GUIDE China makes strong case for CO2 in Chinese industrial applications by 2020

By Robert Davidson, Jun 09, 2015, 17:26 3 minute reading

In shecco’s recently published GUIDE to Natural Refrigerants in China – State of the Industry 2015, there is an encouraging assessment of the use of natural refrigerants in the industrial refrigeration sector. With a growing percentage of CO2 cascade systems beginning to appear throughout China and benefits of cascade systems becoming more well-known, the sector is becoming increasingly geared to its future use.

The GUIDE to Natural Refrigerants in China – State of the Industry 2015 presented the business cases for five key sectors in China, these were; light commercial, commercial and industrial refrigeration in addition to CO2 heat pumps and the use of R290 in room air conditioning. The GUIDE survey that collected the views of nearly 1,100 respondents showed that that industrial refrigeration has the best current, and future, market and policy climate out of all five applications.

When asked how they expect the use of natural refrigerants to change by 2020, 79% responded that they expect the use to increase, 18% indicated they believe it will stay the same and just 3% foresee a reduction in the use of natural refrigerants in industrial refrigeration applications. This, along with the data collected and interviews with pertinent stakeholders, painted a clear picture: the use of natural refrigerants will increase in the future for China’s industrial refrigeration sector.

CO2 cascade systems are on the map

Independent data collection from shecco found that by December 2015 there will be at least 34 projects across China using CO2 as a refrigerant in industrial applications. These applications range from cold storage to artificial ski halls and signify the growing relevance of CO2 as a secondary refrigerant or in cascade systems used alongside NH3 or fluorinated gases.

The confidence in the future potential of CO2 can be seen in the GUIDE survey results, which ranked the use of CO2 in industrial refrigeration as the 2nd best market for future use – while ammonia was 3rd. Talking about now, the message is equally auspicious with ammonia currently ranked 2nd out 11 applications and CO2 3rd.

Reduction of ammonia charge, safety and energy efficiency seen as key drivers

Aside from the obvious environmental advantages of utilising CO2 as a refrigerant, the properties of the natural refrigerant ensure other benefits when used in cascade systems, particularly alongside ammonia. The use of a CO2/NH3 cascade system can effectively reduce the ammonia charge by as much as 90% compared to an ammonia system. This means it is possible to apply natural refrigerant-only systems in applications such as cold storage facilities, where direct ammonia systems are not feasible due to charge limitations. Cascade systems also add improvements to safety by allowing for the ammonia to be confined to an engine room, with limited access for cold storage staff, lowering the risk of food contamination.

As well as reducing the ammonia charge and increasing safety, the use of CO2 cascade systems increases energy efficiency compared to older systems, lowering energy bills for owners. Such areas where the move towards state-of-the-art systems can reap rewards include: the optimisation of controls and installation of new components such as the condenser, evaporator and compressor. However, while these trends signal great leaps for the sector, interviewees stressed the importance of the Chinese Government staying up-to-speed on these recent technological advancements. Professor Ma Yitai of Tianijn University explained that: “Due to the rapid development of China’s economy, and subsequently, its food cold storage technology, the existing national regulations and technology standards might not be sufficient in light of recent development trends. Experts should revise the relevant standard and regulations for ammonia refrigeration systems.”


By Robert Davidson

Jun 09, 2015, 17:26

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