Eurammon Forum Highlights the Status of Natural Refrigerants


The Natural Refrigerants Forum organized by Eurammon on Wednesday, October 15 at the Chillventa fair in Nuremburg, Germany provided an intriguing survey of the factors, both positive and negative, influencing the use of ammonia and other natural refrigerants around the world. Besides IIAR president Dave Rule’s presentation on the status of the industry in the US, the remaining speakers focused on a vast and strategic region located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia; from Turkey and Egypt at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea to the sprawling Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia.


Yuri Dubodelov of Sakada Engineering covered the situation of natural refrigerants in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan –the world’s largest landlocked country spanning from Eastern Europe to Eastern Asia– bordering China, Russia, the Caspian Sea and other former Soviet Central Asian Republics to the south. During its days as a Soviet Republic, much of Kazakhstan’s food industry consisted of large state-owned processors using ammonia refrigeration systems. When the Soviet Union broke up, the privatization of state-owned food and refrigeration companies and market conditions for the newly privatized companies almost led to the total collapse of the ammonia refrigeration industry.

During the reconstruction stage that followed, many ammonia systems were replaced by easier-to-use Freon systems. This trend away from ammonia was encouraged by the lack of qualified refrigeration specialists in Kazakhstan. Although young Kazakhs can obtain these skills in Russian universities, requirements to work in Russia prevent these skills from reaching Kazakhstan. Ammonia has also faced local regulatory challenges, especially in urban areas. A general lack of awareness about ammonia and natural refrigerants among potential users, low salaries for ammonia operators while the average age of trained professional ammonia operators (trained in Soviet times) reaches 60 further complicates the situation for natural refrigerants.

However, there are several factors favoring the use of ammonia and other natural refrigerants in Kazakstan. These include plans by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources to advocate for natural refrigerants, Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols and food industry consolidation. Furthermore, the government is implementing a National Allocation Plan for greenhouse gas emissions which includes a quota and emissions trading system for food and other industries.


Turkey, another big country encompassing parts of both Europe and Asia, is the 17th largest economy in the world and the 18th in population. Hüseyin Yüksel of ISKID, Turkey’s Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Manufacturers’ Association, discussed current developments in natural refrigerants based technologies there. Turkey successfully phased out CFCs in the 90s and its HCFC phase-out program is well on its way today. Ammonia has been widely used in the food, beverage and cold storage industries at levels comparable to the European Union and the United States for decades. Turkey follows EU regulations that are advantageous to natural refrigerants.

CO2 refrigeration in Turkey is beginning to take off. The government’s “Meat and Milk Board” is planning fi ve large cold storages around the country using multiple CO2 -Ammonia cascade units at each. Given Turkey’s warmer climate and the higher resulting pressures, CO2 cascade systems are preferred. Currently there is one CO2 trans critical and two CO2 cascade systems in supermarkets. Investment costs is still a limiting factor for CO2 refrigeration systems. There is a need for more education on CO2 in Turkish universities.

Yüksel also reported progress on the use of hydrocarbons (R600 and R290) in display cabinets, bottle coolers, domestic refrigerators and some split type air conditioners. Turkish manufacturers have begun to make HC domestic refrigerators and components for HCs.

MIDDLE EAST: Hans Raaymakers, General Manager of Adearest in Dubai, presented an engrossing survey of the factors driving industrial ammonia refrigeration throughout the Middle East. He argues that industrial refrigeration industries are stimulated by a number of factors including population, political stability, money, fertile land and sweet water, local food production and the availability, reliability and cost of energy.

For many of these factors, there are important disparities between the different countries in the region. For example, while the Middle East has roughly half the world’s oil reserves, Raaymakers cites significant variations in energy costs from country to county. For example, energy costs in Jordan are 70% of European levels while in Iran they are only 15 percent of European levels.

Fertile land and fresh water are also unevenly distributed throughout the region; for example, while these are concentrated in Egypt’s Nile delta and the Fertile Crescent of Iraq, countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have very limited amounts of water and fertile land. Egypt, with its fertile Nile valley and delta and the region´s highest population, at around 80,000, is a big ammonia refrigeration market with investment picking up under the current government.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have abundant food production that is highly dependent on imports – given the lack of fertile land – and on desalination for meeting freshwater needs; both rely on ammonia for large plants and Freons for smaller plants. Iraq, which mainly uses Freons in its limited domestic food production industry, with its fertile land and oil wealth has a huge potential that is hindered by the extreme political instability we see there today.

During the 1980s, commercial plants in the region were using CFCs and HCFCs. In the 1990s, the market was dominated by HCFCs and the introduction of ammonia by European companies in the meat and dairy sectors. Since 2000, ammonia use has been strengthened by the presence of local ammonia contractors.

The challenges for ammonia in the Middle East include the low evaporating temperatures with the high ambient conditions, water scarcity, technical skills, wide differences in legislation, lack of cross border coordination and the political climate. In addition, there has been no specific legislation favoring low ODP and GWP refrigerants, nor visible enforcement of environmental protocols. Consequently, HCFCs and HFCs are widely used today. Local standards are lacking so the application of standards depends on the initiative of suppliers; when applied in this manner they tend to be European standards.

According to Raaymakers, much of the movement towards natural refrigerants is dependent on the actions and example set by multinationals following European standards and green solutions in their operations in the Middle East. However, not all the local players follow their example. He noted that the lack of environmental consciousness within the region is a big challenge that must be overcome through education.

For more details on the subjects described above, you may find the presentations from the Natural Refrigerants Forum at Chillventa 2014 on Eurammon’s website at: http://