About this time of year, editors and columnists in the HVACR industry do editorials and columns encouraging attendance at the annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), this year taking place Jan. 23-25 in Chicago.

This is the place where you can see a lot of what’s new in the HVACR industry.

It’s on the ‘R’ that I want to focus. To see all that is new in refrigeration, you’d probably need to expand a bit beyond AHR to such shows as the Food Marketing Institute Expo held every other year in the spring for the latest in supermarket cooling and freezing technology and to the National Restaurant Show every year for a large showcase of ice machine and ice storage equipment. And if you want a heavy dose of technical papers on refrigeration, there is the every other year air conditioning and refrigeration conference at Purdue University, not to mention the … well, you get the point.

But there is much to see regarding refrigeration at the AHR Expo. Component manufacturers will have some of the newest products such as those related to compressors.

And be especially aware of refrigerants. Here the refrigeration side is especially complex. There are a wide variety of HFC refrigerants for various ranges of refrigeration applications. There are both pure HFCs and those with a bit of HCs mixed in to allow such refrigerants to run on mineral oil. The important thing about the expo is that it gives you a chance to talk to the manufacturers about application options and limitations.

It is also possible that you will find information about pure HC refrigerants some of which have recently gained U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) approval. And there are the HFO refrigerants being talked about and experimented with in stationary applications, which have already gained a foothold in automotive. Again, the expo will have folks on hand to discuss those.

Like many expos, the AHR Expo consists of products currently on the market, those coming to market, and what might be coming. It is the time to ask questions to understand what you are currently dealing with, what you will be dealing with, and what may be part of your refrigeration and refrigerant options.

There will be much — way too much — to see at the expo. But if you are in the refrigeration business, please be sure to take time to check out the refrigeration component manufacturers and what’s happening regarding refrigerants.

Publication date: 01/09/2012