Even the advocates of transcritical CO2, of which I am one, have never claimed that it is the silver bullet with which to kill off HFCs and the search for simpler alternatives has been a long on, says Nicholas Cox
In 1997 the Annex 22 of the International Energy Agency Heat Pump Programme, carried out by EA Technology, studied the merits of various distributed and secondary refrigeration systems supermarket refrigeration systems using natural refrigerants. But demonstration projects in Manchester and Stockholm used R404a in the refrigerated cabinets because you wouldn’t use hydrocarbons in store, would you?
The Carbon Trust funded work completed in 2005 under the title “The Development of Low Energy Integrated Commercial Refrigeration Technology”, this developed one of the refrigeration systems described in Annex 22, and proved that hydrocarbons could successfully be used in integral refrigerated cabinets. The results were presented at the 7th IIR Gustav Lorentzen Conference on Natural Working Fluids, Trondheim, in 2006, and at subsequent conferences, but as no cabinet manufacturer would dare to contemplate the use of flammable refrigerants, the resultant IP languishes in a dormant company, ICWL.
But with the appearance of R1234, the F Gas lobby has had to drop its opposition to flammable refrigerants and the prognosis for hydrocarbons is now very different to what it was in 2006. When the fog lifts there is always one who can see further and quicker than the others and on this occasion it is Waitrose who are demonstrating 20:20 vision.
Their reasons for choosing hydrocarbons? Better, cheaper, simpler, more efficient , easier to maintain and compliant with BSEN safety standards. Seems obvious when you look at it like that, doesn’t it?