Transcritical CO2 systems for commercial applications are ripe for growth in Australia as new technologies continue to deliver efficiency improvements, according to food retailers, system suppliers and leading overseas manufacturers who attended ATMOsphere Australia 2017 in Sydney on 2 May.
Transcritical CO2 feasible in warm climates
Leading Australian retailers are leading investment in natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R solutions in Australia. Woolworths, for example, highlighted its commitment to adopting natural refrigerant solutions as a significant part of its sustainability strategy.
Woolworths’ head of engineering, Michael Englebright, outlined the company’s recently announced 2020 Corporate Responsibility Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to 10% below 2015 levels by 2020.
The retailer also announced plans to launch its first transcritical CO2 store, later this month.
“By mid-May, in two weeks’ time, we will be opening our first transcritical CO2 store,” said Woolworths sustainable innovations engineer, Dario Ferlin.
Ferlin detailed the challenges his team faced in planning a system that must operate in ambient temperatures of up to 45°C, but concluded by saying that they were able to overcome these challenges by properly training field teams to work with transcritical CO2.
“Transcritical CO2 is feasible for high-temperature environments,” said Ferlin.
He stressed that training is a key part of Woolworth’s execution strategy, as its goal is not just to install these systems but also to ensure that they operate sustainably.
“We aim to sustain innovation long after the opening date. We are encouraging not only our teams but the wider industry to up-skill,” Ferlin said.
“We believe we’ll be up to 25 transcritical CO2 system installations in Australia by 2020.”Mike Baker, managing director, AJ Baker & Sons
Local, international suppliers ready to support Australian market
Also in attendance were representatives of local suppliers Strathbrook Industrial Services and AJ Baker & Sons, and overseas suppliers Bitzer, SCM Frigo, Emerson, and Advansor.
Leading manufacturer SCM Frigo, which has installed more than 1,800 transcritical racks in 25 countries, discussed its experience bringing transcritical CO2 systems to warm climates.
“Both parallel compression and mechanical subcooling appear to be convenient solutions for reducing commercial refrigeration CO2 systems limits in warmer climates,” said Mirko Bernabei, technical director for SCM Frigo.
“Today the technology is ready to perform very efficiently in high ambient temperatures,” he added.
Advansor, which partners with Australia-based the Natural Refrigerants Company Pty Ltd. and which recently announced its first transcritical CO 2 installation in Australia, discussed the energy savings it had seen with its systems.
“[Transcritical CO2] technologies have a payback time of more or less one to two years for large stores in warm climates,” said Advansor Service Manager Kristian Sorensen, discussing the different solutions for transcritical CO2 in warm climates such as adiabatic cooling, parallel compression, and ejectors.
Sorensen was enthusiastic about the potential for growth in Australia: “To date we have produced 2,800 transcritical racks in 33 countries with 100+ systems in hot climates including Brazil, Egypt, Oman, Spain and Portugal.”
“Our estimated production for 2017 is 800 racks and our production capacity is 1,200 racks per year. That means we have 400 racks we can produce for Australia. C’mon guys!”
Adding to this momentum was Australia-based AJ Baker & Sons, which believes in the power of transcritical CO2 for commercial refrigeration.
“We believe we’ll be up to 25 transcritical CO2 system installations in Australia by 2020,” remarked Mike Baker, managing director of AJ Baker & Sons.
“[Transcritical CO2] has to be the system of choice not just for supermarkets but for other commercial applications as well.”