Providing sustainability and security of investment: compressed air drying with CO2
Ottendorf-Okrilla, December 2014 – thermeco₂ compressed air dryers by thermea are the world's first systems to dry compressed air using the natural refrigerant CO2 for applications in the automotive industry. This technology ensures the reliable treatment of compressed air in automotive plants. A large German carmaker has now replaced conventional compressed air dryers with machines from the thermeco2 ADR series (air dryer with reciprocating compressor). The thermea systems provide greater security of investment and sustainability of production.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fluorocarbons (FC), which are harmful to the environment. When used as a refrigerant, CO2 remains in a closed circuit. It does not have to be chemically produced but is a by-product of technical processes or is gained from natural metabolic cycles.
Unlike all FCs, CO2 does not have an impact on the greenhouse effect. With a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1, it does not contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer. The CO2 GWP is the reference value for all other refrigerants. The common R134a refrigerant has a GWP of approximately 1,430; the use of R22, its predecessor, will no longer be permitted effective 2015 due to its environmental impact. Carbon dioxide is cost-effective as well as colorless, odorless, and is neither combustible nor toxic.
Stricter EU guidelines
In light of the new EU regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gas Regulation), the use of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant provides an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient solution for many areas of application. The guidelines, which are applicable starting in 2015, are aimed at lowering the use of harmful refrigerants within the EU by about 80% by 2030. As a result, harmful HFC refrigerants will become very expensive in the foreseeable future and availability will be limited.
A German carmaker has been successfully using thermea's technology at its main plant since September 2013. A technical university has proven the expected high efficiency of the 30,000 m³/h refrigerant dryer by means of an extensive measuring program for the entire first year of operation. Any compressed air dryers still using the R22 refrigerant will be gradually replaced and two further plants operated by the carmaker will be modified accordingly, thus ensuring more environmentally friendly production processes.
Compressed air is one of the most important process media in body construction as it is used, e.g., to operate welding, assembly and painting robots. Aside from the automotive industry, high-performance compressed air refrigerant dryers are also required for glass production, packaging systems, as well as bottling companies and steelworks.
Tried and tested
Since its launch in 2011, thermea has delivered a number of machines based on CO₂ technology, which have since been tried and tested. These mainly include applications for heating, cooling and water heating for buildings and for providing process heating and cooling in industrial applications.
Under the trade name thermeco2, thermea manufactures high-temperature heat pumps, chillers, and compressed air dryers using the natural refrigerant CO2 for industrial use and building services. The medium-sized company based in Ottendorf-Okrilla near Dresden, Germany, was founded in 2008 and has been part of the mechanical and plant engineering firm Dürr since October 2012.