R744: How do you see the market for natural refrigerants developing in your region and globally in 2016?

I see a strong market for ammonia in traditional industrial applications, now with energy efficient heat pumps and heat recovery systems as interesting applications to focus on. In commercial refrigeration we expect the CO2 refrigerant to become the standard refrigerant in more and more countries and regions.

R744: Are there any external market trends developing that will affect the natural refrigerant sector?

I’m afraid that the low oil and energy prices will slow down investments in energy efficiency and heat recovery. The increasing awareness of climate change will hopefully balance out my fears. We also have to look at the impact of the new synthetic refrigerants that are coming to the refrigeration market. I haven’t seen this boom of new refrigerants since the early 90s. How many of those are used today? Do we ever learn?

R744: Are there any expected developments in the training of technicians and experts working with natural refrigerants?

I hope so: the more knowledge, the better. A lot of people are still very afraid of ammonia: scared because of accidents in plants while handling ammonia, and also scared because of rumours. Unfortunately the media is not able to sort things out, so the refrigeration systems are too often taking the hit for those accidents.

R744: Which specific projects or new installations are you excited about for 2016?

Every new project and every new installation with a natural refrigerant is always exciting. Of course the excitement is higher when you have personally been involved to convince a buyer to invest in an energy efficient ammonia system, combined with a low ammonia charge as well.        
R744: Which regions will Alfa Laval focus on in 2016? Where do you see the most promising market possibilities for natural refrigerants?

Alfa Laval has a global presence and we always try to help our local customers to optimise their, or their customers’, systems and processes. Some of our products are developed mainly to be very efficient in NH3 systems and others to be the same in CO2 systems. Anyhow, we are happy to be able to offer from a very wide range of products. We always have an intention to help the customers to make a good decision and to offer a good solution efficiency-wise, and with as low an impact on the environment as possible.

R744: Do you see any threats to your natural refrigerant business emerging?

As I said before, the energy prices, but also the short-term thinking that has been typical for the last few decades. It surprises me that it is still so difficult to convince a buyer to invest in a lower running cost. The investment budget is not very often connected to a lifecycle cost.

Author r744