German OEM GEA has announced it will invest €5.5 million (US$5.95 million) to modernize production equipment at its AWP site in Prenzlau, Germany, which designs and produces valves and components for industrial refrigeration systems and valves for heat pump applications.
GEA manufactures natural refrigerant equipment, including ammonia (R717)-based compressors and heat pumps. In a press release, the company said the investment was made in response to increased demand for HVAC&R components.
The production investment includes seven new computer numerical control (CNC) machining centers and lathes. GEA reports that the upgrade will reduce machining time by up to 20% and set-up time by up to 70%. Additional advantages of the switchover include reduced space requirements, improved ergonomics and production flexibility, with the CNC machines able to be used for multiple purposes.
“At GEA AWP, efficiency and flexibility in production and development are top priorities,” said Tobias Länge, Managing Director at GEA AWP.
The modernization of the AWP site production line began last year, with the first CNC milling machine going into operation at the end of 2023. The changeover should be complete by 2026.
Components manufactured at the AWP site are used by a wide variety of companies, including those in the heat pump, chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries.
“We convince our customers [by providing] products of the highest reliability for trouble-free operation of their plants,” Länge said.
“At GEA AWP, efficiency and flexibility in production and development are top priorities.”Tobias Länge, Managing Director at GEA AWP
European heat pump demand
With the revised EU F-gas Regulation and the RePowerEU program rollout, European heat pump sales increased by 39% over the past year, said Menno van der Hoff, Chief Executive Director of Triple Aqua Consulting, during a presentation at ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe 2023. The event was held in September in Brussels and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of Ammonia21.com.
“Natural refrigerants entered the [European] heat pump market in 2023 widely and will be mature technology by 2027,” van der Hoff said.
At the same event, Raymond Decorvet, Senior Account Executive at MAN Energy Solutions, said the number of large-scale heat pump projects is rising.
“Heat pumps are increasingly relevant,” Decorvet said.
According to Decorvet, five years ago the largest heat pump projects had capacities of 5–10MW (1,421–2,843TR). He said that in 2020, MAN began working on a 50MW (14,217TR) district heating project in Denmark that used two of its 30MW (7,108TR) heat pumps and is currently tackling a heat pump project with 500MW (142,173TR) output demand.
In 2022, Sabroe, a Johnson Controls International brand, said it was developing heat pumps and compressors to meet growing customer demand for high-temperature high-capacity heating systems based on natural refrigerants like ammonia. “We’ve got a real push to extend the capacities around our heat pumps to serve district heating and larger industrial applications,” said Ian Reynell, Vice President of Business Operations at Johnson Controls, during an interview with Ammonia21.com at Chillventa in Nuremberg, Germany.