Monday, May 31, 2021

After a long, COVID-enforced break from large face-to-face events, AIRAH’s Refrigeration 2021 Conference at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne represented a chance to explore the latest developments from the world of refrigeration, and a much-anticipated reunion.

“It’s been a long journey to return to in-person conferences,” says AIRAH Chief Executive Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. “And when you see the people from our industry back in the same room together, you realise what we’ve missed. There is a clear desire to reconnect.”

This desire was reflected in a strong turn-out of 150 people who enjoyed the two-day hybrid conference both face-to-face and online. They were treated to three international keynote presentations that highlighted innovations in the sector, and showed the profound impact that refrigeration has on our world.

Bruce Nelson, M.AIRAH, from Colmac Coil Manufacturing connected from the US to discuss natural refrigerants. As well as looking at the more commonly used CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons, Nelson spoke about systems that use water and air as refrigerants. He emphasised that these could pave the way to low-GWP heating and cooling.

Thomas Frank from Refolution in Germany followed up with a presentation on the air refrigeration systems his company has developed in European cold saunas that operate at -115°C. And Thomas Lund from Denmark shared Danfoss' detailed analysis of the performance of industrial-size refrigeration systems.

In all, more than 30 presenters and panellists offered insights on everything from advanced technical topics such as high-temperature heat pumps and cascade heat exchangers, to broader issues for the refrigeration industry such as attracting new talent – especially women.

Gender equality was just one of the familiar challenges raised. Other lively discussions focused on the transition to lower-GWP and flammable refrigerants, professional registration and trade licensing, and the eternal quest for wider industry recognition.

“These issues have been with us since we ran our very first Refrigeration Conference a decade ago,” says Gleeson. “But we believe they can be overcome. That’s why it is AIRAH’s goal to provide events like this with excellent technical content, as well as broader conversations so specialists and other stakeholders can tackle the big issues. Whether it be in refrigeration or in other parts of the HVAC&R and building services industry, these spaces are vital, and AIRAH is committed to maintaining them.”

AIRAH thanks the Refrigeration 2021 Diamond sponsor, Kirby; the Gold sponsors, A-Gas and simPRO; the Bronze sponsors, Alfa Laval, Bitzer and Evapco; and the Women of AIRAH STG as the Cocktail Function sponsor.

AIRAH also thanks supporters ASHRAE and i-Hub, and media partners Ecolibrium, HVAC&R Nation, and HVAC&R News.