Indian Ammonia DX System for Cold Storage Selected for ASHRAE-UNEP Award

Indian Ammonia DX System for Cold Storage Selected for ASHRAE-UNEP Award


ASHRAE and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have announced the project selections for the 2023 ASHRAE-UNEP OzonAction Lower-GWP Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Innovation Awards, including a low-charge DX ammonia (R717) system for cold storage designed by Indian consultants.

The annual international award program promotes innovative design, research and practice by recognizing people who have developed or implemented “innovative technological concepts applied in developing countries to promote lower GWP refrigerants through refrigeration and air-conditioning applications,” said ASHRAE and UNEP in a statement.

In addition to the ammonia systems, three systems using hydrocarbons were chosen.

“The projects selected represent long-term, global and energy-efficient solutions to lessen the impact of ozone-depleting substances,” said Ginger Scoggins, 2023–24 ASHRAE President and Co-Chair of the Judging Committee. “We congratulate the selected project teams and look forward to witnessing their innovative concepts set a benchmark for sustainability in developing countries.”

The ammonia system is the brainchild of Harshal Surange, Director and CEO of ACR Project Consultants, based in Pune, India, and Arvind Surange, Chairman and Managing Director of ACR Project Consultants.

ASHRAE and UNEP describe the project as “multipurpose cold storage utilizing a low-charge DX ammonia system with air-cooled condensers and electronic expansion valves, a first of its kind in India.” By using ammonia as a refrigerant, the project has a positive environmental impact, while reducing water consumption and energy consumption through the use of adiabatic pre-cooling systems, the groups added.

Three main features of the system include:

  • An air-cooled condenser, which uses adiabatic cooling that starts when the ambient temperature exceeds 32°C (89.6°F). This avoids high condensing pressures for ammonia.
  • The ability to convert storage chambers, based on market demand, to low or positive temperatures without increasing energy cost.
  • A dry cooler with adiabatic pre-cooling of the condenser inlet air. This is used for compressor jacket cooling to avoid excessive use of water and keep the compressor jacket corrosion free.

Award criteria

The projects in each category were selected based on delivering innovative solutions to meet refrigeration and air-conditioning needs by using lower-GWP technologies. The selection criteria included:

  • Extent of need.
  • Innovative aspects in transforming conventional practices.
  • Technical replicability to developing countries.

Judges also accounted for economic feasibility when possible, considering that growing acceptance of new technologies will favorably influence cost and availability, said ASHRAE and UNEP.

“We are living at a watershed moment under the Montreal Protocol when developing countries must find long-term solutions to replace HCFC refrigerants while simultaneously minimizing climate impacts,” said James S. Curlin, Head of UNEP OzonAction and Co-Chair of the Judging Committee. “It is vital to empower the research community to identify new approaches and alternative refrigerants that work for those countries. UNEP OzonAction is proud to join with ASHRAE to recognize these winners who are proposing approaches that address the ozone, climate and energy dimensions.”

Other efforts in Global South

Other efforts to bring natural refrigerant-based technologies to the Global South are being made by the Green Cooling Initiative (GCI), a global initiative that focuses on the promotion of sustainable cooling globally.

GCI is run by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), a service provider of the German government that supports sustainable development in more than 100 countries around the world. GCI is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). It is part of GIZ Proklima, an umbrella of projects funded by the German government, the EU, the French government and other donors in support of green cooling worldwide since 1995.

“GCI supports the adoption of RAC and heat pump technology that uses natural refrigerants, high energy efficiency and renewables if possible,” said Philipp Denzinger, Project Manager of the GCI. 

GCI is seeking new manufacturer members for its Green Cooling Network, an alliance of key players in RAC (refrigeration and air-conditioning) sector. The Green Cooling Network is designed to “bring together industry and governments” in an effort to “promote green cooling globally,” via public-private partnerships, explained Denzinger. 

The Green Cooling Network offers manufacturers of natural refrigerant products opportunities to implement them in the Global South where such technologies are in short supply, noted Denzinger. “We are aiming to establish supply chains between technology providers and the Global South.”

“The projects selected represent long-term, global and energy-efficient solutions to lessen the impact of ozone-depleting substances.”

Ginger Scoggins, 2023–24 ASHRAE President

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