A new umbrella research project funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to support the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector in India in transitioning toward more environmentally friendly technology, including CO2 (R744) systems.

The project, called Future Refrigeration India (INDEE+), was launched in the fall, and will continue through 2024. It succeeds a similar project, INDEE.

The INDEE+ project wants to “achieve the goals of the ratified Kigali Amendment,” which calls for the global phase down of HFC refrigerants, said the website of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the project’s coordinator.  India ratified the Kigali Amendment in September.

INDEE+ consists of multiple partners. In Norway these include NTNU, the Norwegian Environmental Agency (NEA), SINTEF Energy Research and SINTEF Ocean. In India, the partners are the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) and the Biria Institute of Technology and Science.

According to NTNU, the aim of INDEE+ is to “coordinate actions, deliver training courses and demonstration sites to transfer knowledge to the decision makers within the different sectors.” In addition, it will identify key regulatory hurdles for low-GWP refrigerants, so that they can “be made accessible and affordable in the Indian market.”

INDEE+ will encompass “several CO2 demonstrations,” said Armin Hafner, Professor of Refrigeration in the Department of Energy and Process Engineering at NTNU, who is INDEE+’s Head of Project.

Leapfrogging to R744

One area of focus is the maritime sector, where “Norwegian vendors and process industry are spearheading the utilization of CO2 refrigeration technology, both onboard on fishing vessels and also in on-shore installations,” said Hafner. “This know-how we would like to transfer to India so they can leapfrog straight from R22 towards R744.”

Last week, The Hindu reported that CIFT had been brought into the INDEE+ project to help with the transition in the seafood sector. “This project intends to promote CO2-based refrigeration and heating systems and replace the current refrigerants with natural, clean and safe refrigerants,” the article said.  

The second focus area in INDEE+ is the hotel sector, “where we see a lot of possibilities for CO2 heat pump chillers,” said Hafner. “There will be some demo sites integrated in hotels soon.”

INDEE+ will also address the supermarket sector in India. “We are having discussions with leading chains to identify the location for the first [CO2] installations,” said Hafner.

Unlike previous HVAC&R projects in the country, all the systems will be made in India. “We support the local vendors to be able to supply these systems to demanding end users, who understand the need for natural solutions and are willing to do this in their backyard,” he added.

The Indian partner institutions are hiring two scientists, a PhD and a post-doc, who will work only on INDEE+ tasks. CEEW, an NGO, will pursue further action by the Indian government “so India can achieve the Glasgow (COP26) commitment with respect to the refrigeration sector maybe much faster,” said Hafner.

“We support the local vendors to be able to supply these systems to demanding end users, who understand the need for natural solutions and are willing to do this in their backyard.”

Armin Hafner, NTNU

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