Evapco Vice-President Kurt Liebendorfer foresees a growing need for low-charge ammonia systems in 2016, in reponse to several safety and climate change regulations. In our NEXT series, we're publishing exclusive interviews with industry players about their hopes and expectations for 2016.
ammonia21: How do you see the market for natural refrigerants developing in your region and globally in 2016?
Evapco’s current focus is in the food and beverage market (manufacturing and cold storage) where ammonia is already well-accepted and the refrigerant of choice due to its efficiency and cost advantages. Evapco is a strong preference among our customers, with our ammonia evaporator, condenser and pressure vessel product lines, so the introduction of our packaged Evapcold low-charge ammonia system is being greeted with high levels of interest.
ammonia21: Are there any external market trends developing that will affect the natural refrigerant sector?
Yes, the combination of increasing safety regulations around the use of ammonia and the growing interest in the use of ammonia as a solution to climate change regulations have significantly increased the awareness and need for low-charge ammonia systems. [Recognition of] the strong benefits of a packaged solution for low-charge ammonia systems (versus traditional field constructed ammonia systems) is also a growing trend.
ammonia21: Are there any expected policy changes in your region or globally that will have an impact on the natural refrigerant industry in 2016?
The current administration in Washington has ramped up the enforcement of OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] regulations over the last few years and has been imposing higher levels of citations and fines regarding the improper use of ammonia. This will continue in 2016. This in turn will continue to drive interest in low-charge ammonia systems, because these systems allow owners to fall below the ammonia Threshold Quantities (TQs) at which the regulations kick in. Thus low-charge systems can relieve the regulatory burden on owners and contractors.
ammonia21: Are there any expected developments in the training of technicians and experts working with natural refrigerants?
Packaged low-charge ammonia systems will greatly help to improve operator training for the facilities that install them. Our pre-engineered and manufactured Evapcold systems are simpler to operate than custom-built, field-erected ammonia systems. The operational hazards are also identified earlier through Evapco’s product testing, development and improvement.
ammonia21: Which specific projects or new installations are you excited about for 2016?
There are many, but the first is the shipment and installation of our first Evapcold order for Western Gateway Storage Co. located in Ogden, Utah.
ammonia21: Do you plan to develop your natural refrigerant product and/or technology offering in 2016?
Yes, over the last 24 months Evapco has invested heavily in the research, development and testing of the Evapcold family of products that are now on the market. In 2016 this will continue with the validation and deployment of several new members and configurations to the Evapcold low-charge ammonia family.
ammonia21: Do you see any threats to your natural refrigerant business emerging?
The threat is one common with other new technologies, that being resistance to change. Packaged low-charge ammonia systems are a bit disruptive to the traditional ammonia refrigeration market and as such, the pace of adoption is related to the success of early adopters, which is why Evapco has invested so heavily in product R&D, testing and validation, along with the necessary manufacturing infrastructure.