R290 units in Vietnam's cold stores delivering 20-25% efficiency gains over R22

In 2014, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) initiated a project entitled “Reducing greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance emissions through technology transfer in industrial refrigeration” in Vietnam.

R290 units were installed in four companies to replace previous R22-based systems. A full conversion with a total of nine R290 refrigeration units, was complemented by partial conversions in three other cold storage sites featuring another 16 hydrocarbon units.

The equipment, containing just 1.6 kg of hydrocarbon refrigerant per unit, reduces the risk of fire to a minimum, while providing the necessary cooling capacity for keeping small cold room temperatures to -20°C at ambient temperatures of 35°C. Compared to larger ammonia-based systems, the hydrocarbon units were expected to reduce installation costs to a fraction of those of ammonia systems.

After 11 months in operation, expectations have not just been met, but exceeded by far with average energy efficiency gains of 20-25%.