Signaling Panasonic‘s continued push into the European market, the company has announced the development of a new 10 HP CO2 outdoor condensing unit (OCU) designed for use in Europe.

The unit, targeted at small format food retailers, will begin selling this April.

Already in widespread use in Japan, the system has been tailored for the European market and will be available in 2 specifications: standard and heavy duty. 

“While taking full advantage of the abundant know-how cultivated in Japan, we are complying with various regulations and safety standards required in Europe,” said the company in a press release (in Japanese).

Continuing push for small format CO2 condensing units in Europe

The announcement follows several developments regarding the introduction of Panasonic’s smaller 2 HP unit in Europe last year.

This unit was exhibited at Climatizacion y Refrigeracion in Madrid in March and InterClima in Paris in November.

Earlier this month, Panasonic announced that the unit would begin selling in the UK.

UK Panasonic distributor, Green Cooling & Green Thermal Energy, announced that its first UK installations of Panasonic CO2 units were already underway.

The release of the new 10 HP CO2 unit, signals Panasonic’s continued push for its small format CO2 units in Europe, where it has identified an opportunity to target small stores.

“Last summer, we introduced our 2 HP CO2 CDU to the European market, targeting prefabricated freezers and refrigerators for small stores,” according to the company’s press release.

“By introducing our new 10 HP model, we can expand the range of our offering of HFC-free systems to small shops that operate multiple refrigerated showcases, prefabricated freezers and refrigerators.”

Panasonic is already very active in North America, Japan, China, and APAC in terms of sales for food retail equipment.

Overall sales for its food retail equipment business division for these regions (including supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, logistics facilities and beverage machines) topped $2.5 billion in 2017.

In Japan, the company boasts a total of 8,500 CO2 condensing units installed at 3,100 stores as of March 2018.

Advancing CO2 tech globally

Shigeru Dohno, managing director for Panasonic Appliances Company’s food retail equipment business division sees the push for CO2 condensing units in Europe as an important part of the company’s wider plans for the technology globally.

During his presentation at the ATMOsphere Japan 2018 conference, held last February in Tokyo, Japan, explained the company’s plans for technology and market development over the next few years.

“We as Panasonic want to promote natural refrigerant solutions to meet the [Kigali targets],” said Dohno.

While, Dohno stated that the 2 HP unit was already being sold in Europe and that the 10 HP unit would begin sales in April 2018, he also revealed that plans are underway to make 15 and 20 HP units along with possibly transcritical CO2 rack systems available in Europe, targeting supermarkets, large cold storage facilities, and food processing plants.

“At the moment, our natural refrigerant products are supplied to supermarkets and convenience stores. We want to expand our portfolio to include large-scale systems for logistics companies and warehouse companies,” said Dohno.

“We want to make a CO2 family.”

In addition, Panasonic in investing in research and development for its CO2 products through partnerships with Japan-based R&D firms.

For example, it is currently developing a water-cooled CO2 condensing unit with heat reclaim through its partnership with Japanese R&D firm Food Techno Engineering.

The company has also developed a 30 HP system allowing the system to be used in supermarket or hypermarket applications.

Dohno also explained that Panasonic is introducing simpler control systems in a bid to increase its customer base by making its technology more accessible.

“The use of CO2 requires complex pressure control systems, so, starting next year, we will be making it more simple for other devices to connect to our CO2 systems,” he said.

Panasonic CO2 Condensing Unit specifications:

Two models: Standard (OCU-CR1000VF8) and Heavy Duty (OCU-CR1000VF8SL)

Refrigerant: R744 (CO2)

Evaporation temperature range: -20°C to -5°C

Unit Rated Output: 7.3 kW (Cooling capacity 15kW @ -5° ET)

Compressor: Two-stage rotary compression with DC inverter

Press release available here (in Japanese)

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