The recent IKK show in Nuremburg, Germany, once again sent signals about technological changes that could impact the way contractors in the United States do business.

Not everything at IKK makes it to U.S. shores. But it was at IKK in past years when word about the worldwide demise of CFCs and HCFCs was first given credence.

The show this past fall once again was a mixture of many messages. Some companies were simply showing their latest products, trial ballooning some new innovation, or just trying to maintain their presence in a high-profile setting in the global marketplace. Some were trying to make inroads in countries beyond the nation of the home office.

It was also an expo where the majority of the 800 exhibitors offered food and drink (often of an alcoholic nature) to go along with products on display. Business is done in a more casual, conversational way at IKK than in many stateside shows.

TRENDS

Through it all, one can see a few trends. Detailed coverage of the show is being offered in future issues of The News, but here are a few significant trends and their potential impact on U.S. contractors.

  • CO2 — Europe has not united on any sort of major push to phase out HFCs, although there have been some efforts in that direction. At the same time, the industry has been looking beyond HFCs and is pointing to CO2 as a replacement refrigerant. This year at IKK, for the first time, a number of countries were showing commercially available equipment running on CO2.

    Message: U.S. contractors need to continue to become comfortable with HFCs as long-term refrigerants, but it may not be a bad idea to at least keep an eye on developments regarding CO2 — just in case.

  • Refrigeration scrolls — Scroll compressors for refrigeration applications have been gaining acceptance, but not as fast as some might have thought or hoped. The announcement by Danfoss at IKK that it was entering the refrigeration scroll market (where Cope-land and Bitzer had previously established a beachhead) indicates that approach to refrigeration could well gain greater acceptance.

    Message: Look for refrigeration scroll technology to gain more attention and find itself in more systems.

  • Shaved ice via rotating evaporators — The customary approach to creating ice using a harvest cycle or auger seems to be taking a back seat in Europe to an approach involving a constantly rotating evaporator shaving off ice. This is for ice used in display cases or aboard fishing vessels. Europe has little interest in ice for drinking water. But the point to be made here is that rotating, evaporator-created shaved ice garnered some interest in Europe a half dozen or so years ago.

    The technology only made cameo appearances at U.S.-based refrigeration shows until last spring, when the technology was shown by a major ice machine manufacturer, Scotsman, at a major trade show. Now at the most recent IKK, virtually every one of the dozen or so ice machine companies featured the rotating technology as the major or only way to go.

    Message: Look for rotating evaporator technology to catch on in the United States.

    THE EURO

    This year marked the first time attendees at IKK had to deal with Euros instead of Deutsch Marks as the form of currency. DMs used to fluctuate widely. One year, $100 American dollars got you about 170 DMs, the next year about 140 DMs.

    Euros are pegged pretty close to U.S. dollars, so we could get a pretty good handle on what things cost. Folks in Germany claimed prices of almost everything went up in the initial conversion, especially in restaurants. But a glass of wine for 3 Euros and an excellent pork stroganoff for 15 Euros translated to about $18 U.S., a pretty good price for a meal. (By the way, the prices listed in the menu factor in taxes and tip. So that $18 meal is a really good deal.)

    Clothes are a different matter. The brand-name jeans that I bought on sale at a discount store in the U.S. for about $29 were listed at 67 Euros (or $67) in one store window in Nuremburg.

    Message: It is better to eat than to shop in Germany. Not a bad idea, when you think about it.

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

    Publication date: 11/25/2002