Cutting Refrigeration Emissions with CO₂

In order to meet the world’s common goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century, the Philippines has committed to a reduction in carbon emissions of 75% by 2030 across a range of sectors, including refrigeration. It has also announced that it will reduce the importation of planet-warming HFC refrigerants by 80% by 2045.

The switch to planet-friendly natural refrigerants is a priority for the country, and also a challenge, because its demand for cold storage is forecast to increase by at least 10% annually. In order to help drive change, a special project has been launched by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines. The Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines aims to identify, develop and stimulate the development of low-carbon, energy-efficient refrigeration technologies and business practices throughout the entire food cold chain.

The official platform for the project is the Cold Chain Innovation Hub (CCI-Hub), which offers technical resources, training, knowledge sharing and stakeholder collaboration. It has already begun courses on the operation, servicing, and maintenance of CO₂ refrigeration systems, using sponsored units from well-known suppliers. These include a Güntner Cubic VARIO Air Cooler, a V-shape VARIO Gas Cooler, a Dual COMPACT Air Cooler, a V-shape COMPACT Dry Cooler and a GMMnext Control System. Those attending the courses will go on to train others at regional centers around the country.

Innovation Story CCI Philippines content

“As one of the earliest supporters of the CCI-Hub, Güntner has not only provided CO₂ equipment support, but also participated in technical seminars,” says Güntner Sales Director Nguyen Hong Quang. “It’s truly an honor to see our efforts driving technological innovation in the cold storage market in the Philippines.”

The initiative also offers funding of up to 80% for demonstration projects that use low-carbon, natural refrigerant-based technologies and show how improved cold chains can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, operational costs, and food loss in the country. In October 2023, the first project of this kind came to fruition, with the opening of the Philippines’ first transcritical CO₂ cold storage facility. Installed at an existing cold storage facility on the island of Panay belonging to local cold chain solutions provider Glacier Megafridge, the new low-temperature warehouse provides an additional 500 pallet positions.

The refrigeration system maintains internal temperatures of around -22°C and was installed by local contractor Cold Front Technologies. It includes a Güntner Flat VARIO Gas Cooler and two 18kW Güntner Cubic VARIO Air Coolers. According to Emilio Gonzalez La’O, President of Cold Front, as well as the obvious environmental benefits of using natural refrigerants, Glacier can also expect to see a 20-25% reduction in energy costs with its new CO₂ system compared to its existing HFC-based systems. Glacier’s President, Arturo C Yan, believes the project has shown a clear path to the future.

“We’ve decided to explore more sustainable options moving forward. We have to evolve. Our technologies should be efficient, sustainable, scalable and environmentally friendly.”

Jan Dusek, Group COO and Head of APAC at ATMOsphere and also Head of Global Partnership at CCI-Hub, was present for the inauguration of the system. He believes the Philippines will soon be leading the region in terms of using CO₂ transcritical solutions in the industrial sector.

“This project is a huge milestone for the industry in the whole of Southeast Asia. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”