Bitzer seminar provides perfect forum for discussion of R744’s future

By Robert Davidson, Aug 05, 2015, 16:50 3 minute reading

ATMOsphere America held site visits on 24 June, the day prior to the conference, with one of these site visits being to Bitzer’s manufacturing campus, where a conference over the current and future role of R744 was discussed as the phase out of HFCs gathers pace in the U.S.

A 40-minute drive east of Atlanta, Bitzer’s manufacturing campus is off a main road but instantly you know you’re in Bitzer country. Just beyond the entrance, which showcases some of Bitzer’s precise, elegant and characteristically green compressors, Joe Sanchez, Bitzer’s Application Engineering Manager, gave a seminar on their CO2 compressors before providing a tour of their factories.

During Bitzer’s seminar, the subject of CO2 was dissected incessantly by the audience who were as informed as they were curious, discussing the role of new components, compression at transcritical temperatures and how to tackle the challenges, as well as the benefits of accepting CO2 as the refrigerant of the future.

Bitzer’s role in promoting CO2 compressors

As a company with more than 3,000 employees across 90 countries, Bitzer has a large say in shaping the international market for CO2 refrigeration. As such, there are few companies better equipped to lead a seminar on its use.

Sanchez started off his seminar by outlining the state of the industry, explaining that for those involved in the use and implementation of natural refrigerant technology:
“The industry is changing, and where there is change, there is opportunity.”

Sanchez noted that the change has seen their compressors grow in demand for both subcritical and transcritical CO2 systems. Sanchez spoke of Bitzer’s progress and how the development of the company’s third sub-critical compressor, with the range growing every year, reflects the growing number of applications open to CO2.

Sanchez clearly outlined the unique attributes CO2 presents from its “high pressure, wear on drive gear and boundary friction.”

Sanchez noted common challenges such as these that Bitzer faces in perfecting their R744 compressors, both during the design and construction phases.

Sanchez said that this re-evaluation of refrigeration equipment was going-on elsewhere, noting that system components are increasingly being geared towards CO2, with thicker walls and materials to deal with CO2’s higher pressure. Aluminum pipes were also discussed as a more apt conduit for CO2 as opposed to copper piping.

The future for CO2

During the seminar, the future of CO2 was heavily analysed with an astute observation by an attendee:
“CO2 is here forever, but we just need to get through transcritical first.”

The future of CO2 and which modifications will allow for warm ambient temperatures to reach efficiency gains similar to the impressive figures being boasted in northern regions was hot on the lips of those attending.

Sanchez noted the options that are facing the U.S. currently, pointing out four big contenders for eradicating the so-called “CO2-equator” for the use of CO2 transcritical in both industrial and commercial refrigeration:

  • Adiabatic gas coolers
  • External cooling
  • Ejector
  • Parallel Compression

But it is not just about technology; it’s about the availability of support that will be crucial, Sanchez clarified. As the skills gap between contractors and engineers remains a problem for CO2 across the entire industry, the eradication of this training gap would allow for the other benefits CO2 transcritical systems can bring to companies, such as heat reclaim and lower refrigerant costs.

And, while the seminar showed that there is still a level of uncertainty about what the future will bring in terms of challenges, it was clear that as stated by a participant: “CO2 is here to stay”.


By Robert Davidson

Aug 05, 2015, 16:50

Related stories

Sign up to our Newsletter

Fill in the details below