The German compressor giant launched an ammonia package for large systems but its compressors are also being used by low-charge ammonia units.
Authors: Janaina Topley Lira and Marc Chasserot
Ammonia and carbon dioxide compressors represent less than 10% of sales for Bitzer U.S., the third largest subsidiary of German compressor maker Bitzer.
But sales are going to get much larger, as ammonia keeps expanding its application range while CO2 becomes the choice for supermarkets in the future, believes Joe Sanchez, application engineering manager at Bitzer U.S.
He shared his views recently with Accelerate America the subsidiary’s headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., where Bitzer manufactures most of its reciprocating compressor line, from fractional up to 50 HP units, for all refrigerants.
A year ago, Bitzer launched its modular ammonia compressor package (ACP) for large industrial applications, which comprises three compressors. On top of that, OEMs specializing in low-charge industrial ammonia systems are using Bitzer compressors.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Bitzer is expanding its range, revamping its smaller compressors, and adding larger compressors and ammonia packages. This strategy will enable it to approach the market from many different angles and support both low-charge innovations and more traditional systems.
For 80 years, BITZER has been manufacturing refrigeration compressors, the “heart” of refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The company is considered a global leader in the production of screw, scroll and semi-hermetic reciprocating compressors for refrigeration applications and commercial air conditioning, with models specifically designed for natural refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia.
Predicting exactly how quickly the natural refrigerant market will grow in the U.S. is difficult. CO2 in Europe for example, grew from a few hundred installations to several thousand in the space of three years.
What is clear, however, is that the low-charge ammonia revolution is the first step in expanding ammonia to other applications.
Currently the industrial sector is focused on replacing the conventional 10,000-pound-and more ammonia cold storage systems with solutions that have only a few hundred pounds. There are only a handful of low-charge ammonia systems currently in operation in the U.S., but as the technology continues to evolve ammonia could increasingly be used for both industrial air-conditioning systems and commercial refrigeration.


For Sanchez, the switch to low charge is a trend that will take off in a big way, along with similar growth for CO2 transcritical solutions in commercial refrigeration. Particularly in New Jersey, where R22 is the dominant refrigerant, low-charge ammonia could take away significant market share from fluorinated refrigerants.

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