In life, they say, there are no shortcuts. The same can be said for GEA’s approach to innovation – including its latest offering: the GEA CompaX – the world’s first semi-hermetic compact screw compressor designed for use with NH3, or ammonia chillers.
Following seven years of intense development, this new technology is opening up new opportunities for customers to solve their air conditioning needs while meeting safety, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and reliability targets.
What do frozen pizza, an indoor ski arena in Dubai and a bustling airport or hospital in summer all have in common? They all need to be kept cool. And while we have come to take such conveniences for granted, the pressure is on to increase the sustainability and efficiency of the refrigeration and cooling technologies we depend on today.
A critical component of any cooling system is the refrigerant. In the past, the go-to solution was hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), however, they are being phased out around the world and primarily replaced with natural refrigerants, such as ammonia – a colorless inorganic compound of nitrogen and hydrogen which can exist in either liquid or gas form. While this transition to “NatRefs” takes place, many producers, and therefore their customers, are still dependent upon HFCs for their air conditioning, heat pumps and chillers, which has broad impacts across the commercial, industrial and residential sectors. Likewise, the cost of HFCs are increasing, for example in Europe, due to the decreased HFC quota under the new European F-gas Regulation.
Intelligent, future-proof compressor design for ammonia chillers
The smart 3-in-1 design of the GEA CompaX builds on proven GEA Grasso M series compressor technology, incorporating a suction gas-cooled electric motor and an oil separator in an extremely compact design without external piping. The compressor's outstanding efficiency is a result of the copper winding in its suction gas-cooled electric motor – unique for ammonia compressors. This solution means no external cooling is required. Its compactness further reduces the risk of leakage and eliminates the need for a shaft seal. Thanks to GEA CompaX, customers can simply have it all: Minimized leakage risk for safe air conditioning as well as an ammonia solution for maximum plant efficiency and a clean environment.
The CompaX forms the heart of the recently launched GEA BluQ chiller, and is surrounded by efficient heat exchangers. A key advantage of the new BluQ chiller is that it only requires 40-50 g of ammonia per kW cooling capacity, meeting international demand for "low ammonia content" liquid chillers. If you compare the BluQ with its 1.2 MW and required 60 kg of ammonia to HFC chillers, which may require 400 kg of refrigerant, that alone represents a significant cost-savings. “The new GEA CompaX compressor combined with the GEA BluQ chiller not only provides end users with a way forward and out of their current situation, but is a truly future-proof solution that delivers in terms of CO2 reduction, total cost of ownership (TCO), safety and reliability,” explains Dirk Oschetzke, GEA product manager for screw compressors.