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issue: May 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Tokyo Report
World Compressor Trends


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Technology and cost-reduction drive compressor changes.

The technological developments of compressors worldwide can be summarized as:

  • the adoption of environmentally friendly refrigerants, including HFC and natural refrigerants for all sizes of compressors for both air-conditioning and refrigeration use; and

  • higher efficiencies, in preparation for satisfying Kyoto Protocol and the prevention of global warming.

    Compressor Production

    To realize further price decreases, major air-conditioner manufacturers are shifting their production operations to China and Southeast Asia, where the production costs can be lowered. For example, Sanyo moved production from Japan to China; MHI moved production from Japan to Thailand; and Fujitsu General moved production from Japan to Thailand and to Shanghai.

    These manufacturers are planning to mount rotaries or scrolls on their units that are produced by local facilities. For example, Matsushita plans to produce R410A d.c. inverter scrolls at its Guangzhou plant in China, mount them on room air-conditioners (RACs) produced locally, and ship them to Japan, while selling them as RACs produced locally by competitors.

    Accelerated Shifts to Inverter Control

    The most effective step for reducing the yearly power consumption of compressors is to subject them to efficient capacity control.

    In 2001, Toshiba Carrier developed a new series of two-cylinder type rotary compressors up to 6 hp with R410A utilizing d.c. motor and inverter control. This development triggered harsh competition among Japanese packaged air-conditioners (PAC) manufacturers for extremely high-efficiency models over COP 4.0.

    In addition to 1.5-6.0 hp PACs for commercial use, Toshiba Carrier developed 8- and 10-hp PACs by using two inverter-controlled d.c. two-cylinder rotaries. Their COPs were 3.90 and 3.60, respectively, topping the reference value of 3.07 as specified in Japan's Energy Saving Act Amendment.

    Multi-ACs and GHPs

    With a demand of about 100,000 units per year in the Japanese market, multi-ACs are being utilized for reasons such as the fact that they require 30-percent less equipment investment than required for central ACs. Coupled with improving product reliability, they are likely to penetrate into the European and Chinese markets.

    Meanwhile, GPs (gas-engine driven heat pumps) have been rapidly expanding in Japan, as they exhibit large heating capacities in cold districts, and are suitable for operation in areas where electric power is in short supply. For the same reasons, they are likely to penetrate the European and Chinese markets.

    This report is filed by Wasaku Ishida, Japanese correspondent, APPLIANCE magazine, and vice president, JARN (Japan Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News).

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