ARBS 2024 in Sydney
ARBS 2024 in Sydney. Photo credit: ARBS.

Natural Refrigerants in Australia: Highlights From ARBS 2024 in Sydney

From propane chillers and heat pumps to ammonia and CO2 refrigeration systems, natural refrigerants are gaining ground down under.

Held every two years in Australia, the ARBS (Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Building Services) trade show offers perhaps the best window into the state of natural refrigerants down under. ARBS 2024 was in Sydney from May 28–30, and according to the show more than 9,000 visitors were in attendance to see new HVAC&R technology from more than 350 exhibitors.

ATMOsphere COO and Co-Founder Jan Dusek was one of the attendees, and over three days he compiled a list of highlights at the show. ATMOsphere is the publisher of NaturalRefrigerants.com.

Below are a few of Dusek’s insights into the state of natural refrigerants in Australia.

Propane highlights

A handful of manufacturers were touting new propane (R290) chillers and heat pumps, with several bringing units to the show and discussing their application in commercial HVAC systems. One of those OEMs, Johnson Controls, recently received a compliance certification from the state of Queensland for its R290 heat pumps and chillers.

Residential R290 heat pumps and hot water heaters were also on full display. Dusek said that, based on conversations he had at the show, the expectation is for the market to be split between R32 and R290, with propane having the edge.

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

CO2 highlights

Transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems continue to grow in popularity in Australia as end users such as Woolworths increase their adoption of the technology. In April, the supermarket chain celebrated the opening of its 100th store equipped with a transcritical CO2 system. 

Outside of food retail, Dusek also observed that the market for CO2 heat pumps continues to grow with “hundreds” of units on the market. Back in 2022, Jonathen Hindry, owner of the South Australia-based contractor Adelaide Heat Pumps, told NaturalRefrigerants.com his company was installing between 150–200 CO2 heat pump water heaters per year.

Ammonia highlights

Ammonia continues to hold a strong position in the industrial sector, both in terms of installations and local manufacturing. Dusek spoke with Stefan Jensen, Managing Director of Scantec Refrigeration Technologies, prior to the show and was told Scantec had a “full order book” through 2025 for its low-charge ammonia refrigeration systems.

Greg Clements, Head of Sales – Compression, at GEA in Australia confirmed the popularity of low-charge ammonia systems to Dusek in an interview. “Low-charge ammonia systems are becoming more mainstream,” he said, noting that industrial refrigeration in Australia boomed during the pandemic.

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