Malaysian HVAC&R contractor FFM Engineering recently installed the country’s first industrial transcritical CO2 (R744) system at a cold storage facility in Kuala Lumpur, according to a presentation from Mark Leong, a representative of the engineering company.
Details of the project were presented by Leong during the State of the Industry – Southeast Asia online session on the second and final day of the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2022 on June 28. The conference, which also took place in person in Tokyo on June 27, was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com.
This is only the second CO2 system in Malaysia, following the installation of a Panasonic CO2 condensing unit at a small supermarket in Petaling Jaya in 2017.
Bringing transcritical CO2 to Malaysia’s industrial sector
During a visit to Japanese OEM Nihon Netsugen in 2019, FFM Engineering was impressed by the “robustness and efficiency” of the manufacturer’s Super Green F2 transcritical CO2 unit, explained Leong. The contractor was particularly interested in the higher energy savings and stability the system achieved during Japan’s hot summers, he added.
Following this trip, Nihon Netsugen and FFM Engineering formed a partnership to “pioneer the technology in Malaysia,” according to Leong.
In February 2021, the system, which has a cooling capacity of 80kW (22.7TR), was installed at the 5,400m3 (190,699ft3) cold storage facility of frozen-food supplier Dong Sing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unit’s installation and commissioning were completed by FFM Engineering with remote support from Nihon Netsugen.
During its first year of operation, the unit provided stable performance data; based on simulation data from an R22 system, it reduces energy consumption by nearly 15%. According to Leong, this trial proves that the technology can work in Malaysia’s climate.
Transcritical CO2 in Southeast Asia
While the transcritical CO2 market is strong in other regions around the world, it’s relatively new to Southeast Asia. As of May 2021, there was just the one industrial unit in operation in Malaysia and 13 units that had been installed in Indonesia.
According to Leong, R744-based refrigeration systems were introduced to Malaysia 5–10 years ago, but these were limited to cascade systems due to technical limitations, high costs and low acceptance of the refrigerant in the country.
Today, the biggest challenge to adopting CO2 systems in Malaysia remains the cost, he explained. To overcome this, FFM Engineering is working with Nihon Netsugen in Japan to bring down costs, as well as the Malaysian government to provide financial support similar to that given to Panasonic in 2017 for the country’s initial CO2 project.
“We hope Malaysia will become greener with more and more of these CO2 installations,” said Leong. “We need to make sure that the government can pump in more subsidies and exemptions.”
During his presentation, Leong also highlighted the importance of training and demonstrated the progress being made with the technology in Europe and Japan, where there are more than 31,000 transcritical CO2 units installed.
“We hope Malaysia will become greener with more and more of these CO2 installations. We need to make sure that the government can pump in more subsidies and exemptions.”Mark Leong, FFM Engineering
With acceptance and interest in the technology growing, Leong expects the adoption of transcritical CO2 to increase in the region in the coming years. In fact, over the next few months, FFM Engineering is due to install two more transcritical CO2 systems in Malaysia. Both units will be manufactured by Nihon Netsugen.
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