In Japan, the natural refrigerant CO2 has generally been used in small systems for smaller format applications. Following the debut of Panasonic’s new 30 HP CO2 condensing unit, other developments now indicate a trend towards installing CO2 systems in larger retail store formats too. reports from the ATMOsphere Japan 2017 conference in Tokyo.

Food Technology Academy to accelerate CO2 R&D

In the Japanese city of Osaka, R&D firm Food Technology Engineering Co. Ltd announced the opening of the Food Technology Academy last month. The academy’s sole goal is to advance the deployment of natural refrigerant systems in Japan and enhance CO2 training and know-how with a focus on safety.

The academy includes a testing facility that is a fully functioning reproduction of a food processing plant. Here, companies can test fully operational CO2 systems in a simulated food-manufacturing environment, with the ability to collect data and make adjustments in real time.

The facility also includes a training centre to share knowledge.

CAREL trials large compressor rack in Osaka

Italian firm CAREL, in collaboration with the Food Technology Academy, helped to develop and test a tunnel freezer at the academy’s testing facility.

The transcritical CO2 system features a rack with two low-temperature and two medium-temperature Bitzer compressors. The Academy reports good results so far, with 11-12% energy savings compared to standard R404A systems.

The tunnel freezer is designed to be scalable for use from small format stores to large supermarkets. It is slated for launch in April 2017.

Project lead Katsunori Shibata, president of CAREL Japan, told ATMOsphere Japan participants: “Because of your efforts here today, the introduction of natural refrigerants is being accelerated. We hope to contribute to this acceleration through our efforts as well.”

Panasonic testing 20 HP CO2 water-cooling system

Panasonic announced the testing of a 20 HP CO2 water chilling system at the same Food Technology Academy facility in Osaka.

In line with Panasonic’s plans to expand its CO2 line up for supermarkets, department stores and food processing facilities, the unit is scheduled for release in early 2018.

“We are collaborating with the Food Technology Academy in Osaka, to help us test and verify the system before we introduce this product to the market,” said Hidekazu Tachibana, general manager at Panasonic.

“While in Europe, everyone is dealing in larger systems like rack and big industrial systems, in Japan, everyone started with a smaller system.

Inderpaul Saund, Danfoss

As the food retail market in Europe shifts towards smaller store formats and hence smaller CO2 systems, the opposite trend is taking root in Japan.

Inderpaul Saund, food retail business development manager at Danfoss, commented: “While in Europe, everyone is dealing in larger systems like rack and big industrial systems, in Japan, everyone started with a smaller system.”

Saund continued: “We are now seeing the reverse happening in Japan. Larger systems are now becoming of interest, so it is an interesting time.”

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