Raising awareness of natural refrigerants among technicians in the field is crucial to growing the market in France, heard the first-ever ATMOsphere France conference.
Edouard Chalhoub, Frigoristes Solidaires
Raising awareness of natural refrigerants among technicians in the field is crucial to growing the market for these technologies in France, heard participants in the first-ever ATMOsphere France conference yesterday.
“Technical competence among technicians will play an essential role in growing the natural refrigerant market,” said Edouard Chalhoub from the Alençon branch of Afpa, a French training agency for adults.
“The specificities of natural refrigerants are easy to learn,” Chalhoub argued.
Chalhoub is also the face of Frigoristes Solidaires, a ‘Makerspace’ to encourage wider use of natural refrigerants, promote careers in HVAC&R, and share knowledge.
“Technical competence among technicians will play an essential role in growing the natural refrigerant market.”
– Edouard Chalhoub, Frigoristes Solidaires
Familiarise yourself with natural refrigerants within a week
He sees growing demand for natural refrigerant training among end users, too, as these environmentally friendly solutions become more popular in view of the HFC phase-down taking place under the EU F-Gas Regulation.
It arguably takes trained technicians just a week to familiarise themselves with the peculiarities of different refrigerants, Chalhoub argued. “CO2 can be learned in two days, NH3 in two days, and hydrocarbons in one day,” he said.
The uniqueness of the French refrigeration sector can influence the type of system chosen by customers. End users go through consultants (so-called bureaux d’études) who recommend which system to choose before passing on the blueprint to the installer.
“The French refrigeration market is very complex,” said Sylvain Gillaux of Austrian manufacturer Hauser. “We must see the frigoristes as partners, and spread the word among all actors in the market,” he said.
“The frigoristes are vital as they’re the ones on the ground. We need to give end users the advice they need to make the right decisions,” Gillaux said.
Hauser’s vision is to go 100% natural refrigerants within the next decade. “No matter the climate or physical constraints for natural refrigerants, f gas-based systems are on the way out,” Gillaux said.
“We need to boost understanding of natural refrigerant systems amount technicians in France to give end users the confidence to adopt them.”
– Laurent Meykuchel, ENGIE Axima
Boost understanding among technicians
ENGIE Axima also stressed the importance of communicating the benefits of natural refrigerants.
“It is essential to convince clients that natural refrigerants are the way to go,” said Laurent Meykuchel, director general of Axima Refrigeration. Improving component availability and reducing costs are of paramount importance in growing the market, he argued.
ENGIE Axima has a development strategy for three natural refrigerants: NH 3, CO2 and hydrocarbons, to cover all cold chain applications: from -50°C to +20°C and from 1 kW to 5 MW.
“We need to boost understanding of natural refrigerant systems amount technicians in France to give end users the confidence to adopt them,” Meykuchel said.
For ENGIE Axima, the energy transition, f-gas quotas and the increase in HFC prices are all major drivers of natural-refrigerant technology development.
“We did our first NH3 installation in 1908 and our first industrial CO2 installation in 2000,” said Meykuchel.
Profroid, part of the Carrier/United Technologies group, reported strong growth in CO2 transcritical system sales in France in 2016 and 2017.
“I’m convinced that the standards and regulation represent a huge opportunity for our sector to put in place environmentally friendly technologies,” said Profroid’s Pierre Boyer.
“We are very much engaged in training because that is a crucial way of reaching new end users,” Boyer said.