2016 food retail trends: CO2, heat reclaim and new technologies

The quest for new, green refrigerants is on. Amidst alternatives, CO2 is emerging as the most efficient, safe and clean refrigerant preferred by a growing number of global, regional and local retailers. 2016 will see a rapid increase in the number of CO2 systems and new technologies to make the climate-friendly refrigerant an attractive solution.

The last couple of years have seen difficulties for decision-makers in food retail to make a final choice when it comes to refrigerants and system type. Many refrigerant options and system configurations have been battling to receive attention.

Supermarket refrigeration has been in the environmental spotlight and it has been revealed how leakage of HFCs in centralized systems is a major challenge. At the same time, energy efficiency has gained top priority in order to save costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

From this disarray, CO2 is emerging as one of the most efficient, safe and clean refrigerants for food retail.

In 2015 alone, leading producer of cooling components Danfoss has seen an increase of more than 20 per cent in the installed base of trans-critical CO2 systems in supermarkets compared to the year before. Driven by the F-gas regulation in Europe and the SNAP regulation in the US, the installation of CO2 systems is expected to accelerate in 2016 and 2017 led by major, global retailers.

The market is ready for this huge transformation in food retail refrigeration and the required technical solutions are in place. For the last 15 years, Danfoss and other refrigeration specialist have pioneered technologies for trans-critical refrigeration, and today a complete and well-tested product portfolio is available for climate-friendly and energy efficient solutions.

Heat reclaim is trending in food retail refrigeration

2016 will see a continued growing interest in trans-critical CO2 systems with heat reclaim. The smart solution is fast becoming standard, and 20 years from now, people will look back and wonder at the huge amounts of surplus heat that is today wasted from the cooling systems of supermarkets.

The impressive amount of trans-critical solutions with heat reclaim installed by now – mostly in colder climates - we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. The installations have all confirmed that the refrigeration system can provide ample heat to fulfil demands for heating and hot water, eliminating the need for separate heating installations in the supermarket.

The heat reclaim solutions have returned energy savings of 20 % or more and pay-back times of less than two and a half years.

Looking further ahead, supermarkets will not only cover their own heating demand by heat reclaim. They will move from energy consumers to energy suppliers by offering the surplus heat to the local district energy grid. The obvious advantages are new revenue streams and reduced carbon footprint of the supermarkets.

New technologies pave the way for CO2 refrigeration in warm climates

Global retailers prefer global refrigeration solutions. From a phenomenon of colder climates, CO2 refrigeration is progressing to warmer climates, and 2016 is likely to see a break-through in trans-critical solutions for sub-tropical and even tropical climates. New technologies are rapidly emerging as highly energy efficient solutions that help retailers reduce complexity and meet current and future regulation on traditional refrigerants in all climates.

One of the most promising new technologies is the ejector, devised by Danfoss in close cooperation with refrigeration specialists from SINTEF. Ejector increases the energy efficiency of parallel compression significantly and enhances the viability of trans-critical refrigeration in warm climates.

Ejector is still in the prototype stage, but the initial trial set-ups in 10 supermarkets have shown that the simple ejector technology can increase the efficiency of the parallel compression system significantly. Furthermore, ejectors allows smaller and more compact compressor packs to be installed in the first place.

2016 – a year of CO2 capacity building

As retailers increasingly invest in trans-critical solutions and the industry continues to introduce more equipment using CO2 as refrigerant, the need for capacity building to work with the gas is growing.

To meet the demand for capacity building, Danfoss is investing in new and upgrading of existing application development centers in Europe, USA and Asia. The technology centers will help retailers and contractors prepare for the transition ahead to meet low-GWP refrigerant targets and higher energy efficiency levels and to speed up the development of next-generation food retail applications.

In order to meet the demand for CO2 capacity building, Danfoss offers a suite of e-learning modules that provide basic and advanced training in design, operation and maintenance of CO2 refrigeration solutions. For more in-depth and hands-on training, Danfoss offers a two-day training program on CO2 in cooperation with KHLim in Belgium. The program provides basic knowledge on CO2 as refrigerant and system set-up of cascade and booster systems.

To provide a brief introduction to the opportunities in CO2 refrigeration, Danfoss has prepared a series of papers with specific focus on:


  • The impact of new regulation, e.g. F-gas and SNAP, on CO2 refrigeration (click here)
  • Trans-critical solutions with heat reclaim (click here)
  • Trans-critical solutions for warm climates (click here)
  • Danfoss delivers CO2 valve no. 10,000 to South African supermarket (click here)

Danfoss leads the development of solutions and components for CO2 refrigeration and offers a wide range of products specifically designed for CO2 trans-critical systems. Furthermore, Danfoss provides training, design tools and consulting services to promote the use of CO2 and to support the development of forward thinking solutions in all parts of the value chain.

For more information:
Neshalany Nair, Marketing Communications Driver - ASEAN, Danfoss Cooling, nesha.nair@danfoss.com

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