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SINTEF and MKK developing two new solutions for high temperature cooling

A collaboration between SINTEF and MKK led to two new solutions for environmentally friendly high temperature cooling systems, that are used in smelters. The science-industry project developed concepts based on two refrigerants that are more efficient than the ones already on the market, and that have smaller climate footprints.

– All around the world, the industry is looking for more efficient and sustainable solutions, and by offering such groundbreaking products, we can create growth and new jobs, says MKK CEO, Ann-Helen Baadstrand.

– We looked at the whole spectre of refrigerants, from natural to synthetic, and identified two that stand out both in terms of efficiency, climate footprint and system design. These will allow us to achieve the same level of cooling with smaller systems, says SINTEF Energy Research scientist Christian Schlemminger.

The environmental consequences of refrigerants have long been the subject of much discussion.

– Older refrigerants have been forbidden because they destroyed the ozone layer. Now, the products that succeeded them are also being phased out because of their large global warming potential. There is also a lot of discussion about the latest generation of refrigerants, and whether their degradation in the environment forms harmful substances, says Ángel Álvarez Pardiñas, research scientist at SINTEF Energy.

– The most sustainable solution, he adds, is to use natural refrigerants, that is to say gasses that already exist in nature.

The systems manufactured by MKK operate in extreme conditions, and are built for ambient temperatures of up to 90 degrees – in the smelting industry for example.

More research is needed

The solutions are not ready to be commercialised yet, and more research is needed to get there.

The first step will be to build prototypes and test them to ensure they meet the required standards to be used in challenging conditions.

– The collaboration started through the borrow a researcher scheme, and we would not have come this far without it. We hope to be able to bring the development further together with SINTEF, says Ann-Helen Baadstrand.

MKK provides cooling systems for 60% of all the smelters in Norway, and holds between 8-12% of the global market. The company hopes to be first on the market with the next generation of high temperature cooling technology.