Amid the global HFC phasedown, CO₂ is making greater inroads into the industrial refrigeration market, heard participants in a Carnot Refrigeration webinar held on 16 May by sheccoBase, the market development arm of shecco, publisher of this website.

“There are an increasing amount of new technologies and viable options to make CO2 an ideal refrigerant for industrial equipment, which should ultimately contribute to greening the sector overall,” said shecco Chief Operating Officer Alvaro de Oña.

De Oña presented a number of case studies using CO2 for industrial equipment, highlighting the variety of applications and climates in which the refrigerant can be used. The applications showcased during the webinar included a winery, cold storage for fruit and fresh produce, a fish processing facility and a meat processing plant, across on all five continents.

Carnot’s CO2 journey: From supermarkets to ice rinks and data centres

Marc-André Lesmerises, president of Carnot Refrigeration, outlined the Canadian firm’s CO2 transcritical journey, which began in 2008 when Carnot started to install the systems for supermarket chain Sobeys.

“Since then, they decided to go with CO2 [transcritical] in all of their stores,” Lesmerises said. “Right now, Canada’s five largest supermarket chains use CO2 as a standard refrigerant in their new stores,” he added. This success in commercial refrigeration was soon followed by industrial applications. Carnot started to work on CO2-based ice rinks in 2010 and 2011.

Lesmerises also highlighted the benefits of CO2 in industrial applications in terms of heat reclaim and energy efficiency, boosted by the adoption of new cutting-edge transcritical systems.

“Carnot Refrigeration uses one of the well-known ‘downsides’ of CO2 for its own benefit,” Lesmerises said. “The fact that CO2 has higher pressure of operation allows us to pump the vapour to the condenser only by temperature differential. We don’t need the compressor as long as the temperature at the condenser is lower that the evaporator […]. The energy saving is huge,” he explained.

The company currently uses this technology in 69 data centres. The heat reclaim potential is ideal in such applications, because the heat inside the room is higher than outside.

Benefits of using COin industrial refrigeration

John Miranda, founder and chief marketer of Emergent Cold Technologies, argued that using CO2 in industrial applications gives more flexibility on the regulatory compliance side compared to traditional HFC-based equipment as well as other natural refrigerants. He also stressed reduced cost of ownership and easy maintenance.

“When you evaluate a distributed CO2 system from the application standpoint, it has the best total cost of ownership. Whether you’re doing a greenfield project or a retrofit project, you do not need a mechanical equipment room, for instance,” Miranda explained.

“The key subject on the electrical energy side is that we can optimise the CO2 system by operating at higher function levels as a result of proximity, and lower piping pressure losses,” he added.

In terms of maintenance cost savings, CO2-based systems for industrial applications do not require water treatment due to the use of chemicals as well as direct drive fans (as there are no belts or greasing). There is no need for compressor inspections either (systems are semi-hermetic), and no oil pot draining. In addition, CO2 is less than $1/lb (€0.80/0.50 kg), significantly lowering the costs.

“And lastly, regulatory compliance costs are greatly reduced. It is one of the most important benefits for end users,” Miranda concluded.

Experience by the end user

G. Robert Hampson, owner of Canneberges Bécancour, showcased Carnot’s CO2-based system installed in Bécancour ‘s facility in Canada. The company is one of the largest cranberry producers in Quebec for both storage and freezing applications.

Hampson said CO2 as a refrigerant was about half the price of an ammonia system, and didn’t require technicians on site to look after the refrigeration system. Carnot itself monitors its own CO2-based equipment, through its computer monitoring system.

Hampson said Canneberges Bécancour was interested in having a green facility. “CO2 was the answer,” he concluded.

You can watch the webinar online below, and access all presentations here.

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