ASHRAE President Ron Vallort urges scientists and researchers to bring refrigeration to areas of the world most in need of the technology.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Refrigeration of the future will be even more energy efficient and environmentally correct. The plans and expertise needed to make that happen exist 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 joint Compressor Engineering Conference and Refrigeration & Air Conditioning conferences at Purdue University.

Bruce Hunn, representing the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, described work within ASHRAE that includes "strategic initiatives meeting future needs with carefully crafted re-search 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 include integrated design for whole buildings for the entire life of the buildings. The effort includes linking all aspects of building including security. Another area deals with comfort, health, and productivity related to IAQ, acoustics, lighting, and "general well being," even if some of those areas can be subjective.

Then there is a focus, he said, on building operations with self-correcting mechanisms, peak load management, and consideration of biochemical hazards.

Other areas involve simulation and design tools; a need for inexpensive, self-calibrating, plug-and-play design tools; alternative cooling technologies; refrigerant alternatives; improved food chain and storage; and renewable energy options.

The fountain on Purdue mall.
Mark Menzer, of the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute, reported on aspects of the 21st Century Research (21CR) program. This includes "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 the 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 and peak use 50 percent by 2020 in residential buildings, and by 25 percent in new commercial buildings. With regard to supermarket refrigeration, he said efforts should be made to significantly reduce refrigerant leaks and reduce energy usage in display cases by 25 percent.

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

Kent Anderson, of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, 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 are low costs, adaptability, and self-diagnosis.

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

Raymond Cohen of Purdue University (left) pays recognition to Jacob Bayyouk, vice president, Engineering, Sanden International (U.S.A.) Inc., for his services to the Purdue compressor and refrigeration conferences and to the industry overall.

The Human Equation

Amidst all the research, ASHRAE President Ron Vallort said he is hoping that attention is always paid to those who most need to benefit from refrigeration advancements. "We find ourselves taken aback by the tasks that still lie ahead of us," he said in a banquet keynote address. That involves improvements to the "cold chain" to better reach regions and people not well served by refrigeration.

"As the world's population increases, the dynamics of food supply and storage versus population will be crucial. With the population currently increasing at a rate of 77 million people per year, mostly in areas where food deficits already exist, the burden is on us to be the technological link in the cold chain.

"We need to advance refrigeration technology to enable all the people of the world to enjoy the benefits of refrigeration."

He noted that ASHRAE has some 100 technical committees covering a wide range of topics. "But through it all, I encourage our committee members to ask themselves this question when discussing research, programs, or information: How does this impact our industry and the public?"

Vallort pointed out that the need for refrigeration extends beyond food supplies to include medical care. "Refrigeration is a vital part of the infrastructure necessary to deliver vaccines worldwide, especially to areas like sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is great. Thousands of lives around the world have been saved by vaccines for diseases such as polio, measles, chickenpox, and hepatitis."

He called on ASHRAE members and others within the industry "to participate in worldwide programs to update HVACR technology, such as working with engineers in developing or war-torn countries. We should encourage institutions to construct more hands-on technical facilities for the training of technicians and operators of refrigeration systems. We can target research programs that benefit people living in countries with limited funds and technology.

"Refrigeration needs to be revitalized to better serve the needs of the world," he said. "We need to seek the best in refrigerants, efficiency, cost reduction, reliability, and energy utilization for all types of refrigeration: industrial, transport, and domestic. Heating and air conditioning will also have to be enhanced to make inhospitable land habitable."

Publication date: 08/23/2004