GEA sustainability: ‘We took a risk, that’s for sure’

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

GEA Grasso natural refrigerants
GEA has decided to focus only on natural refrigerants as part of its future development, but admitted ‘it was a risk’.

Speaking to FoodProductionDaily after the launch of its V Series portfolio last week, Danny Heuvelmans, director project management, sales and marketing, GEA Grasso, said ammonia is the ideal refrigerant. 

'We took a risk'

We took a risk, that’s for sure, because there are other competitors who are still focusing on synthetic production and the market still has a lot of them​,” he said. 

But in time they will be phased out and that’s going to pick up quite quickly now as it’s becoming more of an issue.​ “ 

Heuvelmans said GEA is focusing on natural refrigerants such as ammonia and CO2 (carbon dioxide), rather than HFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons), which has an effect on global warming. 

China and the US are the top two producers of HFCs worldwide. 

In June last year, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made a pledge to scale back production of HFCs, especially greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and insulating foam.

China has also promised to end HFC production by 2030 to meet the terms for a $385m assistance package from The Montreal Protocol. 

Future phase out

Fact Box

Montreal Protocol: ​A 1987 international treaty to heal the ozone layer by controlling ozone depleting substances.

Natural Refrigerants: ​Common natural refrigerants include isobutane and other hydrocarbons, ammonia, water, air, and carbon dioxide.

GDP:​ Global Warming Potential is the relative power of a given pollutant to cause global warming over a given timescale, factoring its ability to trap the sun’s heat and its atmospheric lifetime. GDPs are measured relative to carbon dioxide, which is given a GDP of 1.

ODP:​ Ozone Depleting Potential is a factor indicating a substance’s relative ozone damaging power.


There are a lot of HFC or synthetic refrigerants that have a certain global warming potential that is way too high and will be phased out in the near future,​” he added. 

GEA decided a long time ago to focus on natural refrigerants because that will be the future. Sometimes it’s easier for manufacturers to use HFCs but we will not focus on that area because that is not sustainable for us​. 

With the V Series we only released it with ammonia for example and we have another compressor that is produced for ammonia and CO2​. “ 

Heuvelmans said ammonia is one of the most efficient refrigerants but from an installation point of view, contractors have to take certain safety measures because ‘it’s not very healthy for humans when there is a large amount and you breathe it in’.

Safety precautions

Companies have to take safety precautions during installation to avoid leakages, but when its in the air there’s nothing wrong with it​," he added. 

CO2 is the same  - its everywhere in the air but when you have a high concentration of it, it pushes out oxygen into a small space such as a machine room in a factory. There are different types of legislation about it in different countries​. 

“The advantage is using ammonia as a refrigerant. Is because it doesn’t contribute towards the depletion of the ozone layer. In that respect this kind of material is the future. That is what we are focusing on for now. “ 

Heuvelmans said GEA Grasso has decided to use 100% natural refrigerants at its factory in Den Bosch, in the Netherlands and business is increasing. 

There are competitors or manufacturers who are in the commercial refrigeration business, and in the east these products are run with synthetic refrigerants but that is slowly changing to ones with less global warming​,” he added. 

“These manufacturers are driven to a certain date to change, but for us because we have already made that decision we don’t have that deadline that we have to work towards​. 

In the beginning of the development of the V Series we decide to only go for natural refrigerants.  We made the cut to only go with ammonia in that respect​. “ 

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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