Reflecting the growth of natural refrigerants in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, a wide range of CO2 (R744)-related technologies were discussed by end users and OEMs at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2024, which was held at the Tokyo Conference Center Shinagawa from February 6–7. 

ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com, organized the summit, which drew more than 150 attendees. The event, now in its 10th year, brought together OEMs, policymakers, researchers, NGOs and end users for panel discussions and case study presentations on natural refrigerant systems, equipment and policy. In addition to the more than 30 presentations, the event also featured a networking lunch attended by representatives of more than 65 organizations, including IKEA Japan, Panasonic and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. 

Below are some of the highlights from the event. 

Kim Seungjae, Baekyangsa Nonghyup, at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2024

End user highlights 

  • Kim Seungjae, Executive Director of Baekyangsa Nonghyup, which runs the South Korean supermarket chain NongHyup Hanaro Mart, presented a case study about the installation of the country’s “first ever” supermarket transcritical CO2 refrigeration system at one of its stores. Seungjae was joined by Gabriele Sernani, Manager of Oversea Sales at Italian OEM Arneg. There are 2,200 NongHyup Hanaro Mart stores in South Korea, and Seungjae called its CO2 store “the benchmark” for the others in its portfolio. 
     
  • More than 1,000 stores in the AEON Group have installed natural refrigerant systems, according to Masafumi Okuda who works in the Japanese retailer’s CSR Department. “We try to take a proactive approach to replace existing equipment with CO2,” said Okuda. “Based on our group standards, we try to select natural refrigerants for new stores. We need to find a way to completely eliminate HFCs.” 
     
  • Marine Access Corporation, a tuna fishing, processing and distribution company, touted the benefits of using natural refrigeration systems at sea. Ippei Murakami, Director and Advisor, said natural refrigerants make it possible to fish in distant parts of the ocean by enabling the catch to be stored at temperatures as low as −60°C (−76°F) for the trip back to Japan. “This ultra-low temperature is so rare,” said Murakami. “Conventional freezers use R22 or R32, which does severe damage to the environment and doesn’t contribute to our social responsibilities, so we decided to change [to CO2 and ammonia (R717)].” 
     
  • Saigan Atsushi, President of Frigo, a Japanese logistics company that operates refrigerated warehouses and distribution centers, spoke about the energy savings the company has realized from using Nihon Netsugen Systems’s Super Green CO2 condensing units equipped with heat recovery. “Heat recovery allows us to fully utilize any exhaust heat coming off of our systems, for example in dehumidification, defrost or to heat water within our warehouse,” said Atsushi. “We have been able to achieve an energy savings of 48% less than 2030 target value. Going forward, one of our goals is to apply this model to our other warehouses.” 

OEM highlights 

  • Katsuhiko Harada, President of Nihon Netsugen Systems, touted industrial CO2, saying, “There is nothing that CO2 cannot do, and you can be sure energy savings are realized without fail.” In addition, the company also presented its CO2 condensing units with heat recovery. Hiroaki Kuroishi of Nihon spoke about the inspiration behind the design, which can use waste heat for dehumidification and air conditioning. “We wanted to introduce a model case that made effective use of waste heat for other purposes,” he said. 
     
  • Toyoaki Kiya, Manager of the CDU (condensing unit) Engineering Department at Panasonic, said the company is developing more powerful condensing units to meet demand. “We started from convenience store and drug store applications, but we now have a 100HP demand, so we’re working on a larger lineup,” said Kiya. Gaku Shimada, General Manager of the CDU Engineering Department, detailed why Panasonic is bullish on CO2. “CO2 can be used permanently, which is why we recommend it,” he said. “In terms of energy efficiency, CO2 outperforms HFCs, which is the second reason why we recommend CO2.” 
     
  • Mayekawa is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2024, and Makoto Ehara, Corporate Officer at the Industrial Thermal Energy Application Department, said the company is committed to continuing to reduce CO2 emissions. “We’re going to continue evolving,” he said. 
     
  • Satyaki Das, Senior Director of Product Management for CO2 at Energy Recovery, touted the benefits of transcritical CO2 systems equipped with the company’s PX G1300 pressure exchanger. “Our installation in extreme conditions, a high-temperature application in the Californian desert, delivered about 30% peak savings during an 11-day experiment,” he said. 

“There was a question of if we will add additional measures to accelerate the HFC phaseout, and the answer is yes.”

Ayumi Kodama, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Policy highlights 

  • Ayumi Kodama from the Fluoride Gases Management Office at the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry indicated that the government may take a harsher stance against HFCs. “There was a question of if we will add additional measures to accelerate the HFC phaseout, and the answer is yes,” she said. “The key will be how we will be able to successfully switch to green refrigerants; therefore, we would like to continue supporting [natural refrigerants].” 
     
  • Teruo Kogu, Director of the Office of Fluorocarbons Control Policy at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment detailed the impact of government subsidies for natural refrigerant system installations. Kogu said revisions made for fiscal year 2023, specifically the increase in the upper reimbursement limit from one-third to one-half of construction costs, led to a 10% increase in the number of small and medium-sized enterprises receiving subsidies and a 10% increase in food retailer renovation projects. 
Harada-san, President of Nihon Netsugen Systems (Left), and Marc Chasserot, ATMOsphere CEO and Co-founder (Right), at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2024

ATMO Approved highlights 

  • Nihon Netsugen Systems is the first company in the Asia-Pacific region to receive the ATMO Approved Natural Refrigerants Label, and the company was honored for its trailblazing by ATMOsphere CEO and Co-founder Marc Chasserot at the summit. “They are a leading company in natural refrigerants with a vision to expand to Southeast Asia,” said Chasserot. Katsuhiko Harada, President of Nihon Netsugen, joined Chasserot on stage and shared what it meant for his company to receive the label. “We think this label will help our business and we want to continue moving forward with an even greater sense of responsibility,” said Harada.