Japanese cold storage operator Kawai Ice & Cold Storage Co. (Kawai Ice) is continuing to see a significant energy-use reduction with its installation of transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems at one of its distribution and logistics centers in Fukuoka, Japan.

The company conducted a recent interview with Accelerate Japan, published by shecco, publisher of this website.

On June 1, 2018, Kawai Ice completed the installation of ten “Super Green”CO2 transcritical systems, supplied by Tokyo-based manufacturer Nihon Netsugen Systems (NNS), at its No. 2 Distribution Center located in Fukuoka, Japan. The facility uses 8 separate F-2 68kW (19TR) units at -25°C and 2 separate C-2 87kW (25TR) units at +5°C.

After three years of operation, Kawai Ice President and Representative Director Yoshifumi Kawai found that the facility significantly outperformed the average energy performance of similar cold storage facilities in Japan.

“The so-called ‘2020 problem’, when new production of R22 will be terminated, posed a greater risk to us than expected,”

Yoshifumi Kawai, Kawai Ice President

Kawai Ice is a member of Japan’s Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (JARW). The facilities energy use data, according to Kawai, was compared to the average energy performance of other members of JARW.

Overall energy use of Kawai Ice’s No. 2 Distribution Center was around 58% lower than that of similar sized facilities and about 50% lower than the average energy use of all JARW members, Kawai said.

Kawai Ice & Cold Storage No. 2 Distribution Center, Fukuoka, Japan

“The so-called ‘2020 problem’, when new production of R22 will be terminated, posed a greater risk to us than expected,” said Kawai. “What we needed was support from the manufacturer in case of any trouble. Nihon Netsugen Systems had enough compressors in stock and had a maintenance system in place so we determined that we could use them with peace of mind.”

According to JARW survey data from 2019, presented by Shigekatsu Koganemaru, Vice Chairman of JARW’s Environment and Safety Committee during the ATMOsphere Japan 2021 conference, a little over 53% of JARW members currently use R22.

There are an increasing number of case studies featuring natural refrigerant use in Japan’s cold storage industry. According to the JARW survey, the rate of natural refrigerant use has increased from 15.0% to 36.7% since 2011. Among the natural refrigerant systems used in 2019, ammonia/CO2 systems had the largest share at 67.0%. Ammonia direct expansion (DX) systems accounted for 29.4%, whileCO2 systems accounted for 3.35% (doubling from 1.3% in 2018).