The Center for Energy Technology (ZET) at the University of Bayreuth, in Bayreuth, Germany,  announced that it has provided a commercial-size air conditioning system using CO2 (R744) as the refrigerant to the Kulmbach Vocational School Center (BSZ), in Kulmbach, Germany, for vocational training and research.

The construction of the system was part of a project, called FutureClimate – Development of Sustainable Air Conditioning Concepts, conducted at ZET. The Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection funded the project with approximately €240,000 (US$242,000) for three years. 

The research work is concentrated on the use of environmentally friendly refrigerants, in particular CO2, for air conditioning in buildings. The CO2 AC will not be released to the marketplace, said Florian Heberle, Managing Director of ZET.

“The test rig and its design are strongly related to educational and research tasks,” he said. “However, we had a strong and valuable collaboration with the company Bitzer during that research project.”

CO2 air conditioners or heat pumps for buildings are relatively rare in the marketplace. One example, from Swiss OEM Biaggini Frigoriferi, are two reversible chillers installed last year at a shopping mall in Switzerland.

“The air conditioning system installed today gives pupils at BSZ access to the most up-to-date know-how research has to offer,” said Alexander Battistella, director of BSZ.  “As future specialists, they can use this system to develop an understanding of important energy technology issues that need to be solved while complying with strict ecological requirements.”

Less GHGs released

The CO2 AC system releases “considerably less greenhouse gas than conventional air  conditioning systems, and exemplifies the great ecological potential of this type of system,” said ZET.  

Assuming typical climate conditions for Germany, the greenhouse gas emissions of air conditioning systems can be reduced by around 26% through the use of CO₂, according to ZET.

Moreover, assuming the currently forecast expansion of renewable energies in the electricity sector is realized, “the CO₂ air-conditioning system will even make it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49% in 2050 compared to the current state of the art,” said Zet.

In addition, studies at ZET have showed that control strategies used in the operation of air conditioning systems can significantly influence greenhouse gas emissions.

“The air conditioning system installed today gives pupils at BSZ access to the most up-to-date know-how research has to offer.”

Alexander Battistella, Kulmbach Vocational School Center (BSZ)

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