Because of Israel’s warm climate, contractors there have stayed away from installing transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration.
Except for one – Nik Systems, which over the past three years has advanced the use of transcritical CO2 systems in a number of different applications across the Middle Eastern country.
Based in Rishon LeZion, Israel, south of Tel Aviv, Nik Systems was founded eight years ago by Nikolay Vodolzov, an engineer who is the driving force behind its decision to bring CO2 refrigeration to Israel. The company does design, construction and maintenance of refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, among other systems.
To date, Nik Systems has installed CO2 systems for five end users, including Israeli meat producer Mania Group, fast-food chain KFC Israel, and, most recently, financial services company Isracard. A new CO2 installation will be at a Facebook facility. All future projects will be CO2-only, said Vodolzov in an interview with R744.com.
“We have showed the whole world by the example in Israel that transcritical CO2 systems are very promising (reliable operation, huge energy savings, no harm to the environment),” Vodolzov said in a LinkedIn post last year.
Nik Systems does not yet have any food retail customers for CO2, but Vodolzov is in the process of explaining the technology to food retailers and expects to install systems for them as well.
Nik Systems has imported CO2 equipment from European companies, including racks from German OEM TEKO (which has also supplied technical support) and Lithuanian OEM Arbana, various components from Danfoss, compressors from BOCK and Panasonic, controls from DEKA Controls and Carel and CO2 sensors from Samon. Vodolzov said his company is starting to build its own CO2 racks.
To improve their efficiency when the ambient temperature is high, the CO2 systems include parallel compression, Vodolzov said. In Rishon LeZion, the hot season lasts for 4.2 months, from June 7 to October 13, with an average daily high temperature above 82°F (27.8°C).
Other Israeli contractors, who had previously avoided CO2 systems, are now asking Vodolzov about them. “Everyone is watching our company grow with CO2,” he said.
Israel may be more open to CO2 and other alternative gases as a result of recent regulations for HFCs. Although Israel has not yet ratified the HFC-reduction protocol under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, in late 2020 the government’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved an amendment to the Hazardous Substances Regulations aimed at reducing imports of HFCs. Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has worked with the German state of Bavaria to reduce HFCs and promote natural refrigerants.
In a small country like Israel, where businesses may be close to residential houses, CO2 is favored over ammonia or propane, said Vodolzov.
Multiple CO2 projects
Nik Systems installed the Mania Group’s first transcritical CO2 system at a storage facility in Rishon LeZion in 2020, and followed a year later with a second transcritical CO2 system at the same facility, both from TEKO.
Four new KFC outlets have hired Nik systems to install transcritical CO2 systems, also from TEKO, with compressors from Panasonic. The systems are “very economical and efficient,” said Vodolzov, adding that future KFC restaurants will also use CO2.
Last December, Nik Systems completed installations of two transcritical CO2 systems at the new 16-story Isracard building in Tel Aviv, with racks supplied by Lithuanian OEM Arbana. Compressors are from BOCK while other components are from Carel and Deka.
The systems, one on the ground floor and one on the 16th floor, serve freezers (-18°C/-0.4°F) and 12 cold rooms (3°C/37°F) supporting employee cafeterias. The system capacities for the freezers are 3kW (0.9TR) and for the cold rooms 11kW (3.1TR) and 15kW (4.3TR) for the ground and 16th floor, respectively. The heat reclaim from the systems generates 65°C (149°F) hot water for the cafeterias and nearby floors.
According to Vodolzov, the transcritical CO2 systems at the Isracard building are 35 to 40% more efficient than equivalent HFC systems, and 75% more efficient if heat reclaim is included.
For larger CO2 systems, with capacities of at least 60kW (17.1TR), their capital cost is starting to be less than that of HFC systems, said Vodolzov.
“We have showed the whole world by the example in Israel that transcritical CO2 systems are very promising (reliable operation, huge energy savings, no harm to the environment).”Nikolay Vodolzov, Nik Systems
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