AIRAH’s Refrigeration 2017 Conference attracts record attendance
Taking place March 27–28 at Melbourne’s
Etihad Stadium, the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air
Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) held its first
major event for the year – the Refrigeration 2017 Conference. Headlined
by a brace of international keynotes speakers, the two-day conference
attracted a record-breaking number of delegates.
Now established as the leading gathering place for the
Australian refrigeration industry’s leading minds and trendsetters, the
Refrigeration 2017 Conference looked at the state of the industry, how
it may respond to the challenges initiated by COP 21 and the global HFC
phase-down, and how this will impact upon educators, legislators,
regulators, end users, engineers, consultants and technicians.
Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium provided an eye-catching the
backdrop for the two-day event, which attracted a record 150-plus
Labelling the event a bona-fide success, AIRAH CEO Tony
Gleeson, M.AIRAH, says Refrigeration 2017 highlights AIRAH’s commitment
to help shape an efficient, productive and resilient industry.
“Although we didn’t quite reach Etihad Stadium’s 50,000
capacity, we’re still extremely pleased with the turnout and reception
from all delegates at Refrigeration 2017,” Gleeson says. “At a key
juncture for the refrigeration industry, the conference organising
committee led by Stefan Jensen, F.AIRAH, was committed to curating a
program that addressed the most critical issues from both an Australian
and international perspective.
“Those in attendance have the capability to shape the
refrigeration space for years to come. So to have these influencers
gathered in the one space, and to witness so much robust conversation
throughout the two days was wonderful to see.”
Opening proceedings on day one, vice-chair of European
natural refrigerant initiative Eurammon Monika Witt outlined the role of
natural refrigerants in the future.
Providing an update on the situation in Europe, Witt
outlined the status of refrigerants, the steps required to meet climate
targets, and other aspects to consider for a sustainable future.
“Using HFOs is simply ‘quick fix’,” says Witt. “The future
is natural. The smartest decision is to leapfrog other refrigerant
options and turn to the natural choices.”
President of US-based Colmac Coil Manufacturing, Bruce
Nelson, M.AIRAH, headlined day two with a rousing keynote presentation
on the “Donald Effect”.
Nelson, vice-chair of the International Institute of Ammonia
Refrigeration (IIAR), discussed the developments in low-charge ammonia
refrigeration systems in light of an uncertain and shifting political
environment following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.
“We need to make ammonia great again!” says Nelson. “The
politics of climate change has driven the phase-out of HFCs via the EPA
SNAP rule. However, the politics of public safety still limits
application of ammonia and hydrocarbons. The “Donald Effect” on
regulations and enforcement is unclear, but low-charge technology has
expanded applications for ammonia.”
Day two also provided arguably the most insightful session
of the conference, as a panel consisting of Witt, Nelson, Robert Kebby
from Honeywell, and Jan Dusek from
Shecco discussed the international implications from COP21 and the future of the refrigeration industry.
With questions opening up to the delegates, the session
provided a platform for passionate – and at times, intense – discussions
regarding training, licensing, and the participation of women in the
“There’s evident concern surrounding the industry and its
attractiveness as a career for those entering the workforce,” says AIRAH
executive manager, government relations and technical services Phil
Wilkinson, F.AIRAH. “Yet many in the room felt that now was an exciting
time to get involved in refrigeration, as the uptake of CO2 and ammonia
technologies becomes more commonplace. AIRAH looks forward to working
with the key stakeholders in the space to promote this, and ultimately
boost the number of skilled apprentices.”
Wilkinson says two of the exciting facets of the conference
were its decidedly international flavour, and its future focus.
“One of the fantastic things about the conference was its
distillation of the brilliant ideas and new technologies coming
through,” Wilkinson says. “For example non- refrigerant apparatus such
as magnetic refrigeration was raised in discussion.
“It’s incredibly exciting that the vapour-compression cycle may not be the only option available to us.”
AIRAH thanks the sponsors of Refrigeration 2017: A-Gas, Bitzer and Heatcraft.
The Refrigeration 2018 Conference is slated to be held in Sydney in March 2018.