Danfoss Ponders HFC-less Home Country

June 13, 2001
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Members of the trade press and Danfoss officials gather in Denmark to discuss the latest developments in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.


SONDERBORG, Denmark—What would you do if you were a manufacturer of refrigeration and air conditioning components geared for equipment using HFCs, and the country where you are headquartered wants to end domestic use of those refrigerants beginning in 2006?

If you’re Danfoss, you develop a strategy that voices strong opposition to such a policy. But at the same time, you look for alternatives to HFCs in order to serve your home country while still developing HFC products for other parts of the world. And you keep in mind the need to continue to increase your presence in the United States with products for HFC systems regardless of the way other parts of the world may go.

That strategy was one complex component of a wide-ranging media briefing that drew press representatives from 10 countries to a hotel here in Sonderborg, a coastal town of 30,000 on the Danish island of Als. The town was some 15 miles from Danfoss’ corporate headquarters in Nordborg.



News Refrigeration Editor Peter Powell takes notes as Finn Fastrup, Danfoss R/AC Business Segment president, outlines the developments ath the Denmark headquartered company.

THE HFC ISSUE

“Danfoss does not support the Danish solidarity proposal to ban HFCs,” said Finn Fastrup, R/AC Business Segment president. The position comes in response to a move among high-ranking Danish officials to phase out the use of HFCs in Denmark beginning in 2006. Danfoss officials said that now appears to be a foregone conclusion. Yet, said Fastrup, “We will continue to fight it as long as we can.”

Media representatives at the press briefing indicated such a move could well sweep through Europe, with Austria and several Scandinavian countries likely to follow suit.

Fastrup said the Danish move hurts the ability of companies like Danfoss in “international cooperation” and “prolongs the global phaseout of CFCs and HCFCs,” since end users will be unsure of alternatives for those refrigerants.

At the same time, Fastrup said Danfoss will do research and development into use of HCs and CO2. He called upon public funding for such an effort, since it is government policy that is necessitating the research. He also said any phaseout of HFCs in Den-mark should be in relation to the ability of the industry to develop HCs and CO2 alternatives.

While a quick phaseout of HFCs was possible for household and large industrial applications, he said, there needs to be “continued use of HFCs in mid-size systems” for a longer period of time and more stringent regulations regarding leak rates, recycling, and energy efficiencies. Should mid-size systems need to move from HFCs, one possible method, he said, would be to use propane and cascade systems, although current technology would result in relatively high energy costs.

Key to Danfoss is the continued ability to import HFCs for use in the manufacturing of HFC equipment to be shipped outside the country. The Danish government, Fastrup anticipated, would allow this. “They say they will not impose rules that will close down businesses in Denmark,” he commented.

Even if the HFC ban in Denmark spreads throughout Europe, Fastrup promised that Danfoss would continue to provide HFC products for such countries as the United States, which is the world’s largest market for air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.



The Danish flag flies outside the Danfoss corporate headquarters in Nordborg.

COMMERCIAL COMPRESSORS

In another aspect of the press session, Guillermo Diaz Trillo, president of the Commercial Compressors Division, voiced support for the continued use of reciprocating compressors in refrigeration equipment and scrolls in air conditioning. He said Danfoss commercial recips now range from 1 ½ to 15 hp for use with R-22, R-134a, and R-404a. Smaller recips range from 1/20 to ½ hp for use with R-134a, R-404A, and R-600. Scrolls start at 7 hp and can go up to 100 hp for use with R-22, R-407C, and R-410A.

Danfoss’ approach to reach 100-ton scrolls involves grouping the 25-ton models as singles, tandems, trios, and quadros.

Diaz Trillo said the use of scrolls for refrigeration “is not so clear. It may not be the best technology. In the long term it could come. But it should not be an air conditioning compressor adapted for refrigeration.”

Likewise, he said the company has no plans to develop horizontal scroll compressors, a technology that has received some attention in the United States.



SUPERMARKET CONTROLS

Refrigeration & Air Condi-tioning Controls president Vagn Helberg reported on efforts to step up the company’s commitment to supermarkets, including those in the United States.

He reported that Danfoss has acquired two controls companies: Woodley of the United Kingdom and Electronic Controls International (ECI) of the U.S. “Activities are now being integrated to form a new, global organization and development of a new, innovative product range,” said Helberg. The two new companies will mesh AKCESS supermarket refrigeration products built in the U.S. and ADAP-COOL products built in Denmark.

“This is developing very, very fast,” he said. Fastrup said Danfoss will temporarily retain the ECI name, although the company will eventually assume the Danfoss name.



CORPORATE STRUCTURE

Fastrup noted that it had been four months since Danfoss underwent a major reorganization that divided the company into three business segments, of which Refrigeration & Air Conditioning is one. (The others deal with heating/water and motion controls.)

The reasons for the restructuring, he said, included the need to improve customer relations, increase gross income, increase profits, and step up productivity.

He noted that about 11% of Danfoss’ refrigeration and air conditioning income comes from North America, a percentage the company is looking to significantly increase.

While the company is currently privately owned within a foundation structure, he said consideration is being given to taking the company public in the next three to five years, including listing on a U.S. exchange. Ole Daugbjerg, vice president of corporate communications, said that while the planning process for such a move has started, a final decision has yet to be made. At this point, he said that “all options are open.”

Publication date: 06/18/2001

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