Now in its 5th edition, this year’s ATMOsphere America – taking place at the Westin Michigan Avenue on June 16-17 – is the biggest ever, attracting 340 participants from over 140 companies.
As natural refrigerant solutions become more popular in the United States, participants in the event are hearing how there is increasing competition between different natural refrigerant-based technologies – whether R744, hydrocarbons or ammonia – for commercial and industrial refrigeration.
Indeed, the boundaries between solutions typically applied in either commercial or industrial refrigeration are dissipating – with low-charge ammonia or NH3/CO2 cascade solutions entering the commercial refrigeration sector, and CO2 transcritical being applied in industrial refrigeration applications.
Piggly Wiggly, Red Bull among day one highlights
Panel sessions on market opportunities, commercial and industrial refrigeration, and the state of the industry in the US saw HVAC&R professionals from dozens of companies including Danfoss, CIMCO, CAREL and Heatcraft mix with end users like Red Bull and Piggly Wiggly – America’s oldest grocery store chain.
Experts gathered for the market opportunities panel session drew on the experiences of end users and manufacturers to reflect on the current state of the natural refrigerant sector in the United States and to predict where it is headed.
Richard Reeves, purchasing director at Red Bull North America, demonstrated how the company is committed to using hydrocarbons in 100% of its coolers. Red Bull has already introduced 900,000 Eco-Coolers worldwide, 200,000 of which are in the United States.
At the outset of Red Bull’s journey, Reeves reported a general lack of information and awareness in the US about hydrocarbon technology. “But once we really started going into it, it was not an issue,” he said, adding that Red Bull is now drawing on this experience to encourage more companies to adopt hydrocarbons.
As for CO2, for many it is a no-brainer. “At this point we see CO2 as the dominant technology,” Dustan Atkinson, manager (product strategy) at Hillphoenix, told the state of the industry panel.
CO2 is clearly growing in popularity. Atkinson said Hillphoenix currently has around 200 secondary systems, 60 cascade systems and around 200 booster systems in operation in North America.
Exploring best practice in the retail sector was the main focus of the commercial refrigeration session. Piggly Wiggly, for example, is reaping the benefits of installing an ammonia-CO2 cascade system at one of its stores. Heatcraft’s Masood Ali puts the cumulative savings to date at $33,170, equal to a 28.5% reduction in energy costs.
Indeed, day one heard participants declare, “CO2 is no longer an experiment,” “CO2 is becoming mainstream,” and “nat refs are a no-brainer”.
Exciting times, then, for natural refrigerants in the United States.
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