturer, points out “for us, natural refrigerants or not is [a] no-brainer for industrial”.
shecco’s de Oña told the audience that the industrial refrigeration sector is seeing competition between different natural refrigerants, namely hydrocarbon-CO2 cascades, ammonia-CO2 cascades, and low-charge ammonia solutions.