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Sonia Saini

Auburn, Washington-based manufacturer Pro Refrigeration has obtained funding for an independent evaluation of two California installations of its PROGreen CO2 (R744) Hybrid Series chiller to directly compare the operating efficiency of the CO2-only part versus the R448A-based part, following its own tests showing “significant” energy savings from the CO2 side.

Funding comes from CalNEXT, an emerging electric-technologies program for California designed and implemented by Energy Solutions.

In 2021, Pro Refrigeration introduced its standard 100HP CO2-only PROGreen packaged chiller, equipped with Alfa Laval heat exchangers, targeting its traditional customer base of dairy farms, breweries and wineries. That was followed in 2022 with the two-part PROGreen Hybrid, which combines the CO2 Chiller with PRO’s R448A V Piston system, which serves as a backup to the CO2 system; each part has its own electrical power supplies and control centers, but the overall system operates on a single chassis with a shared 2,000gal (7,571L)-capacity chilled propylene glycol tank.

“The PROGreen R744 Hybrid Series offers dairy farms the advantages of a CO2‑based system, including heat recovery and reduced power consumption,” said Pro Refrigeration. “It heralds a new era for dairy farms, delivering unprecedented performance in milk cooling and water heating efficiency, cost-effectiveness and sustainability gains.”

The hybrid design has given Pro Refrigeration the opportunity to do long-term energy comparisons of the CO2 and R448A components. “We are logging kW usage individually on each refrigerant,” said Jim VanderGiessen, CEO and Co-Founder of Pro Refrigeration. “Based on our data we see significant kW savings on the R744 system versus the synthetic-based system.”

The first site that will undergo independent evaluation of its hybrid system is Costa View Farms in Madera, California, with a report on the results published in January 2025. “We look forward to sharing this report,” said VanderGiessen.

Pro Refrigeration developed the hybrid model because its customers wanted to see a hybrid option in addition to the CO2-only and R448A-only options, he said. (R449A is also available as an f-gas refrigerant.) Dairy farms typically oversize their chiller systems, requesting 100% redundancy to provide backup in the event of a system fault or alarm, the company noted.

Both parts of the hybrid system are kept active, with the CO2 part the primary system and the R448A part the backup. According to VanderGiessen, the R448A part is used less than 1% of the time: when there is a fault in the CO2 part, or there is an ambient temperature issue. “It is normal to see both sides running during high cooling loads and during high ambient,” he said.

Pro Refrigeration credited Swedish manufacturer Alfa Laval with helping in the chiller’s company’s transition to CO2-based units. “We were fortunate to have Alfa Laval as a key supply partner on our PROGreen team,” said VanderGiessen.

In particular, Alfa Laval helped Pro Refrigeration to deal with higher CO2 pressures, which called for adjustments in infrastructure and technician training, and to achieve “a threefold increase in the heat recovery, enabling the reuse of nearly all the waste heat,” said Damon Reed, Pro Refrigeration’s Chief Operating Officer.

The PROGreen CO2 chiller, both the stand-alone unit and the system in the hybrid chiller, incorporates Alfa Laval’s AXP and CBXP brazed heat exchangers for different functions, including heat recovery, sub-cooling and evaporation.

Robust heat recovery

Waste heat recovery has proven to be one of the most significant benefits of the PROGreen CO2 chiller. For example:

  • William & John Jongsma Dairy in California slashed its annual propane usage by 75%, saving over 45gal (170L) per day, or about $4,500 (€4,114) a month based on an average price of $3 (€2.74) per gallon.
  • Another California farm, South Creek Dairy, saved over $1,400 (€1,280) per month using PROGreen to generate hot water above 150°F (65.5°C) from waste heat, eliminating the need for their natural gas water heater.

Waste heat recovery from the CO2 system raises water temperatures from 70°F (21°C) to over 180°F (82°C), exceeding the limitations of f-gas-based systems, which typically heat water only to 125°F (52°C), said Pro Refrigeration. Both the hybrid system and the standard CO2 chiller system are equipped with the same heat-recovery capabilities.

VanderGiessen sees a role for propane (R290) in chillers as well as CO2. “Our business strategy hinges on shifting focus from synthetic-based refrigerants towards natural alternatives such as CO2 and propane. Both are needed to replace synthetics,” he said. “This paradigm shift is already underway in Europe, where diverse solutions are the norm. There is no one-refrigerant-fits-all solution.”

“Today, CO2 is emerging as the frontrunner for PRO customers who want to replace synthetic-based systems, especially those with high demand for hot water at drastically reduced or no cost,” he added. “The emergence of propane-based systems in the U.S. also signals a promising future.”

“Our business strategy hinges on shifting focus from synthetic-based refrigerants towards natural alternatives such as CO2 and propane.”

Jim VanderGiessen, CEO of Pro RefrigerationCalNEXT


The Italian company said its MAC unit can provide heating, cooling and hot water using a fraction of the electricity of traditional systems.
Sonia Saini

MT Innovation, an Italian company specializing in product research and development, has created a prototype mobile air-conditioning (MAC) unit for camper vans that uses ammonia-water (R717-R718) absorption technology.

The unit offers a cooling and heating capacity of 3kW (0.85TR) and 6kW (1.7TR), respectively, and MT Innovation said it uses only 5% of the electricity required by traditional camper van MAC systems. It can provide space heating and cooling and domestic hot water. MT Innovation did not specify the charge size of its prototype MAC unit.

“A car typically consumes around 2L [0.52gal] of fuel every hour to cool the passenger compartment,” Luca Barin, Research and Development Specialist at MT Innovation, told “Our system, however, uses between 0.1 to 0.6L [0.02 to 0.15gal] of fuel per hour. It uses 0L when the cooling heat is fully recovered from the engine and up to 0.6L when the vehicle is off or parked.”

Designed to be scalable and adaptable, the system is built in blocks with the fluid supply circuit separated from the refrigeration section. The company notes its modular design ensures compatibility with a variety of vehicles outside of camper vans and even boats. The prototype measures 60 × 40 × 35cm (23.6 × 15.7 × 13.8in) – those dimensions are expected to shrink by 30% in the production version according to Barin – and weighs less than 30kg (66lbs).

The ammonia-water absorption cycle requires heat, which can be provided by waste heat in gas-powered vehicles or by a small burner that can use gasoline from the vehicle’s tank, hydrogen from a fuel cell or natural gas as its fuel source. MT Innovation has not disclosed the charge size of the unit.

MT Innovation said it patented its ammonia-water absorption MAC unit in 2020 and that it received financing for the project from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) at the end of 2021. The company told that a working prototype will be presented to “interested companies” in September 2024. 

The technology

MT Innovation’s prototype MAC system operates by leveraging the absorption properties of ammonia and water. Ammonia acts as the refrigerant, while water serves as the absorbent. The cycle begins in the evaporator, where ammonia absorbs heat and evaporates. The gaseous ammonia is absorbed by water in the absorber, creating an ammonia-water solution. This solution is then pumped to the generator where heat is applied, causing the ammonia to vaporize and separate from the water.

The ammonia vapor proceeds to the condenser, where it releases heat and condenses back into a liquid. Before returning to the evaporator, the ammonia passes through an expansion valve, lowering its pressure and temperature and allowing it to absorb heat once more in the evaporator.

Throughout the process, the regenerative heat exchanger helps to improve efficiency by transferring heat between the solutions entering and leaving the generator. The dephlegmator is involved in removing any remaining water vapor from the ammonia vapor, ensuring pure ammonia enters the condenser.

From left, Simone Barin, Maria Reginella and Luca Barin, inventors and coordinators of the ammonia-absorption MAC unit project at MT Innovation. Photo credit: MT Innovation.

NatRefs in MAC

While ammonia-water absorption technology has not been seen before in the MAC sector, the use of natural refrigerants is on the rise.

According to a recent white paper from consulting firm Ducker Carlisle, manufacturers of plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles are “high likely” to opt for natural refrigerants like CO2 (R744) or propane (R290) in place of HFO 1234yf in mobile air-conditioning systems over the next five years. The consulting firm notes that this shift is driven by stricter environmental legislation and an anticipated EU regulation that could ban R1234yf by 2030. 

The transition is also influenced by government subsidies favoring low-GWP refrigerants and the need to improve vehicle performance, particularly battery range and lifespan. CO2 heat pumps, for example, have shown higher efficiency in EVs due to increased suction vapor density and the elimination of auxiliary heaters.

This trend is further evidenced by Volkswagen’s commitment to using R744 heat pumps in all its EVs by 2030, a strategy the Ducker Carlisle white paper said is likely to be followed by other automakers.

“A car typically consumes around 2L [0.52gal] of fuel every hour to cool the passenger compartment. Our system, however, uses between 0.1 to 0.6L [0.02 to 0.15gal] of fuel per hour. .”

Luca Barin, Research and Development Specialist at MT Innovation

The Denver-based facility stores more than 82,020 feet of ice cores at temperatures as low as −32.8°F.
Sonia Saini

The U.S. National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF) in Denver, Colorado, has announced that it is replacing its hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-based refrigeration system with a transcritical CO2 (R744) unit.

The Denver facility stores 82,020 feet (25,000 meters) of ice cores harvested from North America, Antarctica and Greenland. In addition to storage, the facility is also used by scientists and academics to cut ice cores for further studies back at their laboratories or universities.

The NSF-ICF is the world’s largest ice core storage facility. Its main storage room measures 55,000ft3 (1,557m3) and is kept at −32.8°F (−36°C). The facility’s examination room, where ice cores are cut, is 12,000ft3 (339m3) and is kept at −11.2°F (−24°C). 

Michael Jackson, Program Director for Antarctic Earth Sciences at the NSF and the manager of the refrigeration system update, told Nature the NSF decided to replace its existing HCFC refrigeration system due to its age and poor performance. He said the move to CO2 was driven by a desire for an efficient and future-proof refrigerant.

“[It] is more efficient at low operating temperatures,” said Jackson. “It is difficult to quantify, but CO2 appears to be the most future-proof low-temperature refrigerant.”

The ice cores stored at the NSF-ICF present a window into past climatic conditions, with one of the cores dating back more than 4 million years and some drilled from depths exceeding 2 miles (3.2km). Scientists study the cores, which are formed as layers of snow are compressed one on top of another, to understand everything from past temperatures to atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

The NSF-ICF did not provide Nature with technical details of its new transcritical CO2 refrigeration system. has reached out to the facility seeking more information and will update this story with new information if it becomes available.

Moving to NatRefs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a GWP limit of 150 for many new types of refrigeration equipment under authority granted to it by the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. Compliance dates begin in 2025, and with a GWP of 1, CO2-based equipment is not subject to any restrictions.

Curt La Bombard, Curator of NSF-ICF, said his team has offered assistance to other ice core storage facilities interested in moving to transcritical CO2 refrigeration. Per Nature, a handful of universities are paying close attention to the Denver facility’s refrigeration system upgrade as they consider replacements for their own equipment. “We’re in the same boat,” Ellen Mosley-Thompson, a Paleoclimatologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, told Nature.

The NSF-ICF is not the first large ice core storage facility to opt for natural refrigerants, with Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research using an ammonia (R717) refrigeration system. Two other comparable facilities, one at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and another at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, both use HFC-based refrigeration systems.

“It is difficult to quantify, but CO2 appears to be the most future-proof low-temperature refrigerant.”

Michael Jackson, Program Director for Antarctic Earth Sciences at the NSF

The nonprofit will offer on-demand training for companies and will hold one of its technician training summits in the Pacific Northwest for the first time.
Sonia Saini

The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) has announced that it will expand its offerings to include private, on-demand training and that it will host one of its Natural Refrigerant Training Summits in the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

The on-demand training will be led by Rusty Walker, the California-based nonprofit’s Training Director, at the company’s location and will be customizable. The NASRC said the on-demand program was rolled out in response to “increasing demand for year-round refrigeration training.”

In November 2024, the NASRC will bring its Natural Refrigerant Training Summit to the Pacific Northwest. Through its free training program, the NASRC aims to provide industry technicians with the opportunity to become more familiar with the latest natural refrigerant technologies.

Danielle Wright, Executive Director of the NASRC, told at the organization’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, training summit in March that the event would be held in Seattle, Washington.

“We’re excited to continue building on this momentum as we scale the program to support refrigeration technicians in every corner of the country,” said Morgan Smith, Senior Director of NASRC. “We’re incredibly grateful to the entire refrigeration industry for rallying together to accelerate training offerings for technicians.”

Since April 2023, the NASRC has hosted four Natural Refrigerant Training Summits – two in Irwindale, California, one in Pittsburgh and one in St. Louis, Missouri – attracting more than 1,600 attendees in total. Over 900 of the summit participants were technicians, while 370 were HVAC&R students and teachers.

Its most recent summit took place in Irwindale in May 2024. It was co-hosted by utility provider Southern California Edison and featured comprehensive training on CO2 (R744)- and propane (R290)-based technologies from leading industry experts and manufacturers, including Copeland, Hillphoenix and Kysor Warren Epta US.

“We’re excited to continue building on this momentum as we scale the program to support refrigeration technicians in every corner of the country.”

Morgan Smith, NASRC

Workforce development

With the main objective of expanding the adoption of natural refrigerants in U.S. supermarkets, the NASRC focuses heavily on activities that will grow the commercial refrigeration technician workforce.

Its 2023 Workforce Development Assessment found that the nationwide shortage of commercial refrigeration technicians is “disrupting essential operations, creating a bottleneck to transitioning away from HFC refrigerants and threatening U.S. supermarkets’ ability to meet new regulatory requirements.”

The assessment outlined data-driven solutions to improve recruitment, training and retention for refrigeration technicians, inspiring the development of its on-demand technician training program.

Advancing NatRefs in the U.S.

In addition to providing training for various industry stakeholders, the NASRC also helps support the sector’s transition away from f-gases by coordinating funding opportunities to offset the upfront costs of natural refrigerant technologies.

Earlier this year, the NASRC became a third-party administrator for the California Air Resources Board’s F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP). The program aims to reduce high-GWP emissions by incentivizing the adoption of climate-friendly – particularly ultra-low-GWP (GWP less than 10) – technologies.

The organization also works with New York State on its grant program to replace HFC refrigeration, advises government agencies on policy and technical applications and contributes to industry best practices, standards and codes.

At the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2024, Danielle Wright, Executive Director of the NASRC, was named Person of the Year at the annual conference’s awards ceremony. The conference took place June 10–11 in Washington, D.C., and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

The program’s four courses provided 60 students with hands-on experience in propane-based refrigeration applications.
Sonia Saini

To support the phasedown of HFCs in Vietnam, the Green Cooling Initiative (GCI) III project recently hosted a series of training courses, equipping 60 students with hands-on experience in the safe handling of natural refrigerants, with a focus on propane (R290)-based refrigeration applications.

With the global transition away from f-gases, there has been a notable increase in demand for technicians proficient in green cooling technologies. This demand is expected to grow as the world continues to move towards more sustainable practices.

“As the planet continues to warm, refrigeration equipment plays a crucial role across various sectors,” said Nguyen Dang Thu Cuc, National Ozone Office Coordinator at Vietnam’s Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). “Consequently, safety has become more critical than ever.”

“Governmental agencies such as MONRE anticipate close and intensive collaboration with our international partners and vocational colleges to offer more training courses in the near future,” she added. “This will undoubtedly contribute to meeting the demands of the future market.”

“As the planet continues to warm, refrigeration equipment plays a crucial role across various sectors. Consequently, safety has become more critical than ever.”

Nguyen Dang Thu Cuc, MONRE

Following Vietnam’s ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in September 2019, the country’s HFC phasedown officially began in January 2024. In ratifying the amendment, Vietnam has agreed to freeze its production and consumption of HFCs from 2024 and eventually achieve a 80% reduction by 2045, compared to 2020–2022 levels.

The GCI III project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI), has worked on multiple interventions to support Vietnam’s transition to sustainable cooling. Efforts to date have included policy advice, technology transfer and capacity building. This latest training program was part of its capacity-building activities.

Developing practical skills

The program consisted of four courses, which took place from October 2023 to March 2024 at the Hanoi College of Electronics and Electro-refrigeratory Technics (HCEET) and the Hanoi Industrial Vocational College.

Course participants came from various backgrounds, including vocational trainers and local HVAC&R technicians.

Each course featured skill-based sessions covering tool proficiency, pipeline operation, substance recovery and weldless pipe connection techniques. A knowledge-sharing session on international and national management policies on phasing out ODS was also included. The practical training was designed to enhance trainees expertise in green cooling technologies with a focus on developing their technical and tactical skills, explained the GCI III project.

Students learning how to use a refrigerant recovery machine. (Source: HCEET)
Students learning how to use a refrigerant recovery machine. (Source: HCEET)

Participants provided positive feedback and recommended organizers expand their offerings around the country.

To enhance diversity within the sector, which has traditionally been male-dominated, organizers are looking to tailor their vocational training to encourage and accommodate the participation of women. This could include the use of female trainers, something that was widely valued in the March 2024 Training of Trainers course.

“Moving forward, the GCI III project aims to actively promote gender mainstreaming across all its interventions and activities,” the organizers said.

Transcritical CO2 training

The GCI III project also recently co-funded an advanced transcritical CO2 (R744) training program for eight refrigeration technicians and policymakers from Bangladesh, Colombia, Kenya, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The week-long course was organized by Europe-based refrigeration manufacturer Carrier and German government agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). It was hosted at Carrier’s CO2OLacademy in Wiesbaden, Germany, where participants could work with a fully operational R744 refrigeration system simulating a supermarket environment.

In preparation for their hands-on experience in Germany, participants received 12 hours of online training. Once at the CO2OLacademy, trainees took part in various practical sessions, including working with a CO2 training rack. According to organizers, the rack is slated to be shipped to a training facility in Kenya.

In October 2023, Carrier and GIZ announced that they would be establishing the “first-ever” East African transcritical CO2 supermarket training center.

Previously, the GCI has organized or funded several educational initiatives for stakeholders from around the world, including Grenada, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste. It also facilitated a study tour to China to promote the adoption of energy-efficient R290-based air-conditioning through international exchange and knowledge sharing.

In addition to technician training programs, the GCI also offers a free online Cool Training course that is open to everyone. Previously available in English, French and Spanish, it is now also offered in Arabic and Portuguese.

The organization promotes the rapid and healthy development of the Chinese heat pump industry and serves as a bridge and between the government and enterprises.
Sonia Saini

The China Heat Pump Alliance (CHPA), an industry organization supporting the adoption of heat pumps in China, has joined the world’s leading natural refrigerant HVAC&R stakeholders as a silver partner of ATMOsphere’s marketplace.

Established in August 2014, CHPA is the Heat Pump Professional Committee of the China Energy Conservation Association (CECA). CHPA’s predecessor was the China Heat Pump Industry Alliance, formed by CECA and the International Copper Association (China) in Shanghai on July 28, 2009.

CHPA is composed of enterprises and individuals engaged in research, production, operation, investment and consulting related to heat pumps in China. CHPA’s members include more than 400 major manufacturers and professional media in the heat pump industry, including Midea, Gree, Haier, China Broadcasting, New Energy, Seasons Midea, Sunrain, Finney, Highly, Emerson, Danfoss, Bioenergy, TCL, Tongyi, Tianshu, A.O. Smith and Xinhu.

CHPA’s purpose is to integrate and coordinate industrial resources as well as improve the research, development, manufacturing, integration and service level of heat pump technology, products and business of its members. The organization promotes the rapid and healthy development of the heat pump industry and serves as a bridge and between the government and enterprises.

Hosting annual conference

CHPA will host the 2024 China Heat Pump Industry Annual Conference and China Heat Pump Forum (CHPF) in Shanghai, August 6–8. The conference will showcase the latest in heat pump innovation and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to connect and strategize, with the aim of enabling participants to learn about recent and future developments.

According to organizers, the CHPF is the world’s largest heat pump conference and is widely recognized as the “most significant global forum” for facilitating collaboration, engagement and innovation within the industry.

“This forum has consistently led the charge in promoting heat pump technologies and energizing the growth of the heat pump industry,” said Hengyi Zhao, General Secretary of CHPA. “Much progress has been made in the past twelve years, yet we are just warming up.”

In addition to the main forum, the conference will include seven sub-forums, each of which will cover a range of topics impacting the sector. Sessions will include presentations from major manufacturers and experts from various national and international organizations like the International Energy Agency (IEA), the European Heat Pump Association, the Heat Pump and Thermal Storage Technology Center of Japan (HPTCJ) and ATMOsphere.

According to the CHPA, China is currently at the center of heat pump research, product development and manufacturing, making the CHPF a crucial event for both national and international stakeholders.

As noted by IEA in its recent report – “The Future of Heat Pumps in China” – heat pumps will play a vital role in China’s 2060 net-zero emissions target, given the country’s significant consumption of heat.

“Much progress has been made in the past twelve years, yet we are just warming up.”

Hengyi Zhao, General Secretary of CHPA

The U.S.-based OEM is working to expand the use of transcritical CO2 beyond smaller, more traditional applications with large packaged systems.
Sonia Saini

Collaboration among all stakeholders is critical for the successful adoption of large-capacity transcritical CO2 (R744) technologies in industrial refrigeration applications, according to John Collins, Director of Industrial Sales at U.S. OEM Zero Zone.

Traditionally, transcritical CO2 systems have been limited to smaller retail applications. However, over the last decade, the manufacturer has been working to expand the use of the technology into industrial projects with the development of large R744-based packaged systems.

“As the industry moves towards natural refrigeration, customers in the industrial market are demanding large-scale transcritical systems to meet their requirements,” he said. “Collaboration is critical to building cuttingedge systems while meeting customer needs like sustainability, budget constraints and tight project schedule.”

To keep projects moving, all parties – from designers and end users to OEM and the installation team – must work together from concept inception through to implementation, he added.

“As the industry moves towards natural refrigeration, customers in the industrial market are demanding large-scale transcritical systems to meet their requirements.”

John Collins, Zero Zone

Collins delivered these remarks during his presentation alongside Scott Ercole, Vice President of Technical Sales at U.S. contractor CoolSys, in a Refrigeration Case Studies session at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2024. The conference took place June 10–11 in Washington, D.C., and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

During their presentation, Collins and Ercole shared details of one of their latest industrial CO2 installations at a 460TR (1.6MW) low-temperature food storage facility in Arkansas.

According to Collins, the project demonstrates how to apply transcritical CO2 refrigeration to large-capacity industrial facilities, something that was once not considered practical.

Designing to extensive specifications

The new 824,000ft2 (76,552m2) facility includes 120,000ft2 (11,148m2) of racked freezer storage space, which is kept at −10°F (−23.3°C) and has a cooling demand of 400TR (1.4MW). The site also features a refrigerated docking area that requires an additional 60TR (211kW) in cooling capacity, explained Ercole during his presentation.

Due to the customer’s capacity requirements, as well as insurance regulations, safety concerns and their 2050 net-zero emissions targets, CO2 was deemed the most appropriate option for the facility’s refrigeration system.

In terms of system design, several environmental and logistical factors influenced the decision-making process, he added.

“The customer has extensive specifications and guidelines,” he said. “They did not want any equipment to go on the roof, and the amount of space they had around the facility on the ground was not a lot. The customer also had a very tight schedule, with nine months from design to start up. All of these factors went into the upfront decision-making process.”

Scott Ercole, CoolSys, at ATMO America Summit 2024.
Scott Ercole, CoolSys, at ATMO America Summit 2024.

Evaporator coil placement was also difficult due to the design of the fire sprinkler system – specified by insurance regulations – and the end user’s wanting to maximize the amount of rack storage

“It took a lot of coordination with the design team and customer to get that all laid out,” said Ercole. “We had to make sure that we could throw air 250 feet [76.2m] across with coil placements.”

Designing and building such a large-capacity packaged system was also a significant challenge, he explained.

The project team opted for two of Zero Zone’s Genesys CO2 transcritical systems. The two units were ground mounted and placed on either side of the building to be closely located to the freezer, and refrigerated docking bay evaporator coils would be installed.

“Having these distributed systems located around the facility helped reduce fuel piping, wiring and refrigerant charge,” Ercole added.

“Having these distributed systems located around the facility helped reduce fuel piping, wiring and refrigerant charge.”

Scott Ercole, CoolSys

Improved performance and monitoring

To enable the efficient use of transcritical CO2 in the southern U.S. climate, an adiabatic gas cooler was installed. Variable-speed fans and adaptive water control further enhance the efficiency of the gas cooler.

Other system features included multi-stage compression, “generously sized” suction accumulators and fan-speed controls, which help to reduce energy consumption across the system, Ercole said. A heat recovery system was added to one refrigeration rack to supply underfloor heating inside the facility.

Opting for large-capacity reciprocating compressors helped to reduce the overall size of the refrigeration system.

“We were given the ability to select the best components for the application,” said Collins. “We determined that Dorin compressors were the best fit, and they helped us to get more capacity and smaller footprint.”

An integrated control system was installed to monitor equipment performance in real-time and to allow off-site engineers and technical staff to adjust parameters remotely, he added.

Globally, Zero Zone has installed hundreds of CO2 systems globally since it first started working with the technology in 2012. CoolSys, one of the country’s largest service and construction companies, has been installing CO2-based technologies since 2010. As of August 2023, at least 65% of the contractor’s installations used natural refrigerants.

According to Collins, the two companies have formed a good strong working relationship, allowing them to work effectively across system design and build.

Why It Matters: Curated News With Commentary

New Canadian Law Targets Greenwashing

Why It Matters: Canada recently passed Bill C-59, which includes substantial additions to the Competition Act aimed at regulating greenwashing. The bill requires environmental and climate change-related representations to be backed up by testing, or by substantiation in accordance with internationally recognized methodology. It also introduces a private right of action against a company that is alleged to have contravened the new greenwashing provisions. Under Canada’s new law, these claims must be substantiated and the burden is on companies to prove that their claims can be justified. Other countries also have greenwashing regulations but they are generally enforced by class action suits. The Canadian law may offer opportunities to legally challenge claims made about the environmental benefits of f-gases vs. natural refrigerants.

With less than 100g of propane, the unit provides up to 2.35kW of cooling capacity, with storage temperatures ranging from −20 to 70°C.
Sonia Saini

Laird Thermal Systems, a global manufacturer of thermal management solutions for the industrial, medical and telecommunications industries, has launched a plug-and-play propane (R290) chiller suitable for air freight applications.

The EFC2400 operates with either water or water/glycol coolants and offers a nominal cooling capacity of up to 2.35kW (0.67TR) at a fluid set point of 20°C (68°F) with a propane charge of less than 100g (3.5oz). The set storage temperature options range from −20 to 70°C (−4 to 158F°).

“The EFC product marks a milestone as our first standard product utilizing natural refrigerants,” Laird Thermal Systems said.

In addition to liquid cooling systems, Laird Thermal Systems manufactures temperature controllers, thermoelectric coolers and thermoelectric cooler assemblies. The company has more than 500 employees and operates manufacturing facilities and design centers in China, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany and the United States.

Specifications: According to the company, the EFC2400 offers application-specific configurations and maintains a fluid set point within 0.1°C (0.2°F) of the desired temperature.

  • The unit’s variable-speed compressor helps maintain a high COP during partial load operation and reduces system noise.
  • A semi-closed hydraulic system on the unit prevents evaporative loss and biological growth in the fluid.
  • The EFC2400 has “simplified” maintenance procedures and an alarm monitoring system, making it “ideal for cooling sensitive electronics.”
  • The unit comes in a plug-and-play, rolling container with dimensions of 497.5 x 529 x 742mm (19.6 x 20.8 x 29.2in).

Market applications: Applications for the EFC Chiller include transportation of analytical instrumentation, laser systems and semiconductors.

  • According to Laird Thermal Systems, the unit can operate anywhere with a universal input of 200–240V at 50/60Hz.

What it means for NatRefs: With its applicability to air freight, the unit continues to round out sustainable natural refrigerant options for shipping, with such choices already available for ground and marine transportation. With global f-gas regulations in various states of development, the unit provides a future-proof solution for air transport of temperature-sensitive items.

  • In April 2023, German transport refrigeration specialists ECOOLTEC began the European roll out of its propylene (R1270) electric refrigeration unit for trucks.
  • On the propane front, Austria-based pbx offers the ecos M24 refrigeration unit for electric light commercial vehicles.
  • Global Carrier Transicold offers its NaturalLINE refrigerated container using CO2 (R744) refrigerant for marine transport.
  • “As the EU moves to ban fluorinated refrigerants by 2027 under the F-gas Regulation, our product [EFC2400] aligns with this environmentally conscious shift,” Laird Thermal Systems said. “The unit is compliant with the foreseeable future of global refrigerant regulations.”

Quotable: “Compared to traditional hydrofluorocarbon chiller systems, the EFC Chiller delivers similar performance specifications with a near-zero global warming potential at a very economical price,” said Greg Ducharme, Product Director at Laird Thermal Systems.

“The EFC product marks a milestone as our first standard product utilizing natural refrigerants.”

Laird Thermal Systems

PAN Europe links TFA in drinking water to pesticides and f-gases, after a similar study of surface/groundwater, raising safety questions.
Sonia Saini

Following a similar analysis of surface water and groundwater, a new study from the European Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe has found trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), an atmospheric degradation product of HFO-1234yf and other f-gases, in 34 of 36 European tap-water samples from 11 EU countries and in 12 of 19 bottled mineral and spring waters.

The study raises questions about the safety of drinking water as TFA and other PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) continue to proliferate in the environment.

“The good news for now is that, in almost all samples, the TFA levels we found appear to be still within what is considered safe limits according to current knowledge,” said Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, an environmental chemist with GLOBAL 2000, which contributed to the PAN Europe study. “However, TFA inputs are increasing daily, and the safety buffer is already very small. Moreover, we are already unduly burdened by other PFAS. Measures to prevent further TFA contamination must therefore be taken immediately.”

A report based on the study, “TFA: The Forever Chemical in the Water We Drink,” was published on July 10 by PAN Europe, a Brussels-based NGO, and its partner organizations in 11 countries: Austria (Global 2000), Belgium (Nature & Progrès), Bulgaria (Via Pontica Foundation), Croatia (Earth Trek), France (Générations Futures), Germany (BUND and PAN Germany), Magyar Természetvédők Szövetsége (Hungary), Luxembourg (Mouvement Écologique), Netherlands (PAN Netherlands), Spain (Ecologistas en Acción) and Sweden (Swedish Society for Nature Preservation).

The organizations collected drinking water samples in their respective countries between April and June 2024, and the samples were analyzed by the Water Technology Centre in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The report called for an immediate ban on PFAS pesticides and f-gases – the two primary sources of TFA. It also asked for swift implementation by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) of the general PFAS restriction under the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, establishment of a safe drinking water limit for TFA at the EU level and setting quality standards for TFA for water regulated under the EU’s Water Framework Directive. In addition, the report urged that wherever it is necessary to purify water due to chemical contamination, “the polluter pays principle shall be applied.”

GLOBAL 2000 demands that the Austrian government investigate the potential health risks of TFA and monitor TFA in nature, water and food.

In the EU, TFA is considered an ultrashort-chain (two carbon) PFAS under the scientifically endorsed OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) definition. PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” for their durability in nature, encompass a broad class of more than 14,000 fluorinated chemicals used in numerous consumer products; some longer-chain PFAS, such as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), have been deemed toxic to human health.

Highest level in Austria

The TFA detected in the 34 tap-water samples ranged from “below the detection limit” (0.02mcg/L) to 4.1 mcg/L, with an average of 0.74mcg/L. The highest tap-water level was found in the Austrian state of Upper Austria. In the 12 bottled mineral/spring water samples (derived from 17 mineral and two spring water sources) in which TFA was found, concentrations were seen from below the detection limit to 3.2mcg/L, with an average of .278mcg/L. The report did not identify the producers of the bottled water, pending further tests during the summer.

Notably, the Netherlands has set a TFA drinking water limit of 2.2mcg/L (exceeded by only two of the 55 water samples tested), while the EU has proposed a Drinking Water Directive limit of 0.5mcg/L for total PFAS that will take effect in 2026.

“This PAN report is yet another indicating that more of us are drinking increasing amounts of TFA every day via drinking water, regardless of where our drinking water comes from,” said Hans Peter Arp, Environmental Chemist at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. “The TFA emitted to the environment now will persist for countless generations and will spread to our most pristine freshwater ecosystems and mineral water resources. This impact is irreversible as TFA is too widespread, and the costs of removing it too unfeasible.”

Tests for 24 other PFAS chemicals in the PAN Europe study revealed that TFA accounted for more than 98% of the total PFAS load across all drinking-water samples tested. The study links the TFA to the breakdown of pesticides in farming areas and the decomposition of f-gases. Certain f-gases that are emitted from HVAC&R systems into the atmosphere undergo photolytic conversion to TFA (100% conversion for HFO-1234yf over two weeks) and then enter the water cycle through rainfall all over the world.

“To safeguard these impacts from future generations, it is important to put more urgency on creating pathways to limit the major sources of TFA, such as f-gases and pesticides like flufenacet, diflufenican and fluazinam,” said Arp.

“If nothing is done here, I believe that this issue will soon overtake climate change,” says Philipp Baumgartner, Managing Director for Austrian refrigeration contractor Equans Kältetechnik in a LinkedIn post. With respect to refrigerants, he points out that there are “tried and tested” alternatives to f-gases, namely natural refrigerants CO2 (R744), ammonia (R717) and hydrocarbons.

The European Fluorocarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC), which represents chemical manufacturers, did not respond to a request for comment on the new PAN Europe study. On its website, f-gas producer Chemours said the proposed regulations in Europe to restrict f-gases and other PFAS substances under REACH “would have a devastating impact on jobs, supply chains, the economy, and the ability to achieve EU climate, strategic autonomy, and innovation objectives. Chemours supports and advocates for a coherent regulatory approach that allows for the use of safer, better performing chemistries in the EU.”

In May, PAN Europe released a study that found TFA in samples from 23 rivers and lakes (surface water) and six aquifers (groundwater) across Europe. The peak values in the new drinking water study are comparable to those found in the study of surface water, though the average of 0.74mcg/L in the former is lower than the average of 1.22mcg /L in the latter.

The May report pointed out that the amount of TFA in the environment has experienced a steady increase “that has been going largely unnoticed by the public for decades, but which has been predicted or described by scientific experts since the 1990s and has already materialized.” For example, in Germany, the measured TFA levels in rainwater have increased fourfold in two decades, according to a 2020 study.

The May report also said that TFA cannot be removed from water by filters (such as activated carbon) or ozonation; it can only be removed by reverse osmosis, an expensive technology that “requires more resources, leads to higher energy costs, and raises the unresolved issue of disposing of the resulting concentrates.”

Another NGO, BUND (German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation), recently published a study of drinking (tap) water and mineral water in German cities and Brussels, Belgium, finding several chemical pollutants, with TFA’s being the most frequently discovered chemical.

In the U.S., a panel of scientists recently discussed health concerns associated with TFA at the ATMOsphere America 2024 conference, organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

Risk assessments vary

The PAN Europe report noted that there are few studies on the environmental and health risks of TFA, despite its widespread presence in waters across the globe, adding, “risk assessments vary significantly due to differences in the way regulators deal with the scarce scientific knowledge,” and “underestimation of the risk cannot be excluded.”

The most noteworthy example of a health assessment of TFA comes from the German Federal Office for Chemicals (Bundesstelle für Chemikalien or BfC), which recently submitted to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) a proposal linking reproductive toxicity to TFA and its inorganic salts. This is one of the first efforts by a country to associate exposure to small quantities of TFA (concentrations of at least 0.1% to 0.3%, well above those found in the PAN Europe study) with harmful human health effects.

For its proposal, BfC relied on TFA study summaries from ECHA’s non-confidential registration dossiers, including one on rats’ reproductive performance/offspring development and general systemic toxicity and another on embryo-fetal developmental toxicity in rabbits. In the latter study, eye malformations in litters occurred in all three dose groups of rabbits administered TFA, reminiscent of the similar malformations in rats and humans associated with exposure to PFOA uncovered by American attorney Robert Bilott.

The PAN Europe report cited several assessments of tolerable levels of TFA:

  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2016: 50mcg/kg body weight per day.
  • German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in 2020: 12.5mcg/kg/day.
  • Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in 2023: 0.32mcg/kg/day. RIVM assumes that TFA has a comparable toxicological profile to other, better-studied PFAS.

The PAN Europe report also observed that there is currently no legal EU limit for TFA in surface water, groundwater or drinking water, though in 2026 the EU’s standard limit value for total PFAS of 0.5mcg/L in drinking water will come into force. However, when this value was proposed by the EU Commission, “it was not considered that existing TFA loads would exceed this limit,” the report said, adding that half of the tap water samples analyzed surpass 0.5mcg/L.

“From a legal perspective, TFA has so far been and remains an ‘invisible’ chemical,” said Sara Johansson, Senior Policy Officer for Water Pollution Prevention at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). “The lack of quality standards for groundwater or surface water and the absence of a TFA limit for drinking water have resulted in widespread chemical contamination to pass under the radar.”

However, with the update of water pollution standards regulated under the Water Framework Directive, this could change, added Johansson. “The European Institutions now have the opportunity to set the course for water protection – they owe this to their citizens. People have a right to healthy water.”

The chemical industry addressed the environmental deposition of TFA in an October 2021 study funded by the Global Forum for Advanced Climate Technologies (globalFACT), which represents f-gas producers Chemours, Honeywell, Arkema and Koura (and equipment manufacturer Daikin). The study concluded that “with the current knowledge of the effects of TFA on humans and ecosystems, the projected emissions through 2040 would not be detrimental.” But the study also acknowledged that “the major uncertainty in the knowledge of the TFA concentrations and their spatial distributions is due to uncertainties in the future projected emissions.”

This article was updated on July 12 to include comments from Chemours’ website.

“The TFA emitted to the environment now will persist for countless generations and will spread to our most pristine freshwater ecosystems and mineral water resources.”

Hans Peter Arp, Environmental Chemist at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

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