The incoming Director General of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), Yosr Allouche, has big plans for the organization, with a focus on the cooling sector. Allouche – who will be the first woman to lead the IIR – described her ideas to ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com, on the sidelines of the 35th Meeting of the Parties (MOP35) to the Montreal Protocol, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from October 23 to 27.

Allouche is currently the Head of Projects at the IIR and is also a Visiting Associate Professor in Refrigeration at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). In addition to her vision for the IIR, she discussed the EU’s revised F-gas Regulation and her takeaways on MOP35.

ATMOsphere: Yosr, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. You are currently an Associate Professor in Refrigeration at NTNU and Head of Projects at the IIR. How long have you been in both roles?

Yosr Allouche: I have been working in the refrigeration industry for over 10 years, focusing mainly on CO2 (R744) transcritical systems, ejector modeling and thermal energy storage using phase change materials, among other research topics. At NTNU, I lecture and supervise Ph.D. candidates developing their theses and had the pleasure to work with Professor Armin Hafner at the Department of Energy and Process Engineering, a reference in the field. I joined the IIR two years ago as Head of Projects, where I have mainly coordinated the implementation of clean and energy-efficient solutions in projects in the cold chains of developing countries.

ATMOsphere: What has been your impression of MOP35?

Y.A.: This is my first MOP, and as a scientist, I tend to focus more on the technologies than the policymaking process. Nevertheless, it has been a very informative experience and has given me a sneak peek into the future of the industry, which is being shaped by ambitious international policies. It is also a chance to exchange with countries’ representatives and learn about the state-of-the art technology in their markets.

Generally, the trend is evident toward the adoption of energy-efficient solutions, low- and zero-GWP refrigerant-based technologies. The topic of per- and polyfluoroalkyls substances (PFAS) is also in the mind of many delegates who are asking for much more research into this. ATMOsphere’s side event on this topic was very informative: There is a clear presence of these chemicals in the blood of people and their drinking water, and the issue in relation to refrigerants must be taken seriously, thoroughly analyzing all precursors of and effects from exposure to PFAS.

ATMOsphere: Regarding R744, some high ambient temperature (HAT) countries are still claiming it does not perform efficiently below a certain ”equator.” What is your take on this?

Y.A.: This threshold is disappearing thanks to technological advancements. This is an old map that does not exist anymore thanks to very smart people who have solved this issue, allowing the adoption of R744 in many HAT regions.  

ATMOsphere: The new EU F-gas Regulation seems to have been finally agreed upon with the publication of the provisional agreement between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. How do you think this piece of legislation will affect the development of the refrigeration industry?

Y.A.: I think it is giving time for all stakeholders in the industry to accomplish a needed smooth transition. This is very important in my opinion because the market and social acceptance of new technologies must be there. I have been looking at the provisions of the Regulation, and from my perspective it is a very good plan. I am optimistic about its success.

ATMOsphere: You have been recently nominated as the future Director General of the IIR. How and where will you steer the Institute in the future, and what is your vision for it?

Y.A.: The work that Didier Coulomb [the current Director General of the IIR] has done so far has been great, and it was not easy. The sector was undervalued until 2019. It was only then that the refrigeration and cooling sectors started to assume a greater importance.

Now I am doing a one-year handover with Didier, and he is very supportive. The clear focus now is on cooling, and, in my opinion, the IIR needs to take an active role in serving both the sector and our member countries, supporting them in their transition.

We have been an independent, international academic institute since 1908 and have a wealth of knowledge, which we are happy to provide to industry players. I want to make our material available to raise awareness on the importance of this critical technology.

Projects supporting education and knowledge transfer will also be more prominent in our work, held in the language of the beneficiaries. I also aim to make the IIR the first go-to advisor for governments when discussing technologies to invest in and implement in the local refrigeration industry.

I am ambitious, but we have all the tools and the support of a network of experts to make this happen.