Mayekawa banking on natrefs for industrial refrigeration
Japanese manufacturer Mayekawa sees natural refrigerants playing a huge role in industrial refrigeration, both now and in the future.
The concept at the heart of Mayekawa’s product portfolio is the ‘Natural Five’: a range of HVAC&R solutions based on the five natural refrigerants – ammonia, CO2, hydrocarbons, water and air – that will help drive the phase-out of harmful HFCs.
“With the EU F-Gas Regulation, it’s natural for us to be promoting that,” Eric Delforge, corporate business and policy officer at Mayekawa Europe, told this website at their Chillventa booth.
“We can do that, because we’re one of the few companies with system solutions for all five refrigerants,” Delforge said.
With HFC phase-down deadlines under the EU’s F-Gas Regulation on the horizon, Delforge believes that “for natural refrigerants, we’re well beyond the point of no return”.
In Europe, he observes that many companies that have been actively using HFCs in their technologies are slowly but surely making the transition to alternatives.
Delforge sees opportunities for natural refrigerants here. “It will be a huge challenge for the chemical industry to penetrate into the industrial market with HFOs. I’m confident that won’t materialise,” he said.
China in the driving seat
Elsewhere, “it’s a different ball game” – in the Middle East, for example, manufacturers remain more accustomed to working with HFCs for industrial applications.
Still further east, “we should never underestimate the efforts that China is making to support the uptake of natural refrigerants,” Delforge said.
“I think we may be surprised by bold and pragmatic decisions in China, where some industries may decide to go full-steam ahead for natural refrigerants. These will be the game-changers in niches. This will then spread all over,” he said.
Delforge sees opportunities here for Mayekawa. “I’m confident that China might help us, in waves,” he said.
“If as a company you opt for a chemical as the refrigerant, you’re bound by the technical boundaries of that refrigerant. Your customers will also be bound to availability and pricing” – thus you find yourself restricted in terms of the type of technology you can build, Delforge argued.
The company’s philosophy of constant innovation is reflected in the NewTon, its flagship low-charge NH3-CO2 system for industrial applications. Also for industrial refrigeration, its ammonia heat pumps are capable of reaching temperatures as high as 94 degrees Celsius.
“We have a lot of experience in different applications and in different industries. This carries us forward to proclaim that propane, ammonia and other natural refrigerants are the solution – especially for industrial refrigeration,” Delforge said.
Mayekawa also builds systems that run on helium, for use in atomic energy projects.