Europe Looks To CO2, Shaved Ice, Scrolls

January 11, 2003
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NUREMBURG, Germany — For state-siders who want to take some readings from Europe, here are some of the latest developments from the most recent International Trade Fair for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, and Ventilation (in German, Internationale Facfhmesse Kalte, Klima, Luftung, or IKK).

IKK is one of Europe’s largest trade shows, with more than 800 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees. With its decided tilt toward refrigeration, it is considered by many the most significant refrigeration trade show in the world.

Some new directions taking shape in the Old World that could have an impact on the New World include:

  • CO2 is slowly but surely gaining a toehold as a refrigerant of choice should HFCs face a rocky future. It is starting to show up in equipment ready for sale to the HVACR market.

  • The use of shaved ice coming off a rotating evaporator that does away with harvest cycles and augers has become a formidable technology that seems ready for a higher profile in the United States.

  • The steady but slow introduction of scroll compressor technology for refrigeration applications has gained a significant jump-start with the announcement by a major player in the compressor sector — Danfoss — that it is now producing refrigeration scrolls.

    Helpman's CO2 unit was on display at the IKK show.

    Refrigerants, Oils

    CO2 has been talked about for several years as a possible alternative to HFCs such as 404A and 410A. HFCs are facing an uncertain future in Europe as many environmental groups are pressuring various governmental entities to phase out the use of HFCs because of global warming questions. So far, only Denmark has defined a policy calling for an end to the use of HFCs by 2007 in all but small systems. Meanwhile, other countries such as Austria and some Scandinavian nations continue to try to formulate a policy on HFC phaseout.

    For the first time at an IKK show, a number of companies were showing equipment coming to the market running on CO2.

    The company Helpman from the Netherlands showed an air cooler that uses CO2 and operates in the –40 to 55 degrees C range. The higher pressure of CO2 has caused the company to build its own thicker piping and offer stainless steel and copper piping as well. The company noted a range of products such as DX units, air-cooled condensers, and dry coolers. Officials noted the products are available worldwide.

    Bock (Germany) featured CO2 open piston compressors with two, four, and six cylinders for sub-critical applications, such as low-pressure stages of cascades. The company reported other CO2-related projects under way to develop an open two-cylinder piston compressor for normal and trans-critical stationary applications, and an open two-cylinder piston compressor for normal and trans-critical applications for bus A/C units.

    York (Germany) showed a CO2/ ammonia freezer package. According to booth officials, the package “consists of a low temperature side where CO2 is pumped around with a nominal evaporating temperature at –50 degrees C. This and even lower temperatures are easily achieved with one reciprocating compressor using a shell-and-tube cascade cooler as condenser for the CO2 side. The excess heat from the CO2 circuit is removed by an ammonia system with the cascade cooler as evaporator. The main components are one reciprocating compressor, a plate-and-frame water-cooled condenser, and a high-side float valve.”

    Elsewhere, the talk was on HFC refrigerants. In terms of the debate over the use of 410A or 407C as the alternative of choice to HCFC-22, a count of systems on the show floor showed a decided tilt to 407C, which seems to go opposite the direction the post-22 era is heading in the United States, where 410A is winning the hearts and budgets of manufacturers.

    Harp International (England) showed its entire range of refrigerants, including HFCs 134a, 404A, 407C, and 410A, and interim HCFCs like 408A and 409A. The company noted the line can be shipped worldwide. The company also joined a select band of manufacturers pushing various blends of refrigerants designed to create HFCs that work as replacements to R-12 in existing systems without oil changes. Harp’s refrigerant was 413A, a mix of 134a, 218, and 600a. It is not available in the U.S., officials said.

    Atofina (France) reported that it looked for an HFC alternative for 22 that would work with mineral oil and came up with what it is calling Forane® FX 90, a blend of 125, 234, and R-E 170. The company said the refrigerant is nontoxic and nonflammable and “is particularly suited for high-temperature applications.” At the time of the show, the company was seeking an ASHRAE designation of R-419A for the blend.

    Another ongoing issue is which HFC refrigerant — 404A or 507 — works best as a refrigeration alternative to 502. Solvay (represented by its German division) voted for 507 as “the superior refrigerant solution for low temperatures. Using Solkane® 507 instead of 404A leads to higher capacities and efficiencies.”

    For centrifugal chillers that once used R-12, Refrigerant Products Ltd. of England offered RS-25, which it called a near-azeotropic blend. The company argued that the refrigerant should be preferred to R-134a in retrofit applications, since 134a needs an oil change and RS-25 does not.

    Honeywell (represented by its operations in Belgium) focused on interim HCFC-based refrigerants R-408A and R-409A as alternatives to CFCs 502 and 12 for service techs that are still trying to keep such systems running and having a hard time finding enough CFCs at a tolerable price.

    A-Gas (England) offered a guide to refrigerant replacements and included 413A and pure isobutene (600a) on its list. Calor Gas (also from England) went several steps further with what it called “the natural choice.” The company packages pure isobutene, propane, propylene and ethane in containers up to 46 kg. What’s in the canisters creates the numbering system. Care 10 is isobutene, Care 30 is a blend of isobutane and propane, Care 40 is pure propane, Care 45 is pure propylene and Care 50 is a blend of propane and ethane.

    Secondary refrigerant systems were also a topic at the expo. DEM Products of Sweden showed water chillers for secondary systems. The units were controlled by frequency inverters.

    Other refrigerant manufacturers used the show to demonstrate their presence in the sector and their willingness to supply users with the refrigerants they need. National Refrigerants (Philadelphia) pointed out that it not only supplies refrigerants but offers reclamation services, analytical testing, cylinder refurbishing, and refrigerant recovery containers.

    Uniqema (England) exhibited alongside its principal European distributor, Virginia KMP, and showed polyolester lubricants, said by the company to be energy efficient and biodegradable.

    Ice Machines

    The shaved ice saga goes like this: The technology was first shown by a couple of European companies about six years ago, including occasional showings at U.S. refrigeration expos. Each year at IKK, a few more European companies added the approach to its ice machine line. A couple years ago, a familiar stateside name, Scotsman, attached its name to the technology at a U.S. show. At the most recent IKK, more than a dozen ice machine manufacturers showed products, and virtually all of them had shaved ice front and center or as the only product in the booth.

    Sometimes the approach took names like scale ice, as used by Higel (Germany) with a mini-model that had only two lines — one water and one electrical. Funk (Germany) proclaimed its scale ice machine as having a filtration system that screens out foreign matter. OREF of Italy pointed out that scale ice equipment has a range of uses, including the meat processing and fishing industries. Ziegra (Germany) noted that shaved ice should be quick cooling and said it can achieve that. This means that ice does not freeze together when dispensing it onto a surface. Then a thin crust forms on the outside of the ice to hinder penetration of warmer surrounding air.

    The shaved ice approach shown by Enodis Scotsman was featured in a unit capable of anywhere from 335 to 426 kg of ice in 24 hours, depending on the entering water temperature. Other larger units were capable of greater ice production.

    Hoshizaki Europe (based in the Netherlands) showed more traditional cube, nugget, and flake ice machines, often in smaller sizes preferred in the European market, which is not as demanding of ice for drinks.

    Compressors

    Refrigeration scrolls have been making some headway into a supermarket sector still dominated by recips. The debut of models from Danfoss Maneurop (France) was seen by many as giving a major push and endorsement to the technology. Danfoss said its initial offerings are units running from 5 to 10 hp, using R-404A and R-507 and available in two-, three-, and four-tandem configurations. Officials for the company said the units “are robust due to the hermetic design and provide excellent part-load performance.” They added, “With a wide evaporating temperature range (-30 to +5 degrees C) the RM compressor is the perfect choice in medium temperature applications for supermarkets, food processing and cold storage installations, while the RL series will address low-temperature system needs.” The launch is expected in mid-2003.

    Elsewhere on the compressor front, Bitzer International (Germany and Oakwood, Ga.) used the show to feature a wide range of products. Two-cylinder aluminum compressors for transport applications were added to the line of four- and six-cylinder models. It extended the capacity range of its Octagon® compressors with a four-cylinder series equipped with an integrated pulsation damper. Its air-cooled condensing units for use with Octagon tandem compressors are especially designed for commercial refrigeration applications with high load variations.

    The company also showed EuroScroll compressors designed for air conditioning applications, which the company said achieve a high coefficient of performance by using suction gas cooling.

    The screw compressors included semi-hermetic compacts for liquid chillers and heat pumps, hermetic compacts for railway A/C, and both semi-hermetic and open screws for parallel operations.

    In the pressure vessels category, the manufacturer added a couple of receivers (F192T and F392T) for mounting Octagon tandem compressors.

    Bristol compressors were shown by SFT (Germany), a subsidiary of York. The scroll line was billed as available in a range of capacities from 3.6 to 70kW for refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump applications.

    Bock (Germany) introduced an eight-cylinder HG8 compressor. To improve operational safety, the unit has been fitted with the company’s BCM management system.

    A number of compressors were introduced by Tecumseh Europe (France). The HG range of horizontal rotary compressors was shown, as well as Silensys silent-housing condensing units.

    VSM mini-screw compressors were featured by Vilter (Cudahy, Wis.). The company uses a single screw design with either one main rotor or two gate rotors depending on the model. The company said the VSM is quieter than twin screws, especially the gear-driven models. The compact design has no external tubing on the compressor, no gearbox, and an optional oil pump based on application.

    The Variscrew+ range of semi-hermetic compressors was shown by Aerzener (Germany). It has an admissible discharge pressure that permits the use of 410A, while a special motor design allows the use of ammonia.

    Howden (Scotland) showed the WRVi 365-165 compressor for use with grey iron casting for ammonia chillers, or with cast steel for use in a propane refrigeration system.

    Embraco (Brazil) used the show to present its low-noise NJ compressor. The product is single-cylinder and has a high starting torque. The changes include a new shell aimed, said the company, “at optimizing rigidity and reducing noise emission.” There is also a new suction and discharge system to reduce noise and pulsation and a new suspension that reduces vibration transmission.

    RefTec (Sarasota, Fla.) showed a 0.75-hp oil-less compressor designed for refrigerant recovery equipment.

    In support of the compressors was an oil management program from Grasso (the Netherlands) designed to provide “an accurate calculation of the oil carryover of the compressor package” and an economizer system for recips that is “completely piped and mounted on the compressor, and therefore no additional engine room space is required.”

    An electronic oil level control from Temprite Europe Ltd. (Scotland) was developed with scroll compressors in mind, according to the company. An oil level sensor mounts directly on a 3¼4-inch NPT sight glass port of a scroll, and the compact solenoid valve is designed to mount directly on the compressor.

    CMP Corp. (Oklahoma City, Okla.) offered its replacement part services for major brands of compressors.

    Condensers

    A recurring theme at the expo was noise reduction. Evapco (listing offices in Belgium and Italy) promoted ATC Low Sound evaporative condensers. Part of the project included work with fan manufacturers to develop a low-sound fan for the company’s expanded induced-draft axial fan product line. That technology is combined with water silencers in the tower basin.

    Searle (England) featured a dual-discharge cooler and twin condensing unit.

    LU-VE (England) had the HP Power unit, which it said can be installed with up to 22 fans. The unit has what the company called a “safe tube technology,” which was said to assist in reducing both power consumption and noise.

    Totaline (Syracuse, N.Y.), which is part of the Carrier organization, exhibited and noted a wide range of products for the European market that included a number of condensing units.

    New directions in casing included recessed modular housing for assembling and installing air conditioning units from Vecam (Italy). According to the company, the design allows condensed water to flow out and is easy to assemble and install.

    Messe, the site of IKK expo in Nuremburg, Germany.

    Refrigeration Systems

    Among chiller technologies catching attention at the expo was a new series of water-cooled liquid chillers with screw compressors from Emicon (Italy). The systems use R-134a and have a cooling capacity ranging between 105 and 1,204 kW.

    Aggreko (Germany) promoted a very low temperature chiller. The rental product allows temporary cooling for liquids down to –40 degrees C and uses a stainless steel evaporator.

    Trane (represented through operations in Germany) promoted a range of products including rooftop units, as well as absorption-type chillers.

    Cooline (Italy) offered heat pump air-cooled water chillers for situations where chilled water is needed year-round. Much of the focus was on customized products for customers.

    FrigoTech (Sweden) drew attention to what it called a “soft and quick defrost system,” designed to cut in half the number of defrosts and reduce the time it takes from defrosting until temperatures return to normal levels. The process is based on a cold-transfer medium consisting of naturally stabilized organic salts.

    Jackstone Froster (England) used the show to launch the Platoblast Freezer. It combines traditional horizontal plate freezer technology for contact freezing and the addition of a high-volume cold air recirculation system.

    A hybrid fluid cooler from Baltimore Aircoil (represented by its international headquarters in Belgium) offered three heat transfer systems: finned coil, prime surface coil, and wet deck surface.

    Components

    Henry Technologies (a Melrose Park, Ill.-based company exhibiting at IKK through its facilities in Scotland) launched a range of safety devices. The brass and stainless steel constructed pressure relief valves consist of 15 different models with a range of inlet connection sizes. A line of rupture discs was also exhibited.

    Alco (Germany and St. Louis) introduced the EC3-67x controller for capacity controlled compressor packs with network functions. The controller supports compressor packs with six two-stage, four three-stage, or three four-stage compressors. For mounting, the controllers snap onto a DIN-rail. Compressors or fans are activated via digital output contacts.

    Hansen Technologies (Burr Ridge, Ill.) noted sealed motor valves. The compact modulating control valve features direct actuation of its valve seat via a removable, weatherproof motor stator positioned around a fixed stainless steel container, which houses the rotating armature in the pressurized system.

    Thermostatic expansion valves with interchangeable orifices were shown by Parker Climate and Industrial Controls (Italy). A special O-ring seal is designed to prevent leaking by the pin from spraying on the lower side of the power element. This, said the company, allows more versatility in bulb mounting locations.

    Electric expansion valves were among products noted by Sporlan (Washington, Mo.) and ACAL (Germany). The SEI is a electronically operated step motor flow control valve, intended for the control of liquid refrigerant flow.

    Electronic defrost controllers from LAE Electronics (Italy) provide all connections and control parts, eliminating the need for external wiring and contactors, according to the company. They are said to be particularly suitable for high- and low-temperature cold storage, as well as refrigerated cabinets. They can be installed in the compressor or condenser compartment.

    Radford Controls (England) introduced Micro Manager, which has 32 channels that can be individually configured as analog or digital for connection to up to 64 networked devices such as cabinet, coldstore, or pack controllers.

    Carel (England) showed WebGate, designed to allow the company’s controllers access to the Web through Ethernet.

    Dixell (Italy) promoted XJ 500 for controlling and monitoring unit connection to any of the company’s controllers equipped with serial communication ports. The X-View was described as Windows-based software that allows access to advanced features in the supervision and management of refrigeration units.

    Honeywell showed the Icon refrigeration controller for display cases and cold rooms. The company promoted the product’s “contemporary design” and “quick and simple LED visual access to individual cases or cold room parameters.”

    With IKK presence originating from operations in Italy, Invensys showed several new products. The parent organization’s company, Eliwell, featured the IWC, consisting of a number of electronic controllers “able to answer the most demanding applications in terms of adaptability” and containing “in discreet dimensions, an exceptional number of resources and advanced functions.” The technology was targeted for industrial and commercial applications. Eliwell also showed a new line of electronic controllers for supermarkets.

    Tools, Test Instruments

    Familiar names TIF, Robinair, Amprobe, and Promax were represented at the booth of Amprobe Europe (Germany). Included was the MiniMax, billed as a small and fast recovery unit. It uses an oil-less compressor and allows the direct handling of liquid and vapor refrigerant recovery.

    Advanced Engineering (England) had a booth that showed the Spectroline Big EZ leak detection kit and Pryocool, a flame retardant gel that was designed to prevent damage to controls, valves, and plastic components.

    Ritchie (Bloomington, Minn.) showed an AccuProbe leak detector with a heated sensor. It uses a microprocessor-based alarm in which a service technician can follow the numbers 1 through 9 to focus in on all HCFC, CFC, and HFC refrigerant leaks. The number value increases the closer one gets to the leak source. When numbers stop increasing, the source of the leak is determined. The number displayed also indicates how large the leak is and thus the urgency for repair.

    Inficon (East Syracuse, NY) showed the redesigned HLD 5000 refrigerant leak detector, which the company said finds leaks quickly and reliably with fewer false alarms. The company also said sensor life has been extended.

    Advanced Engineering Ltd. (England) noted that it is the European distributor for the Spectroline leak detection kit, consisting of a series of dyes and related items. The dyes can be detected with a UV lamp.

    The RL-8 two-stage, rotary-vane-type vacuum pump was introduced by Refco Manufacturing (Switzerland). It has a gas ballast and an integrated ball valve that isolates the pump from the system.

    Aspen (England) featured a range of pumps and accessories.

    Refrigerant pumps from Buffalo Pumps (North Tonawanda, N.Y.) were said to have a sealless design and work with ammonia, R-22, CO2, and brine.

    Uniweld (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) showed a variety of tubing tools and tip cleaning kits.

    Rectorseal (Houston) featured its familiar Acid-Away compressor burnout acid neutralizer, or, as the booth literature noted, “Methode zur Vermeidung einer Kompressorverbrennung.”

    Imperial (Niles, Ill.) had a number of new items. The Series 700-C manifold was billed as a dual action valve, operating as a conventional manifold or able to accept liquid refrigerant from a cylinder and discharge into the low side of the system when a Kwik-Charge valve is engaged. The 400-Series two-valve manifold has dual O-ring seal and angled hose hangers for easier access. A triple head tube bender was said to bend three of the most popular sizes of soft copper, aluminum, and thin-wall steel tubing with one tool.

    A line of test and measurement instruments were launched at the show by Supco (Allenwood, N.J.). Included were multimeters, data loggers, thermometers, airflow instruments, and vacuum gauges. One item was the CP50 clamp-around amp meter.

    Among test instruments shown by Bacharach (England and Pittsburgh) was the DGM 2000 electronic manometer.

    The SH-31N gauge was introduced at the show by J/B Industries (Aurora, Ill.). The gauge was developed for charging and testing air conditioning and refrigeration units and is sold is both English and metric units.

    Tridan (Danville, Ill.) was among several dozen companies as part of the U.S. Pavilion at the expo. Drawing attention at the Tridan booth was the fact that the company is a worldwide supplier of machinery for fin production, tube fabrication, and coil expansion.

    Publication date: 01/13/2003

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