Edinburgh - On occasion of the 12th Gustav Lorentzen Working Fluids Conference (August 21st to 24th 2016), the Green Cooling Initiative (GCI) held a workshop on technical barriers to the implementation of natural refrigerants (NR) in developing countries. Several projects and activities were described, covering widespread application of R290 in residential and commercial ACs, HC in commercial refrigeration and R290 in large cold rooms.
The GIZ and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as co-host of the event shared their experiences in supporting the developing countries, in particular the technical challenges encountered. In essence, four main categories of barriers were materialized: lacking service infrastructure, advanced understanding of special design requirements, restrictions in existing (or non-national) safety standards and incomplete foundation in general refrigeration engineering. It was acknowledged that many of the exemplified barriers could potentially be resolved through capacity building.
These were the outcomes with regards to the categories of barriers:
- Infrastructure There is an insufficiency in high quality training/trained technicians (e.g., on HC) and often a fear of technicians to “accept” and tolerate flammability. Further, local availability of appropriate tools and equipment turn out to be problem. Additionally in some regions/sectors the “turnover” of technicians happens to be quite high. Consequently, training offers in areas where new technologies (e.g. HC) have not yet been widespread tend to be of limited impact. The technician training therefore needs to be more focused and set up in conjunction with the formalization of national service sectors, e.g., through certification systems and the likes.
- Special design and requirements It was remarked by several participants that there was poor reliance of external/international experts or experts from different sectors (e.g., for flammability safety). Reason being the yielded high cost, slow reaction time and other frustrations associated with dependence upon external sources. Possibly a local “expert centers” could be established.
- Safety standards Obstructive requirements in international standards impose stringent rules thus limiting product range, excessive design cost, etc. Whereas the absence of national standards potentially constrict any further development. Thus improved international standards and model requirements for adoption nationally would be useful.
- Incomplete foundation It was noted that there can be a substantial lack of fundamental refrigeration technical knowledge (irrespective of what type of refrigerants are being used). In this case it can result in errors, misdirection, faults, etc., that may ordinarily be tolerated with conventional refrigerants but when applied with NRs either results in a more detrimental problem or become showcases as negative examples. Again, this has to be remedied through actions such as improved academic/engineering type courses.