SANDEN‘s CO2 technology range has received an enthusiastic response from many key European retailers, particularly at the Carrefour Innovation Forum that took place in October 2015, reported Ichikawa. “By applying thermodynamics knowledge and inventive solutions, CO2 technology is now a real and viable solution in refrigeration applications. I am confident that this trend will continue,” he said.
In Europe, Ichikawa sees CO2 technology as the biggest area of future market growth. “Heat pump water heaters will also become much more popular. We see a lot of opportunity in this business sector.”
SANDEN already has several projects in small-sized stores in Europe. Ichikawa explained that CO2 solutions had already been commonly used for a long time in large format stores in Europe. “However, the real need lies in small format stores, including small supermarkets and convenience stores. This is the segment SANDEN has been focusing on.”
“Our concept is not to become a competitor of cooler and showcase manufacturers, but rather we want to partner with them in order to accelerate the use of CO2 refrigerant in the market. I believe that the most important thing today is to expand our fellowship. SANDEN is willing to find more partners for CO2 technology,” said Ichikawa.
SANDEN has opted to work mainly with CO2 refrigerant. “There is a reason why we do not focus on hydrocarbons. We had discussions about hydrocarbons in the past. We chose to eliminate all safety risks, in addition to being good for the environment.”
Asked what CO2 compressor production volumes SANDEN expects to have by 2018, Ichikawa foresees the company would probably make one million units per year.
Adopting natural refrigerants the ‘best solution’ for developing regions
Ichikawa expressed his views on what could help to promote natural refrigerants in developing markets, such as Africa and Asia. “The most important driver is the end users’ policy. For example, the Coca-Cola Company has committed to use CO2 as its refrigerant of choice and therefore they buy CO2 coolers globally, regardless of the region, including in Mexico, Asia and China. End users’ policy can make this world better.”
“We talk to end users, as well as talking with system manufacturers. The reason is simple: if the end users acknowledge the benefits of SANDEN CO2 technology, then we can work together with their system suppliers to offer CO2 solutions. SANDEN is determined to promote CO2 refrigerant, regardless of regulations. In the future all refrigerants will be switched to natural refrigerants. It’s just a matter of time,” Ichikawa said.
It might take 10 or 20 or even 50 years for natural refrigerants to change the marketplace, he argues, but SANDEN wants to go in this direction. “Our stakeholders can see us taking a simple and fundamental orientation. If we kept changing the refrigerants we use, then our stakeholders would be confused. I want to set a direction and I want to walk straight forward in that direction,” Ichikawa concludes.