Known since its founding in 1971 as the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, the U.S.-based IIAR is now “doing business as (dba)” the International Institute of All-Natural Refrigeration, reflecting its expanded focus on all natural refrigerants, including CO2 (R744) and hydrocarbons as well as ammonia (R717), in both industrial and commercial refrigeration.
IIAR’s legal name continues to include “Ammonia,” but the trade group is using “All-Natural” in its website, including in its logo. This use of the dba name was approved during the IIAR’s June 2023 board meeting, and it applied for a trademark for the name in July 2023, said Eric M. Smith, Vice President and Technical Director for the IIAR, based in Alexandria, Virginia. In October 2023 IIAR created a new “brand standard” manual, keeping its legacy IIAR logo, but also creating new logos showing the acronym with the full dba name, he added.
The name change derives from the evolution of the IIAR as a trade group, which began with a focus on industrial applications but now also includes commercial applications.
“While our original mission had been to support the use of ammonia in large-scale refrigeration systems, IIAR and its members have always been keen on the use all natural refrigerants for both industrial and commercial applications,” Smith explained. “Our name change was implemented to help people become more aware of this fact and to entice more interest and participation in the continued technical development and promotion of the full range of natural refrigerants.”
The majority of IIAR’s educational programs, standards and publications are about ammonia, but that is because for its first 35 years the organization focused mainly on industrial ammonia applications. “Since the 2000s and especially after 2010, the focus has shifted to all naturals,” Smith said. “It just takes time to develop standards, publications and training for the other main-use natural refrigerants,” such as CO2 and hydrocarbons.
“So creating this dba name was a way to maintain the recognition of the well-established brand and logo but be able to better market what has been our true mission and vision for the past two decades,” Smith added.
With regard to CO2, IIAR members began using the gas “a couple of decades ago,” initially in industrial systems. “IIAR published papers, case studies, developed the CO2 handbook and fomented engineering training sessions early in the 2010s that provided a technical jumpstart to the more widespread use of CO2 systems we witness today,” he said. In 2021, IIAR published its first safety standard for CO2 refrigeration.
As a member-driven professional society and trade association, IIAR is directed entirely by its membership, noted Smith. For example, it was manufacturers and end users of CO2 equipment that led the development of the IIAR CO2 safety standard. The current development of the IIAR hydrocarbon standard was inspired by the recognition that “these refrigerants could be applied when and where larger-scale systems are needed and where CO2 or ammonia might not be considered desirable for various reasons.”
In its vision and mission statements, IIAR refers to the use of natural refrigerants. Moreover, observed Smith, neither the mission or vision statement mentions their use only in industrial applications. “Within the past three years, both the IIAR board and the foundation have made minor adjustments to both the vision and mission, but in all these changes, the boards have maintained the focus of IIAR and our foundation to be on all natural refrigerants with no push to return only to industrial ammonia.”
In 2022, IIAR implemented a similar change – both legally and promotionally – to the name of its nonprofit education, research and training foundation, from the Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation (ARF) to the Natural Refrigeration Foundation (NRF). “The change was made for similar reasons as the recent IIAR dba, but we completely changed the acronym because we felt that ARF had minimal brand recognition,” explained Smith. IIAR also updated the NRF’s mission to be focused on all of the natural refrigerants and all industries.