Exclusive interview on CO2LD, Spain’s comprehensive CO2 training programme

By Pilar Aleu, Jul 15, 2014, 11:15 3 minute reading

In an exclusive interview with R744.com, Rodrigo Llopis, Professor at the University Jaume I of Castellon talks about the CO2LD training programme in Spain. The project, jointly developed by two Spanish Universities, four high schools and several companies, creates a collaborative framework among students, HVAC professionals and companies in the refrigeration sector in order to facilitate the transfer of know-how and “provides students the chance to work on different systems based on CO

R744.com: You have been working with CO2 since 2003. One of the projects where you participated, the CO2LD, involved vocational training. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?

Rodrigo Llopis: The CO2LD training programme is a joint initiative of the Jaume I University of Castellón, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, four high schools and several companies in Spain that started to run in 2011/2012. The need for education, training, and awareness of the use of new refrigerants for commercial applications, CO2 in particular, and the new technologies associated with them were key drivers for promoting the CO2LD training programme, which was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education.

During the past years our research group (www.git.uji.es) has been working with different companies (manufacturers, supermarkets) that really believe CO2 systems will be the future in Spain. However, they usually struggle to find HVAC&R professionals with experience in this refrigerant. So after several discussions with them, we decided to launch a programme that could offer technicians training on CO2 that meet the companies’ needs.

R744.com: What were the features and objectives of the CO2LD project?

Llopis: The project comprised two parts: on one hand, the instruction of advance vocational training teachers about automation, measurement, regulation, and control techniques of complex refrigeration plants; on the other, the design, build, and development of four refrigeration systems based on CO2/R134a cascade technology for each participating school.

The overall project aims to:
  • Foster the development of installations based on CO2 in Spain
  • Instruct teachers at high schools 

The training combines both theoretical and practical lessons that are first taught at University. After that, the courses are given at high schools where, through refrigeration plants, students put in practice their knowledge on regulation and control. We prefer to do the first part of training at the University because our laboratory is equipped with four CO2 transcritical systems plus one in cascade. And now we are working on CO2 as a secondary fluid. We want to provide students the chance to work on different systems based on CO2 because we think this is the future for commercial refrigeration.

R744.com: What are the results of the project?

Llopis: The project is still running and there have been a lot of activities since we started. We are very happy with the results. Three of these four systems are working and being used for training. Thanks to these installations, students have real experience on CO2, which is highly valued by companies. In particular, the University Jaume I of Castellon currently offers three courses per year, providing specialised training to around 90 participants.

In addition, we are expecting more students to come as CO2 refrigerant is becoming more known and companies are demanding well-prepared employees in this field.

R744.com: Do you think that CO2 transcritical systems will be proven to be efficient in hot climates in the next 2 years?

Llopis: Our research has shown us that pure CO2 transcritical systems are currently not competitive in hot climates for commercial refrigeration. There are other systems that are working much better, such as cascade systems, which are simpler and safer.

R744.com: We heard that there could be 100 CO2 stores in Spain within 5 years. How do you see the market for the CO2 refrigerant in Spain?

Llopis: Spain has not exploited yet the use of CO2 as a natural refrigerant. However, this is going to change soon, as CO2 cascade systems (or CO2 with a secondary fluid) are increasing rapidly. There are two key reasons for this: the approval of the new EU F-Gas Regulation that limits the use of R-404A (most used in Spain) and the new Spanish tax regime, which increases HFCs prices.

It is difficult to say how markets are going to evolve but I strongly believe that all future new installations in Spain will be based on CO2.


By Pilar Aleu

Jul 15, 2014, 11:15

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