Alberto Pasqualetti, SCM Frigo, presenting on transcritical CO2 installations at ATMO LATAM Summit 2023.
Alberto Pasqualetti, SCM Frigo, at ATMO LATAM Summit 2023

ATMO LATAM: Transcritical CO2 Is Up to 33% More Efficient Than R404A Systems in Latin America, Says SCM Frigo

Based on five commercial and industrial refrigeration projects across Latin America (LATAM), Italian manufacturer SCM Frigo has found that its transcritical CO2 (R744) systems are 5–33% more efficient than similar R404A solutions.

The level of efficiency achieved depends predominantly on the local climate as well as system complexity and the additional technologies deployed, explained Alberto Pasqualetti, Area Manager at SCM Frigo.

In addition to superior efficiency, CO2 also offers end users a sustainable, safe and natural alternative, he added.

Pasqualetti shared details of the projects during his presentation at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) LATAM Summit 2023, which was hosted by ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com, in November in Mexico City.

The largest improvement in COP (33%) was seen at a distribution center in Bogotá, Colombia, where a 1.44MW (409.5TR) transcritical CO2 booster system with parallel compression was installed in 2021. The system consists of two racks that provide 390kW (110.9TR) in low-temperature (LT) and 590kW (167.8TR) in medium-temperature (MT) capacity, as well as 460kW (130.8TR) capacity for air-conditioning at nearby apartments.

According to Pasqualetti, transcritical CO2 works particularly efficiently in climates like Bogotá’s. The Colombian capital sits well above sea level at 2,500m (8,200ft) and averages temperatures from 19 to 20°C (66 to 68°F) year around.

In Santiago, Chile, a 1.14MW (324.2TR) pure LT booster system with a vapor ejector, adiabatic cooler and satellite compressors was installed at an automated logistics warehouse in 2022. The system’s two racks provide 876kW (249.1TR) in LT and 268kW (76.2TR) in MT capacity and offer a 23% improvement in COP compared to a similar R404A system. Details of this installation were presented by Mirko Bernabei, Technical Director and R&D Manager at SCM Frigo, and Pier Zecchetto, CEO of Chilean system installer Pórtan, at the ATMO America Summit in June 2023.

SCM Frigo provided a transcritical CO2 booster system with an adiabatic cooler and liquid ejector to a cash and carry hypermarket in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2022. The system consisted of two racks that provided a total of 420kW (119.4TR) of cooling capacity – 134kW (38.1TR) for LT and 286kW (81.3TR) for MT – and achieved a COP that was 10% higher than an alternative R404A system.

Island installations

The manufacturer saw a 12% improvement in COP at a supermarket in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic where temperatures are typically 24–35°C (75–95°F) year around. The store’s 173kW (49.2TR) transcritical CO2 booster rack with a low-pressure ejector was installed in 2023 and provides 35kW (10TR) in LT and 138kW (39.2TR) in MT.

On Easter Island the only supermarket installed a single-rack transcritical CO2 booster system in 2022 that provides 13kW (3.7TR) in LT capacity and 25kW (7.1TR) in MT capacity. Compared to a similar R404A system, transcritical CO2 offered a 5% higher COP, noted Pasqualetti.

SCM Frigo has reported similar efficiency savings outside of the LATAM region. In northern Italy, for example, a cold storage facility has seen 19% lower energy costs with its transcritical CO2 refrigeration system compared to its still-used R404A system.

Globally, SCM Frigo has produced more than 10,000 transcritical CO2 booster systems and more than 1,300 pure LT CO2 systems, according to Pasqualetti.

The company has also manufactured hundreds of efficiency-enhancing technologies, including more than 800 parallel compressors, more than 200 adiabatic coolers and more than 250 ejectors of various types, he added.

“These technologies are used widely and are becoming more common,” he said.

“These technologies are used widely and are becoming more common.”

Alberto Pasqualetti, SCM Frigo

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