Hillphoenix play a large role in driving the North American market to CO2-only solutions. Fortunately, part of what’s driving the North American market currently is the solid performance of transcritical systems installed by early adopters:
“CO2 transcritical has been proven to deliver a 2-5 year payback for typical applications, and will be dropping to 2-3 years for average climates. It’s a viable economic solution, close to parity [with conventional systems]” noted Navarro de Andrade
From an energy consumption point of view, transcritical systems have performed better than conventional DX systems in northern climates. By contrast, in southern climates, where higher ambient temperatures may drive the systems into supercritical mode, they are prone to operate less efficiency. However, Hillphoenix is demonstrating with a transcritical installation in Georgia that the system can still perform well in a southern climate using an adiabatic gas cooler.
Hillphoenix has developed other technology – an ejector system and parallel compression — that can also maintain the efficiency of a transcritical CO2 system. This year the company sold its first transcritical system with these components to a store in Europe. “We’re probably a couple of years from commercialising ejector technology in the U.S.,” said Navarro de Andrade.
Driving out the fear
The positive results obtained at the Georgia store and elsewhere help supermarkets and other end users overcome their apprehension about replacing traditional commercial refrigeration technology with a transcritical system, said Navarro de Andrade.
“We’re driving out the fear by proving the performance, validating the reliability and support capability and making it bullet-proof,” he said. “This starts getting more skeptical folks to understand that this is a real, viable solution.
” Hillphoenix is helping to lower the cost of transcritical systems by incorporating new components. However, in some cases the company has been frustrated by its inability to get less costly components, widely used in Europe, UL-certified in the U.S. “We’re working on that with component suppliers and the regulatory/certification agencies,” said Navarro de Andrade.
At the same time, Hillphoenix is expanding its transcritical product portfolio. Prior to the ATMOsphere America 2015 conference in Atlanta in late June, the company provided a sneak preview at its headquarters of a new lower-cost system that “lends itself to smaller-format stores,” he said. The modular unit, which will be released this year, has a narrower set of features than Hillphoenix’s typical transcritical system.
Navarro de Andrade acknowledged that the skill level of contractors, technicians and designer engineers with respect to transcritical technology remains a challenge for the industry. “It’s a new technology for most of them,” he said.
To meet this challenge, Hillphoenix has invested heavily in a Learning Center at its headquarters. In addition to a prepackaged curriculum, the company also creates a tailor-made program to meet the specific training needs of end users. In the nine years since it opened the Learning Center, Hillphoenix has trained more than 23,000 people, including end user customers, contractors and design engineers.
Hillphoenix is also working with colleges and schools on training students. Its new technology requires new skills and is more disruptive of the status quo, making it potentially “more interesting for younger folks” as the industry tries to replace an aging workforce, said Navarro de Andrade.