South Africa: 'Leapfrog HFCs to go NatRefs'

South Africa has a unique opportunity to leapfrog from HCFCs to natural refrigerants, and major end users are doing just that, heard participants in ATMOsphere Frigair in Johannesburg on Thursday (7 June).

ATMOsphere Frigair took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on 7 June.

The trickle-down effect of rising HFC prices as a result of the global phasedown being put in place in the context of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol offers South Africa a chance to adopt natural refrigerants as replacements for HCFCs, heard participants in ATMOsphere Network Frigair 2018, held on Thursday (7 June) at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg as part of Frigair 2018 – Africa’s only dedicated HVAC&R tradeshow.

“In South Africa, we have an opportunity to leap straight from HCFCs to natural refrigerants,” Alex Kuzma from leading South African retailer Woolworths told the ‘Future of the Industry’ panel at the event, hosted by shecco (publisher of this website) in conjunction with South African HVAC&R firm Commercial Refrigeration Services (CRS).

“CO2 is sustainable and future-proof. You put it in, and you don’t have to worry about it any more,” Kuzma said.

“Anyone putting in HFC plants now, brace yourselves, because it’s going to get ugly!” he added.

CO2 is sustainable and future-proof. You put it in, and you don’t have to worry about it any more.
– Alex Kuzma, Woolworths

In2Food opts for CO2 transcritical

Malcolm Moore of the In2Food Group (Pty.) Ltd., which operates in South Africa and Australia, outlined the process by which the company decided to opt for CO2 transcritical for its new food processing plant.

In2Food is the largest supplier of fresh and chilled food products to supermarket chain Woolworths. Boasting over 1,000 product lines, it also exports to UK retailer Marks & Spencer.

The company has 11 sites in South Africa, five in Gauteng and six on the Western Cape.

For its giant new food factory on a 3.3-hectare site – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere – In2Food wanted to minimise its environmental footprint.

“Ammonia refrigeration seemed the obvious choice. I’d successfully used it in four installations in the last 25 years, two of which were at In2Food,” Moore said.

It contracted CRS to provide the HVAC&R system, which offers refrigeration, chilled water and blast freezing, as well as heat transfer for hot water. CRS recommended CO2.

“CO2 was the far less obvious choice,” he admits. “The number of suppliers and installers in South Africa was limited. And industry spoke only of risks.”

CRS, however, worked hard to convince Moore of the benefits of choosing CO 2 – making a business case around lower initial investment and running costs, and additional features such as heat reclaim.

Installation will begin in August 2018, with the goal of commissioning the system in November. The factory should be up and running by January 2019.

Commercial refrigeration market continues to grow

CO2 is also making inroads into commercial refrigeration in South Africa, driven largely by the efforts of system provider Commercial Refrigeration Services (CRS) and the commitment of leading South African food retailer Woolworths.

Going down the CO2 road is a good business journey in terms of energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, said Alex Kuzma of Woolworths.

Kuzma cited an initial cost premium of +45% vs. the previous systems, fear of the unknown, relative system complexity, difficulties sourcing components, and the development of local skills among the initial obstacles of adopting CO2 transcritical technology in South African food retail.

Fast-forward to 2018, and such growing pains are very much a thing of the past. Since opening its first CO2 transcritical store in 2010, Woolworths now boasts between 60 and 70 stores.

Among the CO2 transcritical system innovations that have improved energy vs. traditional HFC-based systems, Kuzma cited the use of electronic expansion valves, variable speed EC fans and variable-speed compressors alongside the elimination of defrost heating.

“CO2 is reliable and simple – our technicians are now familiar with DX technology,” Kuzma said. “It’s sustainable and future-proof, and almost cost-neutral.”

“CO2 transcritical works well in high ambient temperature conditions,” Kuzma said. “There are excellent heat reclaim opportunities, and the cost of HFC gases is spiralling,” he said.

Wynand Groenewald of CRS outlined global trends in the adoption of CO2 transcritical systems and expressed optimism that the market for these solutions in South Africa would continue to grow.

“Today our clients are posting energy savings of up to 40% by using CO2 transcritical systems,” he said.

By Andrew Williams

Jun 08, 2018, 00:35

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