The INDEE+ project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and designed to transform India’s refrigeration and air-conditioning sector, has recently unfurled a series of natural refrigerant demonstration sites in Goa,  and Kochi and Bangalore.

The project’s team also made a significant impact at the ACREX India 2023 conference, further emphasizing the importance and potential of sustainable cooling solutions.

The INDEE+ project, a collaboration between Norwegian and Indian institutions, undertook the demonstration initiatives in March 2023 to highlight the potential of CO2 (R744) and ammonia (R717) systems as environmentally friendly alternatives for the cooling industry.

The first demonstration is being implemented in Goa, where a transcritical CO2 system is going to be built to provide freezing, air-conditioning and hot water solutions at a hotel. This application of a natural refrigerant in the hospitality sector is designed to set a pattern for future sustainable practices.

Venturing further south to Kochi, the team set up a second demonstration in the heart of the city’s bustling seafood processing industry. There, they finalized the implementation of a cascade R744/ R717 system, focusing on sustainable practices in the food processing industry.

According to the SINTEF blog by Kristina Widell, Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Ocean, the INDEE+ project’s third demonstration site is located at a school meal production facility in Bangalore, responsible for crafting 70,000 meals daily for nearby schools. Until now, this site has relied on fossil fuel boilers to generate the requisite steam for cooking.

However, “a significant shift is on the horizon” with the imminent installation of a transcritical R744 heat pump, writes Widell. While the facility will continue to use boilers for steam production, the new heat pump will be capable of producing hot water to 85°C (185°F), “substantially decreasing the total primary energy demand.”

Impact of PFAS restrictions

In addition to these demonstration projects, the INDEE+ team made significant contributions at the ACREX India 2023 conference. The conference addressed knowledge sharing on the latest advancements and sustainable practices in the HVAC industry.

Professor Armin Hafner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), who is heading the INDEE+ project, delivered a keynote presentation on the potential impact of proposed PFAS restrictions by the European Chemical Agencies (ECHA) on f-gas refrigerants, emphasizing the urgency of adopting natural refrigerants in India’s proliferating HVAC market.

To facilitate this, INDEE+ is spearheading the installation of dedicated educational units at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bangalore, the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in Kochi and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani. These installations will provide hands-on learning experiences with natural refrigerants, fostering a new generation of experts in this emerging field.

“By providing these educational units, we are ensuring that the country has access to practical experiences with natural refrigerants,” said Sarun Kumar Kochunni, Project Coordinator of INDEE+. “This initiative will be instrumental in building a skilled workforce ready to embrace and drive sustainable cooling solutions.”

“By providing these educational units, we are ensuring that the country has access to practical experiences with natural refrigerants.”

Sarun Kumar Kochunni, Project Coordinator of INDEE+

Author Saroj Thapa