Cold chain compliance: time to take a stand on compressor technology

Edinburgh, Scotland: The refrigeration industry is being urged to draw a ‘line in the sand’ on legacy compressor technologies in order to truly embrace refrigerants with a low global warming potential.

The warning, from Vert Technologies, focuses on the need for refrigeration OEMs and design engineers to consider compressor technology optimised to operate with natural, low-global warming potential refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia.
 
Nicol Low, chief operating officer, Vert Technologies, said the F-Gas Regulation remains a major talking point for Cold Chain Compliance Week organised by the Cold Chain Federation and taking place this week.

“Ultimately, the decisions that are being made today will impact systems which remain in operation long after the 2030 phase-down of refrigerants such as R404A, R410A and R134A. While the environmental benefits of low-GWP refrigerants are well-documented, their high-pressure ratios and high absolute pressure requirements present a number of operational challenges for traditional scroll or screw compressors.”
 
“Often, these types of compressor have to be daisy-chained to meet the required pressure ratios or absolute pressures, adding size, cost and inefficiency to a system. However, the emergence of new compressor technologies presents an opportunity for OEMs and design engineers to draw a line in the sand for those which have inhibited the use of low-GWP refrigerants at scale.”
 
One such technology is Vert’s Conical Rotary Compressor. In comparison to traditional twin screw compressor technologies that use rotating screws placed side by side to generate compressed air, the Vert technology places one rotor inside the other.
 
The rotors turn in the same direction at different speeds compressing the air or gas as it travels down the conical screw to deliver a low noise, low vibration compressor capable of producing the exceptionally high pressures mandated by natural refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia.
 
Nicol continues: “We can optimise the rotor geometry of the Conical Rotary Compressor to provide the most efficient solution for the media we are pumping and the application it is destined for. We can also vary the internal compression ratio of the rotors to target specific high-pressure ratios should the application warrant it. This is particularly relevant for refrigeration markets where high pressures are required to compress low-GWP refrigerants. Indeed, we have tested the compressors with an operating pressure ratio of up to 301, compared to the norm of 8-10:1.
 
“Another major USP of the Conical Rotary Compressor technology is that it is inherently quieter and has less vibration than the noisy reciprocating compressors which are currently the go-to technology for CO2. With a 1.5 kW air compressor we can deliver 15 bar(g) pressure and an air flow of 200lpm but with only 60 dB(A) noise before any sound dampening materials are added.”
 
“Ultimately, low-GWP refrigerants will become increasingly normalised across the sector. The emergence of compressor technology which can meet the mandated pressure ratios for these refrigerants without adding significant cost to a system design is undoubtedly a game-changer. However, this a conversation that needs to happen today, not in another nine years’ time.”
 
Vert is already working with several OEMs in the refrigeration sector and the expectation is that at least one will reach volume sales or licensing stage of the CRC by the end of 2021.

www.vert.co.uk

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