The adoption of transcritical CO2 as a refrigerant technology for air conditioning systems is currently undergoing a rapid increase. The success of this gas can be attributed to several factors, which have convinced more and more people to choose that solution over the usual options.
According to recent forecasts, many countries are moving towards choosing systems which use that gas, because of the enormous advantages it offers. While retail is the sector where it is most widespread, the use of CO2 is starting to expand into other industrial and commercial sectors too.
Transcritical CO2 growth data
An interesting article (published by Zerosttozero and accessible via this link), analyses the data reported in the Shecco guide. It compares data relating to the increase in the use of transcritical CO2 between the years 2008 and 2020, with a more detailed examination of its expansion into different sectors and geographical areas.
In the early years, transcritical CO2 based refrigerant was only present in Europe with just 140 systems, all in the private sector. Today however, there are 35,000 systems that use this technology around the world, with applications in the industrial sector too.
Below are some of the key points, taken from the Shecco guide:
- Retail remains the sector in which transcritical CO2 has its greatest application;
- Europe counts over 29,000 systems installed, of which 90% are in large supermarkets, 5% in small local shops and 5% in industrial plants;
- In the USA, which began the switch to transcritical technology later than Europe, a total of 650 systems have been reported: 93% in supermarkets and 7% on industrial sites;
- In Canada there are 350 installations which are mainly concentrated at ice rinks and data centres;
- According to the latest figures, Japan possesses around 5000 transcritical systems. Of these, 80% are in smaller supermarkets;
If we take a closer look at the period from 2018 to 2020, we can observe how the expansion of CO2 refrigerant technology has made enormous strides. The number of installations in Europe has risen by 81%, in the USA by 76%, in Japan by 42% and in Australia by 375%.
The future of transcritical CO2 systems
The rapid growth of refrigerant technology based on transcritical CO2 has led many experts to point to that gas as the future of refrigeration. In any case, its low GWP (Global Warming Potential) is only one of the characteristics behind its success.
As well as its ‘green’ features (a very important aspect in recent years), its other key attribute lies in the financial savings it can bring. Considering that CO2 ensures significant savings in the long term, it has met with much approval in the private sector.
Among the main advantages it offers is its optimal energy efficiency, considerably reduced system maintenance costs, ease of installation and great reliability. In addition, transcritical CO2 is also less dangerous compared to other types of refrigerant, many of which can be flammable and therefore require special safety systems.
Thanks to these features, it is possible to avoid a series of issues, linked to legislative restrictions or the banning of certain gases (as happened in the past and continues to happen now).
The positive trend of transcritical CO2 seems destined to continue in the future, as it spreads to the industrial and commercial sectors, which are currently dominated by the use of solutions which offer an inferior performance.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith