Why CO2 should be part of your cooling vocabulary


The days of toxic chemicals that pose a risk to manufacturer, customer and the environment are gone. Today’s coolant compressors like the R744 compressor run on CO2 also called carbon dioxide. A naturally occurring gas in our water and atmosphere, CO2 leaves behind the days of toxic CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) and dangerous refilling processes.

But is this really a good thing? Does CO2 work as well as stronger chemicals? Is it affordable for business? Learn about how and why CO2 cooled refrigeration compression works, and how it can benefit your business.

What is CO2?

A colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than air, CO2 is comprised of a carbon and two oxygen (dioxide) atoms to create a molecule commonly found in our surroundings. Usually odorless, this water-soluble compound is found almost everywhere from water to ice to air to petroleum.

Harmless in most quantities, carbon dioxide provides the bubbles in soda and the frost in “dry ice.” For industrial applications, this inert gas is safe in welding and fire extinguishers, and also in refrigeration.

CO2 in refrigeration

While not new, the use of CO2 in cooling was not as popular in the past since it operates at a much higher pressure than previously common chlorofluorocarbons. Recent transitions to more environmentally friendly materials have combined with innovations in engineering to change this fact, with CO2 coolant use currently on the rise. Dorin’s first CO2 compressor was designed in 1996. Since then, these sustainable compressors have been redesigned from the ground up, going beyond the simple adaptation from CFCs used by other manufacturers.

Understanding both the environmental consequences as well as the mechanical challenges of making this cooling option accessible, innovation was taken from the automotive industry to make a resulting efficient, yet surprisingly simple compressor. Viewing this as a long-term solution for the HVAC industry, engineers had to overcome:

  • High thermal stresses (discharge temperature up to 200°C)
  • High-pressure fields (up to 8x higher vs. to HFC application)
  • Short stroke, causing extremely high load on the rod small end
  • High miscibility with lubricants, imposing advanced tribology solutions

Fortunately for business consumers, the result has yielded a sustainable product with thousands of logged working hours.

Commercial applications of CO2 cooling

Using carbon dioxide to cool isn’t limited to small compressors or restaurant appliances as some may believe. Many commercial industries are using these cooling technologies on large commercial scales too.

The technical aspects of CO2 cooling include:

  • High operating pressures
  • A narrow range of operating temperatures
  • A much higher pressure at the triple point (-69.9 °F at 75.1 psia)
  • A much lower temperature at the critical point (87.9 °F )

In simpler terms, this means that carbon dioxide is an energy-efficient coolant with minimal risk. A favorite of the food and manufacturing industry, CO2 has widespread use in commercial facilities. Since it’s original use in production, this gas is now an alternative to environmentally toxic coolants, as well as a strong contender when compared to other standard cooling gasses. While in the past, systems like CO2 and NH3 used to cost more than ammonia systems, now these costs are reducing quickly. Combine that with lesser environmental costs and employee hazards and the difference is clear.

Being environmentally conscious in business no longer means having to pay more and settle for less. Coolant devices based on carbon dioxide are a prime example of how engineering and innovation are designing for today’s problems. And those problems include both cost and social responsibility.

By eliminating materials harmful to both manufacturers and consumers, industries such as Dorin are looking to define the future of commercial business. Learn more online.



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