ATMO Australia: 'Share knowledge to expand NatRef market'

Raising awareness of the availability and benefits of natural refrigerant technology options is key to growing the market, heard ATMOsphere Australia participants today.

Raising awareness of the availability and benefits of natural refrigerant technology options among contractors and end users is key to growing the market and reaching new customers, heard participants at the ATMOsphere Australia conference in Sydney today.

“There is a huge need for greater awareness of the technology transformation that will be triggered by the HFC phasedown – right here, right now,” said Stefan Jensen of Scantec Refrigeration Technologies, which specialises in industrial refrigeration with ammonia and CO2.

More must be done to raise awareness of the market implications of the Kigali HFC phasedown and ensure that high-GWP systems are no longer installed in Australia, Jensen argued. “The education and training needs are enormous,” he told the Luna Park audience.

“Everyone in this room knows about it, but the vast majority of the 170,000-odd people involved in the HVACR&R industry in Australia don’t,” Jensen said. “We need much greater awareness across the board,” he said, calling for more collaboration between technology suppliers, contractors and end users.

Australia’s federal and state governments, meanwhile, must do more to remove regulatory barriers to natural-refrigerant adoption, according to Jensen.

Expanding the audience via education, knowledge-sharing and technology is an ongoing and important trend moving forward.
– Douglas Herkess, Heatcraft

Refrigerant choice 'primary discussion' for regulatory compliance

In other global markets, natural-refrigerant growth is being driven by a combination of regulation (such as the EU F-Gas Regulation in Europe and the SNAP program in the United States) and taxation or subsidies (such as emissions trading or carbon price schemes).

“Refrigerant choice is becoming a primary discussion with customers” as end users demand cost-effective, reliable and future-proof HVAC&R solutions, said Douglas Herkess from Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration.

Herkess urged suppliers to partner with contractors to talk to end users and “provide compelling success stories to make end users comfortable with saying ‘yes’”.

“Almost everyone in this room is a believer in the potential for natural refrigerants and the opportunities that they create for the HVAC&R industry,” he said. “But we only represent a small percentage of the total industry.”

“Expanding the audience via education, knowledge-sharing and technology is an ongoing and important trend moving forward,” he said. “We need to improve understanding of how we deal with this technology” to help reduce the HVAC&R sector’s environmental footprint, he argued.

Up-skilling tradespeople key to future growth

On the technology side, suppliers’ efforts to improve system efficiency in warm climates will help to increase market uptake of natural refrigerants in Australia, according to Herkess. He cited market trends towards “ready to run” solutions and integrated systems that provide both refrigeration and HVAC among the primary drivers of natural-refrigerant growth in Australia.

Peter O’Neill from Mayekawa Australia Pty. Ltd. highlighted the need to raise awareness among HVAC&R technicians that natural refrigerants are taking a bigger market share. Training and up-skilling of current and future tradespeople is therefore crucially important, he argued.

O’Neill urged the government to help fund energy-efficient natural refrigerant projects in the years to come.

Trent Miller from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Air Conditioners Australia (MHIAA), meanwhile, highlighted the company’s efforts to train technicians and installers on working with natural refrigerant-based systems.

We’re all here to achieve a common goal: making a success of natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R solutions here in Australia.
– Andrew Reid, Arneg 

'Education, education, education'

Mads Holst Nielsen from Danfoss cited CO2 as a global solution that is applicable in all climates. “CO2 is moving down into smaller systems,” he said. “It’s also moving into industrial applications,” he added, arguing that it is becoming increasingly competitive with low-charge ammonia in this regard.

Advansor, another Danish multinational, is convinced that CO2 has a bright future in industrial applications as well as commercial where its use is already more entrenched.

“This technology is growing and growing,” said Ian Tuena of the Natural Refrigerants Company, which represents Advansor in Australia. “We’re moving forward – we’re no longer in the learning phase. We’re in the refinement phase.”

“Education, education, education – that’s the key issue, especially among end users,” Tuena said.

As components become more readily available, the cost of CO2 systems will continue to fall, predicted Andrew Reid from Arneg Oceania Pty. Ltd.

“We’re all here to achieve a common goal: making a success of natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R solutions here in Australia,” Reid said.

As for hydrocarbons, Marek Zgliczynski of compressor manufacturer Embraco highlighted their growing penetration in the light commercial refrigeration sector. "Our tests show that propane (R290) beats A2Ls in terms of efficiency and thermal level," he said.

“But there are still legislative barriers to wider use of hydrocarbons,” said Zgliczynski, whi chairs an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) committee working to increase the charge limits imposed on hydrocarbons by international standards.

Click here for live coverage of ATMOsphere Australia 2018 on Medium.

By Andrew Williams

May 07, 2018, 02:45




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