Sustainable innovation and challenges in the industry

Sustainability is becoming more and more important to companies across a range of sectors worldwide. Many businesses are holding themselves accountable with sustainability goals, and making clear commitments to a ‘greener’ way of working.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is no different. Sustainability is an important part of our own core brand values. We’re proud to be evolving our products and embracing innovation to make a commitment to a more environmentally friendly industry.

The history of sustainability targets

In 1987, more than 197 countries signed the Montreal Protocol treaty to commit to reducing emissions and improving sustainability. For our industry, this saw the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in 1996.

Since 2015, more and more businesses have been committed to reducing emissions. More than 100 companies from around the world have committed to a phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This follows an EU and US target of a 79 per cent reduction in the use of HFCs by 2030, in favour of climate-friendly alternatives.

The challenges of producing a sustainable alternative

With the HVAC industry’s rapid global growth, it can seem a daunting task for companies to develop innovative new ‘greener’ solutions that still provide the same high quality performance that is suitable for a variety of sectors.

There are a number of challenges that companies face:

Cost

One of the main challenges to the industry is the innovation cost. Significant investment is required for the research, development and production stages.

Development costs can reach millions of pounds. This is because a vast amount is designated for safety, performance and material compatibility studies, as well as the development of production methods which have to be efficient and adhere to the highest safety standards.

However, there is also the cost associated with implementing the changes. Products have to be compatible with refrigerant technology for equipment developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMS) to use successfully.

Limited suitability of refrigerant molecules

The expertise of our team is of real importance to the creation of a sustainable alternative. With a limited toolkit of molecules suitable for refrigerants, it requires research and development teams to carefully screen each molecule to ensure its suitability and devise the combinations which can be applied to real systems. Furthermore, whilst searching for these new blends, our team focuses on preserving energy efficiency and safety of replacement or alternative fluids to find the ideal solution.

Creation of new refrigerant systems and equipment

For decades, the systems and equipment used across the industry have been developed to suit existing refrigerants and fluids. As a result, our expert teams have to face the challenge of discovering new fluids with a subtle difference in the balance of the properties.

To overcome the challenge, we are dedicating our time to ensuring we can provide the highest quality, sustainable innovations.

The time taken to develop an alternative refrigerant

Not only do sustainable alternatives require significant investment and expertise to produce, but they also take several years to develop. With the phase down in full swing, and regulatory bans scheduled for 2030, the work towards developing ‘greener’ solutions has to start now. And it involves companies at all stages of the supply chain too.

Educating the industry and supply chain about new alternatives

Once the crucial research and development stage has been completed, each group within the industry and supply chain needs to understand the new product on offer. This includes communicating the benefits, application and opportunities for use. It’s vital that this is shared throughout the industry to ensure an early adoption and the desired environmental impact.

A holistic approach to sustainable refrigerant development

There is a great focus in the industry on the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of a new energy efficient blend. This is used to measure emissions and estimate the impact of a refrigerant. The GWP is also a tangible way for policymakers to compare emissions and ensure the industry is accountable.

However, we believe there needs to be a holistic approach to looking at sustainable refrigerant alternatives. The environmental impact is far more in depth than finding a solution that has a lower GWP.

Our work involves investigating the bigger picture of the implementation and operation to discover the overall environmental impact. This means we can ensure a better, more innovative future proof solution is created.

Our sustainability commitment

Here at Koura, we are committed to innovation and providing customers across a variety of industries worldwide with future proof solutions. Our ongoing research and development programme has been a key focus for more than fifteen years. Product development is a key part of our ongoing evolution.

We have a large team dedicated to research and development and have invested a significant amount into this area of the business. We have trebled our investment since 2012.

Our aim is to produce innovative, more sustainable products whilst also providing high quality performance with a lower GWP. This will provide a significant improvement to current products on the market. Plus, it will benefit the industry and the environment in the long term.

One of our newest developments will offer a 95% reduction in GWP while maintaining energy efficiency in very low temperature refrigeration. This exciting development has been an accumulation of years of work and dedication and sharing ongoing dialogue with several global partners and key experts within the industry.

Achieving a sustainable HVAC industry

Ultimately, the industry is facing big changes in the next decade. With changing regulations, we see this as a fantastic opportunity to invest, innovate and grow.

As the industry embarks on these changes together, it provides a future proof solution for the sector and the planet to thrive.

Find out more about our refrigerants here