WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Refrigeration in the future will be even more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. And the game plan and expertise to make that happen exists today.

That was the word from three industry association officials to an audience of engineers from throughout the world during a plenary session at the Compressor Engineering Conference and Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Conference Thursday at Purdue University.

Bruce Hunn, representing the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), described work within ASHRAE that included "strategic initiatives meeting future needs with carefully crafted research strategies." Many projects, he said, are done with input from a wide range of industry sources.

A recent environmental workshop formed the framework for what he called "eight opportunities."

These included integrated design for whole buildings for the entire life of the buildings. The effort includes a linking of all aspects of the building including security. Another area deals with comfort, health, and productivity in a building involving IAQ, acoustics, lighting and "general well being," even if some of those components can be subjective.

Then there is a focus, he said, on building operations that could include self-correcting mechanisms, peak load management, and taking into consideration biochemical hazards. Other areas involve simulation and design tools; a need for inexpensive, self-calibrating, and plug-and-play design tools; alternative cooling technologies; refrigerant alternatives; improved food chain and storage; and renewable energy options.

Mark Menzer of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) reported on aspects of the 21st Century Research (21CR) program. This included "the defrocking of HVAC" in which manufacturers move beyond just selling components to offering business propositions for end-users that best meet their needs. There is also attention to more research to meet higher expectations as well as an awareness of a global market and the need to move refrigerated food supplies to more areas of the world.

He said goals include finding ways to reduce energy usage and peak use by 50 percent in residential buildings by 2020, and by 25 percent in new commercial buildings. With regard to refrigeration systems in supermarkets, he said efforts should be made to significantly reduce refrigerant leaks and reduce by 25 percent energy usage in display cases.

"The drivers that will dictate tomorrow's technology are apparent today," Menzer said.

Kent Anderson of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) said success in such efforts is based on the need to find qualified people ranging from engineers to technicians. Training can come, he said, via the Internet and should be interactive. Training needs to mesh the theoretical with the practical, he said.

A second area, he said, deals with products. "Quality is more important than ever," he said. Also needed, he added, are low costs, adaptability, and self-diagnosis.

A third aspect is performance of equipment in terms of efficiencies and environmental impact.

Publication date: 07/12/2004