The market for propane and other hydrocarbon-based supermarket cabinets and display cases is growing exponentially, with several leading retailers adopting them in response to the EU’s F-Gas Regulation. At Equipmag today – held as part of Paris Retail Week – hydrocarbons21.com learned that Austrian manufacturer AHT alone has already installed 70,000 such R290 systems in France.
Taking place from 12-14 September 2016 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, ‘Equipmag’ boasts 1,000 companies specialising in equipment for offline and online retail, and 40,000 visitors.
AHT Cooling Systems’ vision is to “bring customers R290 worldwide,” said Guillaume Grolier, commercial director at the firm’s French arm. Every year they install another 8-11,000 hydrocarbon cabinets or cases in France, a number that Grolier believes will increase.
“We’re recording better energy efficiency results than with HFCs,” he said.
Their new Sydney model range of display cabinets comes in a range of sizes (from 1623mm 2502mm in length) and uses a 100g R290 system with RPM-regulated compressor.
At a side event at Equipmag, Grolier argued that hydrocarbons are the best solution for responding to the F-Gas Regulation, as they are “simple and flexible” for retailers who are already familiar with R404A plug n’ play systems.
Demand for higher R290 charge in Europe
Nelson Marques, assistant commercial director at Fricon, told hydrocabons21.com at Equipmag that most end users see flammability as “a non-issue”. They just want to adopt R290 as a solution to the HFC phase-down: “Europe knows what is going to happen in the next couple of years, and they are really seeing R290 as a solution,” Marques said.
Fricon makes cabinets with natural refrigerants R290 and R600a, containing Embraco and Danfoss compressors, for big companies like Unilever, Nestle, Danone and Picard. Marques reports customer demand for a higher R290 charge limit, because they want to use hydrocarbons for their large cabinets currently fitted with HFCs.
“We are hoping to change in October and November all our [HFC] systems to R290 at its upper limit," he said.
Fricon is reporting the biggest growth in hydrocarbons in Europe, but Walmart has installed some systems in the US this year. Marques “expects the American market to grow” for hydrocarbons. The technology is also proving popular in Brazil, he said.