Wednesday, 31 July 2013

First propane supermarket opens in USA

USA: What is claimed to be the first US supermarket to use propane refrigerant has opened in Austin, Texas.

The new 83,000ft2 H E Butt Grocery Company (H-E-B) store is using integral Hussmann display cabinets and coolers with Tecumseh AE2 compressors.

Hussmann is said to have worked closely with H-E-B and several US government and safety agencies in developing the regulations and approval processes to enable the safe use of propane in a supermarket application. This included optimizing equipment designs based on EPA limitations of 150g per system.

“In view of the fact that we were using propane, safety was always our top priority - from the store personnel, to the customers in the store, as well as the perishables in the refrigerated display merchandisers,” said Norm Street, Hussmann’s director new technology development,

“Our ultimate goal with this project is a 70% energy reduction from all the store systems,” commented Charlie Wernette, H-E-B’s director of engineering. “We believe that a R290 hydrocarbon (propane) system will achieve approximately 50% energy reduction compared to our typical store refrigeration load. We wanted to find another natural refrigerant alternative as we are not convinced that CO2 is the long term solution for H-E-B,” he added.

A majority of the display cases and walk-in coolers utilize Tecumseh condensing units, over 40% of which are equipped with the company’s new AE2 series compressor.

Calling on over ten years of hydrocarbon application and compressor knowledge, Tecumseh took extra precautions to minimize potential refrigerant leak points, while still ensuring ease of serviceability. The reduced sound level of the AE2 compressor was also seen as another benefit, when used in self-contained display cases.

A privately-owned San Antonio-based supermarket chain, H-E-B has more than 350 stores throughout Texas and northern Mexico. Central Market, an organic and fine foods retailer is also part of the group. Total revenue in 2012 was over $18bn.

Schneider Electric agrees deal to buy Invensys

UK: Controls and software company Invensys, with its well-known acr brands Ranco, Eliwell and Eberle, has agreed a £3.4bn bid by French company Schneider Electric.

Under the deal confirmed today, Schneider Electric says it plans to combine Invensys with its existing Industry division. The transaction will also give Schneider Electric’s Industry division an increased exposure to the North American market.

Announcing the deal, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, chairman and ceo of Schneider Electric, said: “The addition of Invensys' businesses will considerably strengthen Schneider Electric's overall offering to its industrial and infrastructure customer base, reinforcing us as a global leader in energy management solutions integrating power and automation, as well as leading software for customer efficiency. The transaction will allow Schneider Electric to benefit from increased scale and realise substantial synergy benefits from the combination.”

Schneider sees the deal creating increased revenues of around €400m per annum by 2018 and around €65m extra in profits. To achieve this, Schneider says it plans cost savings of around €140m per year by 2016 through “structural and administrative cost savings, efficiency gains at country and regional levels and synergies on procurement and production costs

Invensys employs more than 16,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in London, it has offices in Worthing and Crawley, as well as three offices in the USA.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Comparison study tackles chilled beam confusion

UK: A new document comparing the efficiencies of chilled beams and fan coils is designed to raise awareness of chilled beams and tackle confusion in the market, according to its publishers. 

Speaking at the publication’s launch in London, yesterday (Monday), the Chilled Beam and Ceiling Association chairman Andrew Jackson said that feedback from the market indicated that people didn’t understand chilled beams.

Clearly aware of the criticism that the document had drawn from fan coil manufacturers, he explained that in publishing the report the CBCA was trying to set a standard. “It’s a phase 1 comparison,” he said. “We wanted to go to the market and have the debate.”

The Technical Fact Sheet 2 is one of a number of similar documents to be produced by the association in an effort to be more proactive in the market. A new study looking at life-cycle analyses is scheduled for publication in January.

Based on modeling by EDSL Tas software, the study looks at four differently-sized office buildings in London and Birmingham with all three hvac systems being supplied by a high efficiency chiller. An air source heat pump was modeled to supply heating and cooling to the dx coils in the ahu which included heat recovery.

The completed energy study shows greater energy savings for both the active and passive chilled beams compared to fan coils. Over all the building types the average annual savings over fan coils were found to be about 17% for passive beams and around 22% for active chilled beams.

Michael Ainley, md of Frenger Systems, pointed out that no two projects were the same, but factors like operating costs and maintenance costs needed to be considered. “It’s horses for courses,” he said. “Cheapest is not always best.”

Copies can be downloaded here

See also: Temperatures rise over chilled beam report

Construction to drive hvac growth in the Gulf

Designed to catch cool breezes
and direct them into the interior of the building,
wind towers were a traditional architectural
element in residential houses around
the Arabian Gulf before air conditioning
MIDDLE EAST: The hvac market in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are predicted to grow at a CAGR of 7.43% over the period 2012-2016, according to a new report from TechNavio.

Market growth is expected to be driven by increasing construction activity and a growing demand for energy-efficient systems. However, increasing competition from local vendors could pose a challenge to the growth of this market, the report warns.

The key vendors dominating the market are identified as Carrier, Daikin, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Control and local manufacturer Zamil. Other vendors mentioned in the report include LG, Mitsubishi Electric, Samsung and Indian manufacturer Voltas.

AC thermostat sales set to grow 50% by 2017

UK: Global sales of air-conditioning thermostats are set to rise by nearly 50% by 2017, according to a new report from UK-based IMS Research.

According to the report, air conditioning thermostat shipments are set to grow to 19 million units in 2017, up 48% from 12.8 million in 2012.

The Asian market will be particularly energetic, forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% from 2012 to 2017, compared to a CAGR of only 8% for the global market. Last year, Asia accounted for more than 30% of air-conditioning thermostat sales.

The collective EMEA market and the Americas are also forecast to see strong growth, but not at the same degree as Asia.

Daikin Europe sees sales grow by 4%

Belgium: Daikin Europe saw its turnover grow by 4% and profits climb by 11.6% last year despite the difficult economic conditions.

Figures released from the company's Ostend headquarters for the financial year to March 31, 2013, show a consolidated turnover of €1,834m.

The positive figures are said to have owed much to Daikin Europe’s investment in the Turkish market. Its turnover in this area doubled as a result of the acquisition of Airfel, the Turkish hvac manufacturer, in 2011. Daikin also expanded its Turkish dealer network and invested in brand awareness in what is seen as one of Daikin's biggest markets in the EMEA region.

The Middle East showed a moderate growth of 5% in sales, mainly through efforts in consulting sales activities in a traditional chilled water system market and expanding the dealer network in UAE and Saudi Arabia. The continuing bad economic situation saw no growth in Europe, CIS and Russia.

Substantial growth was seen in heating products for the residential market and chilled water systems for large commercial and industrial applications. The level of sales for air conditioning systems was comparable to the year 2011.

Much of the future growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rests on the development of market specific products through Daikin's EMEA Development Centre which it established in 2011. Pursuing a €2bn turnover target, Daikin says it will re-enforce its market leadership in the high end of the air conditioning market, and additionally focus on the low end market segment, where it is currently not present. Daikin’s flagship VRV is to be extended with a heat recovery range in February 2014, the company reveals.

Strong emphasis is also being placed on developments for the heating market, where Daikin is eyeing a top three position by 2015. A hybrid heat pump and a ground source heat pump are amongst the products promised for this market.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Temperatures rise over chilled beam report

UK: Temperatures are rising in the cooling sector on the eve of the launch of a new report comparing the efficiency of chilled beams with fan coils.

The ‘Technical Fact Sheet’ is due to be officially launched tomorrow (Monday) at the Building Centre in London. It compares the energy consumption, CO2 emissions and running costs of passive and active chilled beams with VAV fan coils utilising EC motors.

Published by the Chilled Beam & Ceiling Association (CBCA), it has brought condemnation from manufacturers of fan coils, one describing it as a “biased” and a “selectively worded sales document”.

Based on modeling by EDSL Tas software, the study looks at four differently-sized office buildings in London and Birmingham with all three hvac systems being supplied by a high efficiency chiller. An air source heat pump was modeled to supply heating and cooling to the dx coils in the ahu which included heat recovery.

The completed energy study shows greater energy savings for both the active and passive chilled beams compared to fan coils. Over all the building types the average annual savings over fan coils were found to be about 17% for passive beams and around 22% for active chilled beams.

Fan coil manufacturer Ability Projects is not impressed with the results. The company’s website calls the report “a selectively worded sales document” and “biased towards the products of the manufacturers association that sponsored it.”

Specifically, it maintains that the efficiency benefits attributed to the beams are as a result of running them at water temperatures of 14-17ºC, whereas the fan coils were modeled at 6-12ºC.

“What the report does not suggest once is that fan coil units can, of course, also use the same elevated temperatures and so would also get the same beneficial chiller COPs,” says Ability Projects.

Ability Projects also maintains that the report fails to take into account that active beams require more system pressure to operate so will have a higher specific fan power than both the passive chilled beams and fan coils.

It also says that the study appears to give the VAV fan coils a constant specific fan power of 0.25W/(l/s).

“Most fixed speed fan coils as installed will be drawing more in the region of 0.2W/(l/s) and with a VAV strategy in place will for the most part be drawing far less than that,” argues Ability Projects. “If the VAV SFP values used accounted for the VAV strategy, then the fan energy reported for a year would be far less.”

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hoshizaki acquires Acos Macom

BRAZIL: Japanese commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer continues to expand its worldwide interests with the acquisition of Brazilian company Acos Macom.

Founded in 1972, the Sao Paulo based company produces a range of commercial equipment including Gastronorm and Euronorm refrigerators and freezers.

The Macom brand will become part of the Hoshizaki group which already includes a number of leading names including Gram Commercial.

One of the largest companies in the food service industry, Hoshizaki is best known for its range of Ice machines, refrigerators, freezers and refrigerated display cases.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Tecumseh to expand AE2 compressor production

USA: Compressor manufacturer Tecumseh is increasing production at its factory in Verona, Mississippi. The investment, reported to be around $10m, will see a new production line for its recently introduced AE2 commercial refrigeration compressor. There are also plans to increase condensing unit production at the Verona factory

The AE2 line is expected to be operational by October. Currently, the AE2 compressor is manufactured in Brazil and France. Since its launch in January 2011, the AE2 has seen rapid adoption in beverage coolers, commercial refrigerators and freezers and similar applications worldwide. It benefits from being suitable for R134a and R404A as well as propane and isobutane.

Tecumseh, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has over 30 facilities worldwide and established the Verona plant in 1975.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Mike Nankivell is new FETA chairman

UK: Mike Nankivell, marketing and business development director at Daikin distributor Space Airconditioning is the new chairman of the Board of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA).
Already president of the HEVAC Association, he succeeds John Austin-Davies of Epta UK.

Mike Nankivell has been with Space for 14 years, having previously spent a similar amount of time as marketing manger at Carrier. He has provided outstanding service across the sector throughout his career, and the wealth of knowledge he will bring to this role will be invaluable in maintaining FETA’s position as the voice of manufacturers and suppliers in the hvacr sector.

MHI receives its largest ever chiller order

JAPAN: In what is said to be its largest ever order, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is to supply 13 centrifugal chillers with a total cooling capacity of 36,400 TR for a large-scale district cooling system in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) area.

The value of the order is not reported but delivery is scheduled for completion in September 2014.

The AART-280HPL, running on R134a, will serve as the thermal energy source for an ice storage system.

KLCC is Kuala Lumpur's main business district, perhaps best known for the Petronas Twin Towers – the 452m-high, 88-storey skyscrapers completed in 1997. The area is also home to the Suria KLCC shopping complex, the Aquaria KLCC oceanarium, a park and a philharmonic hall.

Daikin buys its Indonesian distributor

JAPAN: Daikin has acquired its distributor in Indonesia, PT Tata Solusi Pratama (TSP).

The Japanese air conditioning manufacturer says the acquisition will enable it to capitalise on TSP's sales network and expertise in the Indonesian commercial hvac market.

It is not yet clear how many Daikin employees in northern Europe
will be requesting a transfer to Surabaya, East Java
Daikin set up its own subsidiary PT Daikin Airconditioning Indonesia in June 2012, which has demonstrated its prowess in ductless air conditioning products through the steady expansion of sales. With TSP and its advantage in commercial HVAC equipment, Daikin says it plans a two-company system offering a product lineup ranging from room air conditioners to large-size applied equipment.

Indonesia, with the largest population and economy in the ASEAN region, is a market that is experiencing rapid expansion in infrastructure investment. And Daikin is not alone. There are many Japanese companies investing in this market. One of its closest competitors in Europe, Mitsubishi Electric, opened a subsidiary office in Jakarta at the end of last year.

TSP was founded by the Kirkham Group in 1991. Based in Surabaya, East Java, the company has six offices in the region offering high-end hvac solutions through a distribution network of more than 200 dealers. It is currently a distribution partner for Daikin Group (Daikin VRV Systems) and OYL Group (McQuay, Acson, AAF, J&E Hall).

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

DuPont considers selling its refrigerants business

USA: DuPont is considering selling all or part of its Performance Chemicals division, a sector of the company which includes its refrigerants business. The division, which  includes its Titanium Technologies and Chemicals & Fluoroproducts businesses, generated total sales of $7.2bn in 2012.

According to the company, it will consider strategic alternatives which may include a full or partial separation of each of these businesses from the company through a spin-off, sale or other transaction.

"We have been carefully weighing the strong cash generation of our Performance Chemicals businesses against their cyclicality and lower growth profile, as well as where the power of DuPont's integrated science can be differentiated," said chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. "We are evaluating options for our Performance Chemicals businesses as part of our ongoing plan to deliver higher growth and greater value creation for our shareholders."

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New blend could offer alternative to 1234yf

USA: A new refrigerant blend based around HFO1234ze could be a viable, less flammable alternative to 1234yf in car air conditioning systems.

The new refrigerant is one of two being developed by Mexichem and the subject of extensive testing by SAE International. One of the new refrigerants in particular, AC6 (R445A), displayed lower flammability risks compared to R1234yf.

Although R1234yf has been cleared as safe by the SAE, controversy still exists amongst German car manufacturers, particularly Daimler, regarding the potential safety of this gas in the event of head-on vehicle collisions.

Mexichem’s AC6 is a mixture of 1234ze(E), 134a and CO2 (85%/9%/6%). Its sister product AC5 (R444A) is a blend of 1234ze(E), R32 and R152a (83%/12%/5%).

Both new refrigerants meet the requirements of the EU MAC Directive and exhibit risk profiles said to be equal to or better than R1234yf, the popular choice for the replacement of R134a in car air conditioning systems.

AC5 is said to closely match the performance of R134a whilst having similar flammability characteristics to R1234yf. AC6 has a slightly higher refrigeration capacity than R134a but with reduced flammability compared to R1234yf. In fact, according to the report, AC6 is not flammable at normal ambient temperature, unlike R1234yf and AC5.

The main thermophysical properties of the fluids are summarised in the table (above). Both AC5 and AC6 have molecular weight, liquid density, latent heat of vaporisation and critical points that are close to those of R134a. This is by design as the fluids were formulated to give operating pressures and cooling capacities close to those typically found using R134a.

In general, the electrical properties of both refrigerants mixed with oil were found to be better than R1234yf. Material compatibility was similar to R1234yf. Miscibility and solubility of the two Mexichem refrigerants are said to provide properties that are more conducive to compressor durability than R1234yf.

Drop-in performance of AC5 was found to be similar to R134a at most test conditions, with capacity and COP also close to R134a values.

However, while drop-in performance of AC6 was similar to 134a at high load conditions, it exhibited a 5-10% reduction in COP at part load, with an attendant increase in discharge pressure. According to the report, this could be overcome and match the performance of 1234yf by the selection of an appropriately sized internal heat exchanger and separate receiver dryer

Being zeotropic, glide is an issue but not significant with AC5. It was found to be slightly more of a problem with AC6, resulting in a loss of the CO2 component. However, the SAE team considered that this could be be corrected during routine maintenance/recharging.

Probably due to its CO2 component, it was in comparative flammability tests that AC6 scored higher marks. Both Mexichem refrigerants are ASHRAE classified A2L (“mildly flammable”, like 1234yf) but while the flammability characteristics of AC5 were found to be similar to R1234yf overall, AC6 was less flammable than either fluid. It is said to be non-flammable at normal ambient temperatures, exhibiting flammability onset (by the ASHRAE test method) between 50 and 60°C. Its flammability range is very small with an LFL higher than either of the other fluids.

In addition, in tests involving spraying refrigerant/oil mixtures onto hot surfaces it was found that a significantly hotter metal surface was required to ignite an aerosol of AC6 with PAG oil. The temperature of metal required was typically 80-100K higher than that needed to ignite R-1234yf/PAG mixtures in the same test. The gas auto-ignition temperature of AC6 refrigerant in its worst case formulation was determined to be about 80K higher than that of R-1234yf in the same apparatus.

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Major cold chain conference returns to the UK

UK: An important international conference on sustainability in the cold chain is returning to the UK next year.

The International Institute of Refrigeration’s 3rd International Conference on Sustainability and the Cold Chain, which will be held in London in June, is expected to attract an international audience of  those with an interest in the cold chain, covering food, transport and other applications and will explore new developments and key trends in technology. 

It marks a return to the UK for this conference which was first held in Cambridge in March 2010. It will again be hosted by the UK's Institute of Refrigeration.

The programme will feature technical papers presented across two days. The conference will begin with a reception on the June 23 and continue on June 24 and 25. The venue, St Mary’s University College Twickenham, offers self contained meeting rooms and accommodation on-campus within easy reach of central London and Heathrow airport

To find out more about the conference and to register your interest in submitting an abstract, attending or sponsorship opportunities visit

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

WR looks to the future

Sam Newman (5th from left) with the Nottingham Trent research team

UK: The ageing profile of the UK refrigeration industry has long been recognised. Now, one of this country’s leading contractors has launched a major research project with Nottingham Trent University to look into the problem and help secure the industry’s long-term future.

WR Refrigeration’s initiative aims to establish fundamental knowledge about the sector, the challenges it faces when recruiting talent and its key skills and learning and development requirements, to help formulate effective long term plans and frameworks for career development.

Sam Newman, WR Refrigeration’s human resources manager, said: “The refrigeration industry’s workforce as a whole has an ageing profile. Traditionally, there is little succession planning which is a critical point of vulnerability when addressing the industry’s future.”

She added: “From the perspective of a business with ambitions to grow and develop, this is obviously not a viable approach. This major research project, being carried out in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, will establish a clear picture of the current state of play, and what needs to change.”

The project will collect base-line data on current demographics in the sector, potential career progression routes and current perceptions of stakeholders of the attractiveness or otherwise of entering and pursuing a career in refrigeration and air conditioning.

The research will take a twin track approach to issues, taking into account the employer’s and industry’s point of view, and the employee’s and potential industry entrant’s perspective. It will result in recommendations for a ‘blue print’ career development framework, to support new industry entrants and existing employees in more structured career progression.

The findings will include recommendations on how the industry might enhance and promote its employer brand to better compete with other trades.

Sam Newman said: “While the project is being driven by WR Refrigeration, it has an industry-wide relevance. Its findings will shed valuable light to help both the company and the industry formulate practical plans to make a difference for the future.”

The findings of the project, due to be published later this year, will provide vital input into the strategy and plans for the Institute of Refrigeration’s Youth Engagement Project, also being chaired by Sam Newman.

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Monday, 22 July 2013

Russian customs uncover hidden R22

RUSSIA: Customs officers at the port of Taganrog have intercepted over 4,000kg of R22 disguised as R134a.

During routine inspections earlier this month customs officers found 300 cylinders in boxes labelled as R134a. Further investigation revealed that the boxes actually contained cylinders marked as containing R22, a fact later confirmed in chemical tests. The import and export of R22 in Russia, although not yet completely banned, is restricted and subject to licensing.

Illegal imports of refrigerants from China via the bordering countries of Ukraine and Kazakhstan are a problem for Russia in its efforts to phase-out ozone-depleting substances as was reported on earlier this year.

INTERPOL involved in new manual for customs and police
Meanwhile, INTERPOL has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to produce a manual for police, customs and border security officers on methods commonly used by criminals to hide and smuggle illegal ODS. 

Robert van de Bogert, Head of the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate - Intelligence and Investigation Service insists that international co-ordination is needed. “Even 15 years after the introduction of the trade ban there still are illegal exports of CFCs,” he said.

The manual, entitled ‘Ozone Depleting Substances Smuggling and Concealment: Case Study Handbook’, is designed to strengthen the law enforcement response to the illegal trade in these chemicals.

The trade is fueled in part by the high cost of alternative chemicals, the continued use of equipment which uses ODS, and the price differential between ODS in industrialised and developing countries.

To produce the manual, INTERPOL gathered case studies from member countries detailing current methods they have found used by criminals for smuggling and concealing ODS. Case studies were submitted by 18 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, as well as UNEP and the World Customs Organization, highlighting the truly global scope of the problem.

“ODS smugglers are often inventive, ingenious and well connected, making it difficult for enforcement agencies to detect and seize illegal shipments of ODS," said Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, head of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, OzonAction Branch. 

"It is only by remaining well informed, vigilant and cooperating at national and international levels that the scourge of ODS smuggling can be combated.”

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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Bitzer officially opens new US factory

USA: German refrigeration compressor manufacturer Bitzer has now officially opened its new 9,000m2 factory in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bitzer US Inc has been manufacturing products in Atlanta for the North American market since 2005. Rapid growth saw the original 4,000m2 semi hermetic compressor factory factory reaching its capacity by 2012. Work started on the new $10m factory in March 2012 and was completed by the end of that year.

The original factory building will now become a training and development centre as well as being a centre for the production of pressure vessels and shell and tube heat exchangers.

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