Refra’s CO2 Light system is designed for convenience stores and gas stations with a cooling capacity of up to 53kW. (Source: Refra)
Refra’s CO2 Light system is designed for convenience stores and gas stations with a cooling capacity of up to 53kW. (Source: Refra)

Refra Launches Standard Transcritical CO2 Rack for Small-Format Stores

The Lithuanian HVAC&R manufacturer’s CO2 Light system offers up to 53kW in cooling capacity for small supermarkets and convenience stores.

Lithuanian HVAC&R manufacturer Refra has launched a standard transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration system for small supermarkets and convenience stores with a cooling demand of up to 53kW (15.1TR).

The CO2 Light was first created in 2021 but has since undergone further testing and development to become a standard product with guaranteed performance parameters, according to the manufacturer. By standardizing the unit, Refra hope to reduce delivery time.

“The CO2 Light product is aimed at small shops and was developed specifically for one of our customers who needed a refrigeration unit to serve a small-format store,” explained Ilona Pavšukova, Refra’s Marketing Manager. “The main requirements were compactness and price. For these reasons, we created a vertical frame and produced a unit with adequate power parameters at an affordable price.”

To date, Refra has sold more than 50 of its CO2 Light racks.

Customizable options

According to the CO2 Light brochure, the rack comes in five basic models, ranging from 14kW (4TR) to 53kW at an ambient temperature of 35°C (95°F) and an evaporating temperature of -10°C (14°F) for medium temperature (MT) and -30°C (-22°F) for low temperature (LT).

Refra’s CO2 transcritical rack for MT includes two compressors, while its transcritical CO2 booster system features two MT compressors and one LT compressor. The compressors are assembled on a welded and powder coated frame, which is made in house. It includes “reliable insulation material to ensure proper unit protection and noise reduction,” said the manufacturer.

Standard units can then be customized with additional features, including a heat recovery module, specialty controllers and a gas cooler.

Customers can also choose between an open or closed frame for the CO2 Light rack.

“The open type frame construction is designed to house the system indoors,” Refra explains on its website. “It is a conveniently assembled refrigeration unit that can be easily brought in and installed inside the premises. If there is no room for the refrigeration system indoors, the CO2 Light model can be made with a special protective frame, which allows you to install the equipment outdoors and connect it to the premises.”

Doors on both the front and side of the closed unit allow for easy servicing, the manufacturer adds.

CO2 vs. f-gases

“Compared to HFCs and HCFCs, CO2 refrigerant is a better choice for supermarkets for many reasons,” said Pavšukova. “[R744] has excellent thermodynamic properties that make it highly energy efficient, which means it requires less energy to achieve the same cooling effect [and] can lead to lower energy consumption and operating costs in some CO2 systems.”

“Compared to HFCs and HCFCs, CO2 refrigerant is a better choice for supermarkets for many reasons.”

Ilona Pavšukova, Refra

CO2-based refrigeration systems can also recover waste heat for space heating or generating hot water, which can enhance overall system efficiency even further.

As a refrigerant, CO2 is low-GWP (one) and non-toxic, removing any concerns around environmental regulation, she added.

“[R744] aligns with the goals of international agreements like the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which aims to reduce the use of HFCs,” she said.

It is also readily available and inexpensive, making it cost-effective, she noted.

NatRef expertise

Refra has been manufacturing CO2-based systems since 2011 and has tripled its production area for these systems over the last few years, according to Pavšukova.

In addition to R744, Refra also produces propane (R290)-based HVAC&R equipment like chillers and heat pumps, which currently make up the largest portion of its production.

“We were one of the very first companies who predicted the rise of propane and started producing them very early on,” she said.

Overall, 80% of its production is “green,” she added.

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