Carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems are common in Europe and Japan, but have struggled to find acceptance in the US.
However, a recent survey conducted by the Danfoss Group found that half of American OEMs believe carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems will comprise 16% of commercial systems over the next 5 years. This number is up from a similar study in 2012, which found that less than 20% of OEMs saw CO2 reaching 16% of their sales.
While the number of installed CO2-based systems is still relatively small, the survey reports that 82% of OEMs and 91% of consultants and end-users believe carbon dioxide is now a viable mainstream technology.
“The majority of commercial refrigeration consultants and end users are today engaged in CO2 projects, citing pending legislation/regulations and corporate sustainability goals are key drivers in the decision to use CO2,.” The report states. “However, at the same time, they identified the high initial system cost as a primary barrier to deployment.”
While the acceptance of CO2 in industrial refrigeration systems is smaller than in the commercial market, the survey found that 57% of OEMs and contractors and 43% of consultants and end users indicated they have been involved in or have plans to be involved in CO2-based systems. However, the survey found that OEMS and contractors “do not foresee CO2 becoming a significant part of their business in the near future.”
Primary drivers for the increased use of CO2-based refrigeration systems include improved safety by eliminating the use of ammonia and lower life-time operating costs. Limitations to use include legislation, regulations, higher initial system costs, and contractor and end-user training.
Over the past decade, CO2 refrigerant systems have gained growing acceptance as an alternative to traditional HCFC (hydro-chlorofluorocarbon) type R22 refrigerant or ammonia-based systems in the food and food transportation industries. For example, the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Civic Centre in Quebec, Canada now uses a carbon dioxide refrigeration system to freeze the floor of the ice rinks as well as provide building heating.
The survey was conducted by email to 1,100 people in the US involved in commercial and industrial refrigeration applications.
The Danfoss Group is a global producer of products and services used in areas such as cooling food, air conditioning, heating buildings, controlling electric motors, Compressors, Drives and powering mobile machinery. According to Danfoss, their company has been involved in more than 10,000 CO2 refrigeration projects worldwide.
Image by Danfoss Group.