Largest flammables test lab opens

Danfoss has opened what it claims is the world’s largest flammable refrigerant ATEX test lab at its commercial compressor factory in Trevoux, France. The € 16 million investment in the 3,000 m² facility is seen as an indication of the rapid transition to lower GWP alternatives and the increasing role that flammable refrigerants will play in the future.

The transition to alternative refrigerants has gained speed since 2017, generating huge R&D and training costs for the entire industry. The new lab is a significant expansion of the former 450 m² ATEX lab opened on the same site in 2011.  

The new lab will be used to test new generations of scroll and reciprocating compressors with alternative refrigerants. Offering up to 1500 kW of cooling capacity, it is possible to replicate its full range of tests with refrigerants up to class A3 and help the industry make the transition to A2L/A3 flammable alternatives.

The facility has more than 50 test benches and 16 separate test rooms offering the full range of performance, reliability, acoustic and calorimeter tests. It is capable of testing compressors from 0.5 to 60 TR (Tons of Refrigeration; 1.76 to 210.97 kW) and parallel compressors from 0.5 to 240 TR (1.76 to 843.84 kW) per circuit.

With up to 1200 kg of flammable refrigerant in the facility at any one time, safety is paramount. In addition to audible and visual alarms it offers emergency venting and automatic system shutdown in the event of a leak. 

Commenting on this substantial investment at the official opening yesterday, Danfoss Cooling president Jürgen Fischer said: “It is an investment that will help us in finding solutions that will keep our industry sustainable, reliable and trustworthy.”