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"Natural refrigerants: first choice for air-conditioning"

3 questions for ...

eurammon member Sigurd Schiller

Air-conditioning is no longer just a topic for countries further south: Rising standards of living has resulted in a growing demand for comfort cooling in living and working spaces even across moderate climatic zones. The increasing need for energy also puts more focus on climate-friendly alternatives. Sigurd Schiller, eurammon member and Sales Manager for HVAC Germany South at Johnson Controls Systems & Service GmbH, explains the advantages of using natural refrigerants for air-conditioning systems and comments on future market potential.


1. There is a growing trend to use natural refrigerants such as ammonia or hydrocarbons for air-conditioning. Which specific properties of these substances make them so attractive for use in air-conditioning systems?

Sigurd Schiller: On the one hand, natural refrigerants have the advantage of being available cheaply and at short notice in unlimited quantities, while covering many refrigeration applications. Natural refrigerants are also environmentally friendly and stand out because they are highly energy efficient and have no or only a very low direct global warming potential. Moreover, they do not come under the European Union's F-Gases Regulation and should therefore be the first choice for customers. Decades of experience has already been gained in handling and using these substances in many industrial applications. This experience and knowledge now needs to be transferred to the air-conditioning sector.

2. There is also currently discussion about using natural refrigerants for mobile air-conditioning. What potential do you see here?

Sigurd Schiller: By August 2015 in Germany alone, there were around 460,000 cars with the controversial refrigerant 1234yf used in their air-conditioning system registered. In the context of the further development of electro mobility, there are efforts to look into the possibilities for using natural refrigerants in combination with alternative refrigeration and heat pump systems. Natural refrigerants already offer great potential for mobile air-conditioning, but just at the moment still higher initial investment cost being a drawback.

3. Shorter payback periods are often an argument in favour of systems using natural refrigerants with their energy-efficient operation. Even so, some operators are still put off by the frequently higher initial outlay. Which measures do you think are necessary to make natural refrigerants more attractive for air-conditioning systems?

Sigurd Schiller: The first step involved in enhancing the appeal of natural refrigerants in air-conditioning systems consists is reducing the system costs, for example by standardising products and installation conditions. At the same time, a change of approach is needed. Environmental awareness and sustainability must be given greater priority and importance in society at large and in the economy. Switzerland gives a positive example with its significantly stricter F-gases legislation that has driven the trend towards natural refrigerants.

Caption: eurammon member Sigurd Schiller explains the advantages of using natural refrigerants for air-conditioning systems.