Contractors and technicians who work more in refrigeration than in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning sometimes feel like second cousins twice removed when so much more attention is focused on the HVAC than the R. In fact, when those capital letters are used, there is often a dash, slash, or hyphen, as in HVAC/R. (Fortunately, we at The News keep refrigeration in the immediate family, calling our publication The ACHR News - no dash, slash, etc.)

But refrigeration folks can take some comfort that there are many, many engineers, researchers, and manufacturers out there working hard to make the life of refrigeration contractors a bit easier.

This became quite apparent during the summer with the week-long International Congress of Refrigeration (ICR) in Washington. Over the past few months, various issues of The News have contained articles on various aspects of that event (including the articles "You Think You Know Cold?" and "NATE Talks Certification With ICR Crowd" in this issue).

When one looks at the sweep and scope of that week, one can find comfort. There were some 400 technical papers presented - the vast majority dealing with refrigeration issues. Pick a topic that concerns you - new refrigerants, maintaining even temperature in a walk-in, creating the ideal air curtain, flow condensation, exhaust heat power recovery, etc. - and rest assured more than one person is doing research on those topics. The presenters included those from academia, manufacturers, government, and private think tanks.

ICR is sponsored by the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), and one aspect of IIR is to offer special recognition to researchers under the age of 35 for work they are doing. The program is designed to encourage younger people to remain committed to the industry. Seven such individuals from throughout the world were honored in Washington.

At ICR, the 700 or so attendees heard keynote addresses from a Nobel Prize winner concerning ultra-low-temp cooling and a NASA official who discussed refrigeration in space. The week was certainly a mind-stretching experience.

Refrigeration research, of course, extends well beyond the framework of ICR. Purdue University hosts a compressor and refrigeration conference with another wave of papers on state-of-the-art research. Annual trade shows, like those sponsored by FMI, NRA, and IKK, show the latest in products reaching the market as the result of all that research.

And manufacturers are continuing their own research. It should be pointed out that manufacturers do want to make the life of contractors and technicians easier by providing better products and guidance on how to install and service that equipment. Happy customers are a manufacturer's best customers.

Rest assured that challenges contractors and technicians face in the refrigeration field are being talked about by a lot of qualified people, be they two researchers viewing a computer model or hundreds of engineers gathered at a major conference.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or peterpowell@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 11/03/2003