ATMOsphere America shatters attendance records
USA – The 5th annual ATMOsphere America 2016 took place over the 16th and 17th of June at the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The conference assembled more than 340 experts from over 140 companies and organisations with the aim of discussing the latest policy, market and technology trends affecting the natural refrigerant sector in North America.
The CEO of shecco, Marc Chasserot, revealed his delight at the strong turnout at the event, saying “This year’s conference is unique in many ways, with its record-breaking number of end users and participants, and representations by many different industries including retailers, food processing, cold stores and warehouses, ice-skating rinks and data centres. shecco is once more proud to have hosted the leading and the most successful conference on natural refrigerants in North America, with the best networking, knowledge gathering and sharing opportunities.”
This year’s event saw a record number of participants attend with U.S. retailers were particularly strongly represented at the conference, which strove to shed light on the latest trends in commercial and industrial refrigeration over the course of 90 different presentations. In addition to focusing on recent innovations in the field of natural refrigerant technology, the two-day event also afforded attendees the chance to avail of unparalleled networking and explored untapped business opportunities and future perspectives for the HVAC&R industry.
Key note discussions included the rise in the use of natural refrigerants in the United States as regulatory developments and environmentally conscious end users drive their wider uptake, while commercial refrigeration was also at the heart of discussions. In addition to these two principal topics, a wide variety of other sectors were also covered, including hydrocarbons for America, light commercial refrigeration and industrial refrigeration.
The conference also featured the first-ever Accelerate America Award winners for companies and people who are accelerating the marketplace for natural refrigerants. Winners of the inaugural award scheme included Sobeys in the food retail category, Red Bull for the foodservice industry, Campbell Soup in the Industrial Refrigeration section and True Manufacturing who won the Innovation of the year award. Marc-André Lesmerises, the CEO of Carnot Refrigeration, was the principal individual award winner as he landed the person of the year award.
Michael Garry, the editor of Accelerate America magazine, published by shecco, explained that the underlying concept of the Accelerate America awards is “to call attention to companies and people who have done the most to bring down barriers and move natural refrigerant technology forward in North America.”
The consensus arising from this year’s conference was that the competition between CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia is creating exciting new opportunities and driving increased uptake of natural refrigerant-based technologies in the United States. Indeed, the industry leaders present at the conference predicted that in future the boundaries between technologies designed for the commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors will dissipate.
It was also noted that ammonia is currently undergoing a period of growth in the United States, with Carnot refrigeration experiencing great success with CO2-ammonia systems for industrial refrigeration, while their latest project is a large-scale installation in a food production and distribution centre. Michael Lehtinen from Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration identified low-charge ammonia and transcritical CO2 as being the “big trends” for the coming years, forecasting that the uptake of natural refrigerant technologies will only increase as more technicians are trained in installing, operating and maintaining them. Bitzer’s Joe Sanchez also stated his belief that these were the coming trends, revealing that the company had recorded a 60% increase in the number of ammonia compressors sold in the United States in the last two years.
Other experts stated that,propane may also be on the brink of large-scale US expansion, with Marek Zgliczynski of Embraco expecting the impressive efficiency of hydrocarbon systems to trigger their wider rollout, with the company predicting a 20% increase in hydrocarbon technology sales this year. Mr Zgliczynski did however note that there were significant barriers to increased uptake of hydrocarbons in the US, such as an excessively low charge limit and a lack of trained technicians.
Having previously confirmed that carbon dioxide would be its standard refrigerant for new beverage coolers, vending machines and fountain equipment, Antoine Azar, the global program director for the Coca-Cola Company, announced at ATMOsphere America that the company “will open the door” to hydrocarbon refrigerants for smaller cooler equipment. Similarly, the beverage giant Red Bull is continuing to blaze a trail for the increased uptake of hydrocarbons across the United States, with the company having already introduced over 200,000 hydrocarbon coolers to the US marketplace. Since every new Red Bull cooler uses hydrocarbons, company representative Richard Reeves predicts that this number is actually set to double within two years.