Accelerate Australia & NZ spoke to SCM Frigo Technical Director Mirko Bernabei and Key Account Manager Anna Stella about the company’s small format CO2 condensing units coming to Australia and growing interest in CO2 from end users.
Following the official passing of HFC phase-down legislation by the Australian government on 19 June, the Australian market is now set to begin phasing down HFC imports beginning in January of next year. As such, interest in natural refrigerant-based systems is continuing to increase as key players in Australia look towards solutions developed overseas to help manage the phase-down. Signalling this interest is the announcement by Italy-based SCM Frigo S.p.A that they will be bringing their new CUBO2 Smart CO2 condensing unit to Australia later this year. Accelerate Australia & NZ spoke to SCM Frigo Technical Director Mirko Bernabei and Key Account Manager Anna Stella about the company’s history of working with CO 2-based refrigeration systems and the opportunities they see for them in Australia. A decade of CO2 development SCM Frigo began working with CO2 in 2004, developing cascade systems for customers in their largest market of Scandinavia. At the time, the company was responding to growing demand from those customers for alternative refrigerants.
“There was a need for CO2 units because of the huge taxes they had to pay for using HFCs in the European Nordic countries,” says Stella.
Progressive legislation, combined with an overall high regard for environmental protection in that region, continued to drive the market further away from HFCs.
“The Scandinavian countries have always had more focused strategies in terms of eco-friendly development and the use of refrigerants. They are generally greener countries and taxation on HFC refrigerants was very high,” Stella explains.
In response, SCM Frigo – just one year later in 2005 – began developing transcritical CO2 systems. Asked why the company had committed so heavily to CO2, Bernabei explains that they believed it to be the best long-term solution at the time.
“We decided on CO2 because we were convinced that CO2 was easiest to manage,” says Bernabei. Their customers were looking for a solution that was easy, reliable, and would be future-proof and provide long-term certainty.
This commitment to CO2 has paid off. SCM Frigo has seen a lot of success in Europe, along with several countries overseas.
As Bernabei stated at the ATMOsphere Australia conference in May 2017, “we now have more than 1,800 transcritical racks installed in 25 countries. They are operating in Europe, which is our main market, along with South Africa and South America”.
Their line-up of CO2 solutions extends also to industrial systems and most recently light commercial, with the recent release of the CUBO2 Smart CO2 condensing unit.
The small footprint unit has a cooling capacity of 0.6 up to 8.5 kW and was developed in response to market demand for smaller commercial applications.
“These days, the market is asking us to provide something for small capacities. The condensing unit was developed to fill this need, while at the same time, keeping it simple and staying [cost] competitive,” says Bernabei.