Embraco, a multinational company focused on refrigeration solutions, is banking on disruptive technologies to stay ahead of the pack. It sees hydrocarbons as the ideal solution for the future of refrigeration. Accelerate sat down with CEO Luis Felipe Dau to find out more.
Hydrocarbons are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to HFCs. Embraco, a multinational focused on refrigeration solutions, is banking on “disruptive technology projects” to stay ahead of the pack. Accelerate sat down with CEO Luis Felipe Dau to find out more.
Accelerate: How would you currently characterise the global HVAC&R market? What do you see as the top drivers of change?
Dau: The refrigeration value chain must continue to reinvent itself and innovate much more. Whoever does this best and as a first mover will bear significant value creation in our industry. There are several opportunities to be explored. The market – particularly manufacturers – is passing through a moment that is challenging yet full of opportunities.
The biggest challenge I see in the industry is differentiation in the eyes of end users. Researching in detail consumer behaviours and translating them into a few attributes that consumers truly value, segment-by-segment, country-by-country, is one key factor for success. Increasing consciousness of environmental sustainability has driven more energy-efficient systems and regulations. Additionally, an increasing appeal for health, translated into food preservation and consumer choices for a healthier lifestyle, is also emerging strongly. Variable speed compressors are a current reality that will accelerate in the near future. We already see movement in the Latin American, Asian and European markets. The motivation brought by growing demand for refrigeration systems with higher energy efficiency, lower noise and longer food preservation is an opportunity to differentiate by matching system and compressor in a unique way. Connectivity is another relevant trend, closely related to the Internet of Things. In the case of refrigerators, new features will be developed to increasingly connect the user to equipment, bringing advantages in food preservation and equipment maintenance.
Accelerate: Does Embraco see an opportunity in the HFC phase-down plans being put in place locally and globally? Does this sustainability drive pose challenges for your business too?
Dau: For more than 20 years, Embraco has used natural refrigerants in its compressor portfolio for commercial and household use to reduce the negative effects on the ozone layer, greenhouse effects and to improve the equipment’s energy efficiency. We believe that using natural refrigerants – especially hydrocarbons – is the ideal solution for the future of refrigeration by sustainably aligning economic and environmental needs. The use of natural refrigerants with low GWP is on the agenda worldwide, both for use in household refrigeration, as well as for commercial. The U.S. and many other countries are making strides in the refrigeration industry, specifically in commercial food service and retail, to limit energy consumption and harmful environmental impacts. We believe that HFCs will become unfeasible for large-scale production in the medium term. Sustainability drives our company strategy. We have the constant challenge of being at the forefront of developing new technologies and solutions that meet customer demand, promoting energy efficiency, reducing consumption of natural resources and lessening impact on the environment. Accelerate: How would you currently describe the commercial refrigeration market in particular, in terms of opportunities and challenges? Dau: This market is changing faster than ever, due to several regulations all over the world, driving increased efficiency as well as GWP reduction. Production, products and systems using fewer materials are also increasingly driving segments of the refrigeration industry. Our main driver is to keep developing solutions to support our customers in the short term and researching others for the long term. The main challenges are related to the next wave of regulations, which will push our customers to increase energy efficiency even more. A combination of drivers – sustainability, health and connectivity – has brought new opportunities to innovate. Accelerate: Do you think Embraco is well placed to take advantage of the shift towards hydrocarbons in household and commercial refrigeration? Dau: We are pioneers in using natural refrigerants that, compared to other fluids, make a negligible contribution to global warming and are harmless to the ozone layer. Natural refrigerants also contribute significantly to reducing energy consumption. By adopting propane (R290), in addition to the environmental benefits, we helped our customers manage future regulatory risk. Accelerate: How do you see the market developing in the next 10 years? Are we looking at a post-HFC world in the realm of commercial refrigeration? Dau: Rules and regulations will continue to evolve, which is why we place a great deal of focus on our research and development to ensure that we develop the most energy efficient, dependable and innovative compressors and cooling solutions. We believe that natural refrigerants will be the reality after HFCs.
The full version of this interview appears in ‘Hydrocarbons – A New World Order’, the special edition of Accelerate Corporate published today.