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Keeping Refrigeration Innovative

By using recycled carbon dioxide (CO₂) as a refrigerant instead of synthetic refrigerants, Carrier is helping balance sustainability with efficiency and performance in commercial refrigeration systems.

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Innovation is in the Air

When you design systems with the environment in mind, inspiration is all around you. So when Carrier set out to develop a more sustainable refrigerant, we looked to the atmosphere – and found carbon dioxide. CO₂ is affordable, naturally occurring and available worldwide. And today, through Carrier innovation and expertise, this environmentally neutral refrigerant is driving sustainability and performance in a broad range of commercial refrigeration and transport refrigeration solutions around the globe.

CO₂, is a refrigerant of the future. Yet in developing CO₂ as a refrigerant to meet today’s needs for energy efficiency, capacity, and low power consumption, Carrier actually looked to the past. CO₂ was first proposed as a refrigerant as early as 1850, reaching its peak use in the mid-1920s, but fell out of favor with the development of synthetic refrigerants a few years later.

We began research and development in the mid-1990s to better understand CO₂ technology for broad refrigeration applications. Since that time, we have made significant progress to improve designs with CO₂ as a working fluid. Through this effort, Carrier has developed breakthrough technologies that leverage advanced manufacturing processes, new, patented components and new materials to make CO₂ a viable refrigerant again.

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In 2004, Carrier installed its first transcritical refrigeration system using CO₂ technology in a hypermarket – a large retail facility combining a supermarket and a department store – in Switzerland. After an intensive field trial phase, this technology was launched in 2009 as the CO2OLtec® refrigeration system. Today, CO2OLtec solutions are used to keep food fresh in thousands of European supermarkets and hypermarkets while reducing their carbon footprints by approximately 50 percent compared to systems using the synthetic refrigerant R404A.

With a world-class low total equivalent warming impact, the CO2OLtec system can improve a store’s refrigeration energy efficiency by up to 10 percent. The system even won the Environmental Pioneer Award in the Refrigeration category at the 2008 Cooling Industry Awards.

And Carrier continues to harness CO₂ in some of the world’s most innovative refrigeration systems to improve efficiency in other ways. Deployed across Europe, CO2OLtec Integral solutions enable a store to save up to 35 percent in energy costs by leveraging the waste heat from its refrigeration system to heat the building and its sanitary water.

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We have also employed the use of CO₂ beyond retail applications, developing sustainable solutions for transport refrigeration as well. In 2010, Carrier Transicold was the first to announce natural refrigerant container technology. Used to transport perishable, chilled and frozen goods, such as bananas, cookie dough, ice cream, meat and cheese, Carrier’s NaturaLINE® unit is the world’s first natural refrigerant container technology. By using naturally occurring, non-ozone-depleting CO₂, NaturaLINE represents an environmentally sound and sustainable technology. With updated system design and components, NaturaLINE maintains optimum performance and efficiency while delivering a global warming potential of one, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the system. In 2011, NaturaLINE technology won International Freighting Weekly’s prestigious 2011 Innovation Award – New Product, recognizing it as “a smart new product that answers a real market need.”

But Carrier hasn’t stopped there. We made news again in 2011 when we displayed a concept unit for over-the-road trailer refrigeration using CO₂.

As the natural leader, Carrier has integrated nature into new technologies to dramatically reduce the global warming potential, ozone depletion and carbon footprint of our products. We are committed to addressing the need for performance, efficiency and stability while offering the ultimate in sustainable solutions to customers around the world.

Our pioneering use of CO₂, a naturally occurring substance, is just one more example of how at Carrier, sustainability and innovation are always in the air.