Johnson Controls R290 Australia
Rickey Du at ARBS 2024 Expo.

Johnson Controls Ready to Supply Commercial R290 Chillers and Heat Pumps in Australia, Says Product and Tech Manager

The company offers 58 models in five different equipment lines, with its first chiller installation in the country set for July.

Johnson Controls is ready to supply its commercial propane (R290) chillers and heat pumps to the Australian market, according to Rickey Du, Product and Technology Manager of Industrial Refrigeration at Johnson Controls for Australia and New Zealand. 

 Du told NaturalRefrigerants.com in an exclusive interview at the Air-Conditioning, Refrigeration and Building Services (ARBS) 2024 Expo that Johnson Controls has a total of 58 models in five different series of its YAS R290 lineup now available in the Australian market, with capacities ranging from 30 to 400kW (8.5 to 114TR). The ARBS 2024 Expo was held May 28‒30 in Sydney. 

 “Walking around [the Expo], you see quite a few smaller-scale R290 products, which indicates that the market demand is coming,” Du said. “We, however, are ready to go, and we are Queensland certified.” 

 Last month, the company received a “first-of-its-kind” compliance certification from the Queensland Resources, Safety and Health (RSH) statutory board for its York-brand YAS R290 units. “Approvals granted through this process are recognized throughout Australia, New Zealand and in some cases, internationally,” Johnson Controls said. 

 In addition, Du said that the two roughly 300kW (85TR)-capacity R290 chillers used to obtain the Queensland certification will provide air-conditioning for a commercial shopping center in the state. The propane units will replace existing HFC chillers, with the installation and commissioning of the new units set for mid-July. 

 Johnson Controls, headquartered in Cork, Ireland, also produces ammonia (R717)-based compressors, chillers and heat pumps for commercial and industrial use from various sub-brands, including Frick, Hybrid Energy and Sabroe. Last year, the company acquired U.S.-based M&M Carnot to enter the North American commercial and industrial CO2 (R744) refrigeration market. 

 In his conversation with NaturalRefrigerants.com, Du outlined the Queensland certification process, the different Johnson Controls equipment available in the Australian market and current sales of ammonia equipment in the region. 

“We are ready to go, and we are Queensland certified.” 

Rickey Du, Product and Technology Manager of Industrial Refrigeration at Johnson Controls for Australia and New Zealand.

 The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

 What motivated Johnson Controls to bring R290 equipment to Australia? 

 Rickey Du: A year or two ago, while looking through our product portfolio, I saw we had R290 products available in the European market. Due to Australia’s carbon-neutral initiatives and sustainability goals, I saw the potential market demand for R290 equipment. To put ourselves in a better position to serve the market, I thought we should bring this product to Australia.

When a client approached me with a potential project for R290 chillers, we realized the location in Queensland presented a barrier with the state’s strict hydrocarbon requirements. We took the challenge and decided to get the certification. 

 Can you walk us through the Queensland certification process? What did it involve? 

 RD: It is a comprehensive process to ensure all standards are well met. An accredited third party comes to the factory to inspect and test the equipment. If they find something that does not meet the local standards, they allow you to fix it. For example, we had to replace several critical components compliant with European standards but not accepted in Australia. 

 Once the equipment passes the third-party inspection, they release a final report, which you submit with other engineering details to a certifier who makes the final decision. If you work with a third-party certifier, you will pass the certification. 

 Not every equipment model requires inspection and testing. Once your representative model passes the inspection and test, it applies to all your equipment, though you must guarantee that all models will use the same level of design and detail. 

 What R290 chillers and heat pumps are Johnson Controls making available in Australia? 

 RD: We have five different series lines, which include a standard chiller, producing 6 to 12°C (42.8 to 53.6°F) water for commercial building applications or −2°C (28.4°F) brine for other applications. We also have a water chiller that has an extra coil attached to the condenser to provide free cooling when the ambient air temperature is lower than the water return temperature. Then there is our low-temperature chiller, producing brine down to −14°C (6.8°F) for industrial food and beverage process cooling applications 

For heat pumps, we offer a reversible heat pump and a four-pipe multifunction unit, providing heating and cooling or simultaneous heating and cooling. 

 What type of ammonia equipment is Johnson Controls selling in Australia? 

 RD: We have been promoting ammonia heat pumps over the last few years, and that side of the business is going very strong. In the past two years, we have sold 12 heat pumps in the New Zealand market for food processing applications with temperature outputs varying from 65 to 90°C (149 to 194°F).

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