Barcelona, Spain-based OEM AREA Cooling Solutions has introduced a 30kW (8.5TR) transcritical CO2 (R744) inverter condensing unit, its largest compact system with fully hermetic compressors.
It is expected to be market ready in 2023, with capacities as high as 60kW (17TR) expected in the future.
AREA Cooling Solutions has been working on expanding its range of inverter-driver condensing units with hermetic compressors since it started in natural refrigerants seven years ago, explained Josep Ventura, its CEO and Founder during an interview at the 2022 Chillventa trade show in Nuremberg, Germany, held October 11-13. “It has been a long way but now we have the full range of products,” he said.
The latest additions to this range are the iCOOL 22 and 30D CO2 medium-temperature units suited to commercial refrigeration, which were launched at Chillventa. The 22kW (6.3TR) iCOOL 22 was redesigned to make the units UL-approved whereas the 30kW (8.5TR) 30D CO2 unit is a completely new unit that is expected to be commercially available in Europe in the second half of 2023.
Both units are plug-and-play, compact and lightweight, with inverter technology that ensures high energy efficiency, said AREA in a Chillventa statement. The units are also low-noise and offer integrated active control of the whole system.
According to Ventura, AREA is now working on extending its range to include even greater capacities, such as 40kW (11.4TR), 50kW (14.2TR), and 60kW units.
CO2 demand growing
According to Ventura, interest in CO2 is picking up among customers and contractors. Compared to the last trade show AREA attended before the COVID-19 pandemic, EuroShop 2020 in Düsseldorf, Germany, Ventura sees a great shift towards the acceptance of CO2. “We have a lot of [CO2] projects going on and I think it’s not going to stop, it’s going to grow higher and higher,” he said.
The EU F-gas Regulation is a major driver for the accelerated shift to CO2 in Europe, said Ventura. AREA is seeing a trend of investors and larger companies wanting to switch over now rather than wait until they are forced to five or ten years from now. “They don’t want that threat hanging over their investment,” he said.
Investment in training
According to Ventura, the biggest stumbling blocks to the large-scale uptake of CO2 across Europe and beyond are the cost of CO2 components and the lack of technician training. The cost of components is expected to come down as production increases and more players enter the market, but training remains a pain point. That is why AREA is putting a lot of resources into training contractors to understand the more complex CO2 units.
“We have many customers who would be willing to go CO2 but they are located in areas far away from large cities and concerned that they will struggle with service and maintenance if they install CO2,” explained Ventura. “That is why we need training.”
AREA is not only helping individual contractors with training but also supporting other companies like component manufacturers in developing natural refrigerant products. By offering the support of its engineers, AREA is helping companies optimize products and develop new ones – particularly for CO2 and propane (R290). This is expected to be formalized soon through the development of a new competence center.
AREA is expected to start exporting CO2 condensing units to the U.S. by the start of 2023 in an updated timeline.
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