In Europe, the F-gas regulation is advancing natural refrigerants, but what are the framework conditions like in other countries? A lecture event entitled "Natural Refrigerants Throughout the World – Country Situation, Applications and Experiences," held by eurammon last October at Chillventa, explored the current situation in the United States, Kazakhstan, the Middle East and Turkey.
In the United States, President Barack Obama has created the legal framework for phasing out F-gases with high ozone depleting potential (ODP) and global warming potential (GWP), reported Dave Rule, president of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR). In the medium term, he said, the industry expects to see a corresponding shortage that will make environmentally harmful refrigerants more expensive. The market is currently searching for efficient alternatives that also are viable in terms of costs. The United States sees a comprehensive, cross-application trend toward natural refrigerants. To forge ahead with this transformation, new partnerships are emerging where representatives from the industrial and political sectors are collaborating closely with end users.
Elsewhere around the world, said the participants, Kazakhstan still has a long way to go to achieve environmentally friendly standards in refrigeration. Even so, its endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol in 2009 constituted a first important milestone for the central Asian state when it comes to sustainable technologies. The country now has to implement a national plan to regulate the emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. A lot still has to be done for natural refrigerants, confirms Yuri Dubodelov from SAKADA Engineering, Almaty. The whole region is suffering from a lack of skilled workers, with scarcely any engineering and development expertise, and there is very little demand for high-performance refrigeration systems that also face strict safety requirements.
The situation in the Middle East is much better, said Hans Raaymakers, general manager at ADEAREST. He explained the role ammonia plays in the United Arab Emirates. There has been widespread use of the natural refrigerant throughout the whole region since the 1990s, thanks to the influence of western companies. Many systems are currently being modernized or replaced by new ones, so a continued increase in the spread of ammonia is expected. However, until legislation is in place to urge the use of ammonia, the cheaper initial costs of adopting conventional refrigeration systems will be seen as an advantage.
For decades now, applications with natural refrigerants have been accepted as part of the industrial standard in Turkey. Around 90 percent of systems use ammonia; only 10 percent of systems are operated with fluorinated refrigerants, and this is only for cooling areas smaller than 21.528ft2 (2,000 m2) in size. By contrast, there is still relatively little use of CO2 as a refrigerant. In Turkey, increasing impetus is coming from multinational companies that are refurbishing systems with high global warming potential (GWP) and high ozone depletion potential (ODP). A statutory, highly progressive F-gas phase-out based on the EU regulations will continue to boost the significance of natural refrigerants in the next few years, explained Hüseyin M. Yüksel of the Turkish Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Manufacturers Association.
Natural refrigerants are currently becoming increasingly significant on a worldwide scale. Various legal, economic, ecological, infrastructural and political factors influence the spread of environmentally friendly refrigerants such as ammonia or CO2. The EU and major industrial countries such as the United States or Turkey are driving these developments, setting standards that are increasingly being taken as guidelines by countries in other regions.