Anytime I think the HVACR industry is only what happens in the United States, I just need to read through some of the publications I get from beyond U.S. borders. One such publication is the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIF) Newsletter, published by the Institut International du Froid in Paris.

The July newsletter demonstrates the global marketplace and how what happens elsewhere affects the States - and vice versa.

For example, the newsletter quoted the market researcher IGD as seeing China set to become an even larger retail market. The report said, "China is fast closing in on the U.S. global food retail market, with the United States set to account for 19 percent of the global market share according to 2020 forecasts (about a 3 percent drop from 2003 figures), while China reaches 15 percent (up from a current 8 percent)."

There is also a huge demand in China for air conditioners. The newsletter quoted a Japanese refrigeration publication in reporting that from September 2003 to August 2004, 26 million domestic units were sold in China while 24 million export units were sold. Much of the latter came from companies headquartered outside of China, but with plants in China producing product for that country.

Air conditioning demand is also on the rise in Europe. In France, overall air conditioner sales almost doubled in 2004 compared to 2003. Mobile units rose 150 percent in one year, single-splits rose 95 percent, and multi-splits rose 105 percent. Some 80 percent of splits sold were reversible and 42 percent of all split system sales used inverters.

In countries such as Austria, Holland, and Germany, heat pump sales were described respectively as having "good growth," "remarkable growth," and "ongoing growth."


Other parts of the world can't take a back seat to United States technology. The newsletter did go into detail about efforts at Purdue University to create a micro-channel heat sink, described as a copper plate containing numerous grooves. This is a technology the newsletter said was aimed "to replace conventional evaporators."

But the publication also detailed efforts in Germany to use radio frequency identification to replace barcodes; a project in Norway to create a so-called hydrogen highway in which hydrogen-powered vehicles would be used; and a British-made motorbike using fuel cells. Those last two technologies have significance every time a technician pulls up in one of today's service vans or trucks and has to fill up with gasoline.


Keeping up with a changing marketplace and new technologies means looking beyond the United States for conferences. For example, the International Congress of Refrigeration meets only once every four years, but it spans the world to assure a wide range of involvement. The most recent conference was in 2003 in Washington, D.C. (I attended that one and it was an eye-opener.) The 2007 event is in Beijing, and the 2011 conference will be in Prague.

Soon I will be heading to Hannover, Germany, for another major event in both refrigeration and air conditioning. It is the IKK Show (Nov. 2-4) and will feature some 650 exhibitors. It will be preceded (on Nov. 1) by what appears to be a significant daylong forum detailing what are being called "innovations in refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump technologies for the reduction of CO2 emissions."

I used to go to the IKK show to see what technologies might find their way to the United States. I now realize in this global marketplace that whatever ideas or concepts become a reality and are tried in one locale will in some way have an impact in many other parts of the world.

I know a number of stateside contractors have been to IKK in the past, and it is worth attending if at all possible. If not, you are encouraged to monitor developments from there (and elsewhere internationally for that matter) through the Internet and by reading reports in The News.

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

Publication date: 10/03/2005