120 Nihon Netsugen Transcritical CO2 Units Installed in Japan so far in 2023
Japanese OEM Nihon Netsugen Systems has installed 120 of its transcritical CO2 (R744) units in Japan so far this year, according to the company’s president, Katsuhiko Harada. Since launching its first Super Green CO2 condensing unit in 2015, the company has installed a total of 530 units across 180 projects, he added, up from 410 units and 140 projects as of January 2023.
“The business of CO2 is really growing in Japan,” said Harada in a recent interview with Jan Dusek, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Asia Pacific at ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com. “We expect our CO2 production to grow 1.5 times over the next year.”
To meet this growing demand, Nihon Netsugen opened a new production facility for CO2 units in Shiga, Japan, earlier this year.
“People now understand the problem with f-gas, so we expect to see the market to change to natural refrigerants like CO2 and ammonia [R717],” he explained, adding that future expansion will likely be needed to meet the growing demand.
“People now understand the problem with f-gas, so we expect to see the market to change to natural refrigerants like CO2 and ammonia [R717].”Katsuhiko Harada, Nihon Netsugen Systems
Harada said that he has been surprised by the pace of deployment of Nihon Netsugen’s transcritical CO2 technologies in Southeast Asia.
“In January, we offered a demonstration unit to the CCI-Hub [Cold Chain Innovation Hub] in the Philippines, and within the same year, we have already [completed] our first project,” he explained.
On January 23, 2023, the CCI-Hub commissioned the Super Green CO2 unit from Nihon Netsugen as a demonstration project, marking the first transcritical CO2 installation in the Philippines. Come October, the manufacturer’s technology was installed at a new Glacier Megafridge warehouse – the country’s first transcritical CO2 cold storage facility – on the island of Panay.
Nihon Netsugen also has one transcritical CO2 system operating at a cold storage facility in Malaysia.
“We expect [the number of] projects in the Philippines and Southeast Asia [to grow],” he added.
Expanding application of transcritical CO2
While the majority of Nihon Netsugen’s CO2 projects are at cold storage facilities, its condensing units are also used for process cooling applications in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, said Harada.
“The potential [of CO2] is now spreading into many [applications],” he added.
For example, Nihon Netsugen is currently working to develop CO2-based air-conditioning.
“Technically we have already done air-conditioning with CO2 in our [new] factory,” he explained. However, the company needs to develop its offering further before it is commercially ready.
In addition to working with CO2, the manufacturer has partnered with German OEM GEA Heating and Refrigeration Technologies to supply ammonia chillers for larger-capacity industrial applications.
“Demand [for ammonia] is really increasing in the Japanese market, especially in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries,” he said. “We are really positive about the future for ammonia chillers for bigger installations.”
Heat recovery with CO2
According to Harada, Nihon Netsugen is looking to heat recovery as an opportunity to further enhance the energy efficiency of its CO2-based cooling systems, with all new CO2 installations including heat recovery.
The company’s CO2 units already achieve 20–40% energy savings compared to f-gas-based systems, but greater efficiency gains are possible by combining CO2 and heat recovery with a total system approach, he said.
Waste heat from the cooling unit can be used for a range of purposes, including system defrost or dehumidification of loading areas, he added.
The manufacturer plans to present its CO2 heat recovery system at the ATMOsphere Asia Pacific (ATMO APAC) Summit 2024 in Tokyo. The conference will take place February 6–7 and is hosted by ATMOsphere.