ATMO Awards

Vote for the ATMO/North America Innovation and Person of the Year!

The innovation short list features products from Hillphoenix, Copeland, Dorin and Evapco; the person shortlist includes individuals from EIA, NASRC, Hillphoenix and Evapco.

ATMOsphere, publisher of, has launched the voting process for the ATMO 2024 Innovation of the Year and Person of the Year awards for North America.

Voting will take place online from through June 9 and in-person on June 10 in Washington, D.C., at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2024 on natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R. The winners will be announced at the conference during the ATMO Awards/North America ceremony beginning at 4:45 pm EDT on June 10. Other ATMO awards will include Best-in-Sector/Retail End User and Best-in-Sector/Industrial End User.

The Innovation of the Year award is given to the company that has produced a natural refrigerant-based product that has had, or is expected to have, a significant impact on the market.

The shortlist of candidates for the Innovation of the Year award consists of Hillphoenix’s ChargeSecure system, Copeland’s Vilter-branded industrial CO2 (R744) compressor unit that uses single-screw compressors, Dorin’s 160HP CO2 industrial reciprocating compressor and Evapco’s VersaSplit ammonia (R717)-based condensing unit with up to six remote evaporators.

The Person of the Year Award honors a single individual who has done the most to advance the adoption of natural refrigerant technology in HVAC&R applications in North America.

The shortlist of candidates for the Person of the Year award includes Danielle Wright, Executive Director for North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC); Scott Martin, Senior Director of Industry Relations and Compliance for Hillphoenix; Kurt Liebendorfer, Vice President of Evapco; and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) U.S. team of Avipsa Mahapatra, Director, Climate Campaign; Christina Starr, Senior Manager, Climate; and Beth Porter, Senior Climate Policy Analyst.

Vote for one of these products and people – described in more detail below – here. Shortlisted companies may vote for their own products and/or employees, but only one vote per shortlisted company will be counted for each category.

This 13th annual edition of ATMO America will be held Monday, June 10, and Tuesday, June 11, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Attending will be key industry experts, including manufacturers, policymakers, end users and contractors to learn about the latest developments in natural refrigerant-based systems.

You can now register for the event here. End users can register for free, and contractors/installers of HVAC&R systems are eligible to receive one free ticket per organization, with a 50% discount on additional tickets. The full program can be viewed here.

Innovation of the Year Candidates

Hillphoenix: ChargeSecure

This summer Hillphoenix will release the ChargeSecure system to help address CO2 charge preservation in transcritical CO2 refrigeration. Powered by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery backup or emergency power, this device will prevent pressure buildup by maintaining a CO2 circuit from the flash gas receiver to a compressor and the gas cooler.

The benefit for end users is their CO2 system can maintain its charge during a power outage or service event, including the normal restart of the system and its operating capabilities.

ChargeSecure is designed to be seamlessly integrated into a transcritical CO2 refrigeration system of any size. It is a 100%-natural solution because it uses CO2 from the rack.

Copeland: Vilter Industrial CO2 Single-Screw Compressor Unit

In April, Copeland announced the production of its first Vilter-branded industrial CO2 compressor unit, which uses single-screw compressors for large transcritical applications, subcritical applications or both. The unit also includes oil-management technology and a motor and controller.

The large-capacity CO2 screw compressors are designed to reduce the complexity of industrial refrigeration; in applications that require 500TR (1,758.4kW) and above, two to four screw compressor systems can replace two to three racks of reciprocating compressors. The CO2 systems are designed for cold storage, food and beverage, recreation, utility and power, pharmaceutical, chemical, petrochemical and industrial processing, and heat pumps. Last year, Canadian utility Hydro-Québec won the Best-in-Sector/Industrial award at the ATMOsphere America conference for installing a water-to-water CO2-based heat pump using the Vilter transcritical CO2 screw compressor.

The transcritical CO2 single-screw compressor offers capacities from 167 to 366TR (587.3 to 1,287.2kW) for medium temperature at 20°F SST/85°F gas cooler (−6.7°C SST/29.4°C gas cooler) temperature. The subcritical unit delivers capacities from 150 to 845TR (527.5 to 2,971.7kW) for low temperature at −20°F SST/20°F SCT (−28.9°C SST/−6.7°C SCT) and capacities from 93 to 485TR (327.1 to 1,705.7kW) for ultra-low temperature at −40°F SST/20°F SCT (−40°C SST/−6.7°C SCT).

Dorin: 160HP CO2 industrial compressor

 Part of its CD600 range, Dorin’s 160HP CO2 industrial reciprocating compressor comes with six cylinders and offers 4,237ft3/h (120m3/h) at 60Hz and a capacity of 68.3TR (240kW) for typical medium-temperature applications, with frequency drive capability. Previous models covered up to 90HP and 2,506ft3/h (70m3/h) at 60Hz.

The compressor maintains the same footprint as smaller models with a higher COP and is a cost-effective way to scale up the refrigeration duty with a single rack and no modifications to the rack design.

With its CD600 range of compressors, Dorin “sets a new benchmark for industrial [transcritical CO2] applications, allowing [R744] to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient solutions when it comes to large [capacities],” the company said.

 Evapco: VersaSplit Low-Charge Ammonia Mega-Split System

Following 10 years of R&D, Evapco in the fall of 2023 launched VersaSplit, its first ammonia-based condensing unit with up to six remote DX evaporators operating at different temperatures. VersaSplit is conceptually like the very common split system f-gas packages that have dominated the market for years, except that it uses ammonia, is three to four times larger and can be field-piped to more evaporators.

With up to 165TR (580kW) refrigeration capacity, VersaSplit doubles the capacity of Evapco’s roof-mounted Penthouse 70TR (246kW) refrigeration unit, which encompasses the evaporator. With the split system, the low side is separated to feed evaporators at a distance, while the low-charge ammonia resides in the packaged mechanical room set on the ground or the roof.

The VersaSplit provides capacities of up to 130TR (457kW) for −10°F (−23.3°C) freezers and 165TR for 35°F (1.7°C) coolers or docks. The ammonia charge averages 4 to 6lbs/TR (0.51 to 0.77kg/kW).

Person of the Year Candidates

EIA U.S. team of Avipsa Mahapatra, Christina Starr and Beth Porter

The U.S. branch of the EIA – led by the Mahapatra, Starr and Porter – has helped to influence the transition away from f-gases toward natural refrigerants in the North American cooling and heating industry over the past several years through its investigative and advocacy work.

EIA U.S.’s work in the supermarket industry has been particularly notable. For example, the NGO has ranked 16 major U.S. supermarket chains on their progress in reducing HFCs via its Climate-Friendly Supermarket Scorecard. It has also developed a map of HFC-free supermarkets in the U.S. based on public, industry-provided and crowd-sourced data.  EIA U.S. investigated dozens of supermarkets in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland using portable refrigerant leak detectors and found most stores to be leaking HFC refrigerants.

EIA U.S. has also conducted important investigations of the chemical industry. For example, it exposed that the National Hockey League (NHL) agreed to accept millions of dollars from Chemours to promote their its f-gas refrigerants as environmentally sustainable under the NHL Green program in ice rinks and beyond. It also revealed that a variety of climate-warming and ozone-depleting f-gases were being emitted from two production facilities operated by Honeywell and Chemours in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Corpus Christi, Texas, respectively.

Danielle Wright of NASRC

Wright leads the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a nonprofit that helps the supermarket industry in North America overcome the barriers to the adoption of natural refrigerant-based refrigeration systems. Since becoming Executive Director of the NASRC in 2017, Wright has worked to expand the group’s membership, scope and impact considerably. Its members now include over 160 organizations from every sector of the commercial refrigeration industry, including more than 55,000 food retail locations.

Among the NASRC’s activities are:

  • Coordinating funding to offset the upfront costs of natural refrigerant technologies: NASRC has become 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. NASRC also works with New York State on its grant program to replace HFC refrigeration.
  • Training: NASRC has launched a successful Technician Training Program on the latest natural refrigerant technologies for refrigeration technicians with a series of training events in three states. More than 1,600 people have attended the events, with over 900 technicians and more than 370 HVAC&R students and faculty. The organization also now offers private small-group, vendor-neutral courses.

NASRC also advises government agencies on policy and technical applications and contributes to industry best practices, standard and codes.

Scott Martin of Hillphoenix

U.S. manufacturer Hillphoenix is the leading supplier of transcritical CO2 systems in North America, with over 1,500 installed in supermarket and industrial locations. Since joining Hillphoenix in 1995, Martin has been one of the primary voices supporting the adoption of the company’s CO2-based systems, starting with CO2 as a secondary fluid and cascade systems and then all-CO2 transcritical systems.

Martin has helped Hillphoenix to win the Store Certification Excellence award, given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) GreenChill program, for 12 consecutive years as of 2023. The award recognizes Hillphoenix as the refrigeration systems manufacturer in the most GreenChill-certified stores in the past year, many of them using natural refrigerant-based refrigeration systems. Inclusive of the 2022–2023 cycle, Hillphoenix systems were installed in over 80% of GreenChill-certified Stores. In 2007, Hillphoenix, with Martin as a liaison, became a founding member of GreenChill, which has helped advance natural refrigeration and leak prevention in the U.S. supermarket industry.

Martin has been a frequent speaker at all industry events and participant in industry committees. He has spoken and written about CO2 systems, most recently debunking the myths around CO2 refrigeration, and is a reliable source of information for media outlets.

Kurt Liebendorfer of Evapco

Liebendorfer has been a leading force behind Evapco’s development and deployment of its low-charge ammonia packaged systems since joining the company in 2014. After introducing its Evapcold low-charge ammonia packaged units in 2016, Evapco by 2022 had installed 100 of the units across 25 industrial sites, with each site using between 1 and 10 units, including penthouse refrigeration and chillers. Since then, the company has installed many more ammonia packages, including its latest VersaSplit system with separate evaporators, helping to establish low-charge ammonia packaged systems as a major option in industrial refrigeration in North America.

In 2022 Evapco acquired Canadian-based transcritical CO2 manufacturer Systèmes LMP to form subsidiary Evapco Systems LMP (Evapco LMP for short), and Liebendorfer is now involved in the sales of CO2 as well as ammonia systems.

In 2018, Liebendorfer was vice-chairman of the IIAR committee overseeing the launch of Ammonia Refrigeration Management – Low Charge (ARM-LC) guidelines, designed to help end users safely install, operate and maintain ammonia refrigeration systems that use a charge of 500lbs (227kg) or less.

Liebendorfer is a frequent speaker at industry events and a reliable source of information for media outlets. He recently narrated a video touting the environmental, social and governance (ESG) benefits of packaged low-charge ammonia units. He is on the board of director of IIAR and CEBA, was a past board member of the International District Energy Association and is past president of ASHRAE’s Jacksonville Chapter.

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