Refrigerant Compressor, Chiller and Cooling Tower Innovations at AHR 2024


The 2024 AHR Expo co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI, was held Jan. 22-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, concurrent with the ASHRAE Winter Conference. A total of 1,875 exhibitors spread across 527,520 square feet, and 120 free educational sessions drew 48,034 total attendees. Driven by decarbonization and green transition megatrends, this event highlighted the global refrigerant transition; adoption of heat pumps; integration of building automation systems and AI; and optimization of the energy/water nexus in applied equipment. This article recaps the response and innovation from manufacturers of chillers, cooling towers and related equipment.  


The 2024 AHR Expo drew 48,034 attendees. 


Refrigerants, Refrigerant Compressors & Chillers

“Regulations are driving change in our industry,” said Brian Dail, Application Engineering Manager, Danfoss – citing the AIM Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposal of rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors. Legislation to phase-out high-GWP refrigerants is escalating, and a global refrigerant transition is underway. Starting in 2024, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that cuts the production of high-GWP hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants by 40%.


Kyle Fields and Eddie Rodriguez displaying a Turbocor oil-free magnetic bearing refrigerant compressor model at the Danfoss booth (left to right).


“We’re really focused on the hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) conversion. R-410A has been a workhorse in the chiller industry for a long time. We’re now going to see a pivot to R-454B,” said John Keating, Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Refrigerants. “You will also see R-513A as a replacement for R-134A.” Global chiller company Multistack will now utilize the Honeywell Solstice R-454B in its chillers and heat pumps.


John Keating displaying Solstice R-454C, R-454A and L40X at the Honeywell booth.


“R-32 is now the refrigerant of choice for Daikin,” said James Macosko, VP Product Management, Daikin Applied. “Our Trailblazer AGZ air-cooled scroll chiller has been converted from R-410A to R-32.”

Chiller and heat pump manufacturers discussed broad capacity ranges, utilization of lower-GWP refrigerants, exceeding integrated part-load value (IPLV) efficiency standards, physical footprint optimization, centrifugal interstage refrigerant economization, and much more.

Carrier displayed the AquaEdge 19MV2 water-cooled two-stage VSD centrifugal chiller (R-515B or R-513A), and AquaSnap 30 RC air-cooled scroll chiller (R-32). The AquaEdge chiller is equipped with refrigerant-side economizer, a two-stage back-to-back compressor design with inlet guide vanes on both stages to decrease turbulence. “These guide vanes provide a smooth refrigerant flow through the compressor with less turbulence, providing more capacity per RPM – and with our VSD technology, every RPM we can shave off, we’re leveraging a cubic ideal fan loss,” said Scott McDonough, Associate Director – Water Cooled Centrifugal Chillers. Carrier’s AquaSnap air-cooled scroll chiller has been updated with R-32 and a smaller footprint. The AquaSnap is also equipped with a shell and tube evaporator – which is not typical to see on scroll chillers, according to Frank Silva, Product Manager. Carrier also introduced PLV Pro, a free software for chiller plant design.

“Consider the role AI will have in building controls over the 20-year life of a chiller installed today. Your chiller plant must have the largest operating envelope possible, because that defines the space the AI can optimize within,” said McDonough. 


Frank Silva with the AquaSnap 30 RC air-cooled scroll chiller at the Carrier booth.


Johnson Controls displayed a YMAE air-to-water inverter scroll heat pump (R-454B), a YVWH-200 water-to-water dual screw heat pump (R-1234ze or R-515B), a CYK-400 water-to-water compound centrifugal heat pump (R-1234ze or R-515B), and more. All three are capable of simultaneous heating and cooling operation. The YMAE can produce up to 140°F hot water, while the water-to-water units reach 170°F (CYK) and 176°F (YVWH) hot water temperatures. The YMAE exceeds ASHRAE 90.1-2022 IPLV efficiency standards by 54%.


Mihir Nandkeolyar and Fred Berry at the Johnson Controls booth (left to right).


ClimaCool, part of Climate Control Group, manufactures air-source and water-source modular scroll chillers with brazed plate heat exchangers in Oklahoma City – an epicenter for the commercial geothermal movement, according to Ian Goicochea, VP of Channel Sales. These products have dual scroll compressors achieving ideal turndown, redundancy, and flexible operation.


Wallace Kittredge and Ian Goicochea at the Climate Control Group booth (left to right).


Copeland displayed an 80-ton model of its oil-free centrifugal refrigerant compressor (R-513A, R-515B, R-1234ze) with Aero-lift bearing technology. This product ranges from 50-200 tons, is equipped with two-stage impellers, variable inlet guide vanes, a brushless permanent magnet motor, and has options for interstage vapor injection. The Aero-lift bearing technology utilizes self-lifting fluid film to provide frictionless performance.


Lancelot Sharpe at the Copeland booth.


Daikin Applied displayed a Trailblazer EWYT 25-ton air-source heat pump (R-32); a Trailblazer AGZ (converted from R-410 to R-32) air-cooled scroll chiller with microchannel aluminum coils with a new Daikin blue coil coating option (10-year warranty) for coastal environments; and a WMT two-stage oil-free magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller with R-1233zd, an A1 classified refrigerant for lowest flammability, toxicity and a GWP value of one according to Everett Hettema, Marketing Engineer.


Everett Hettema and Jim Macosko at the Daikin Applied booth (left to right).


Initial Heat Rejection – Cooling Towers & Fluid Coolers

Operators and specifiers are receiving more and more options on how to reject their initial heat loads. Through the performance certified and tested open evaporative, hybrid, dry and adiabatic heat rejection technologies available today, users have the ability to optimize energy and water use according to their facilities’ process requirements, decarbonization initiatives or environmental constraints.

EVAPCO introduced the PHW induced-draft parallel hybrid fluid cooler – designed to maximize heat rejection, allowing reduction of connected horsepower. The CTI-certified PHW is designed as a compliment to EVAPCO’s ESW4, the company’s largest and most energy-efficient single cell evaporative cooler. The PHW offers high-tonnage capacity and layout flexibility for industrial plants, data centers and large HVAC applications, especially where requirements call for fewest units, connections and fans. Two box sizes are offered: 12 x 24 ft. and 14 x 26 ft. Fan motor sizes are 30-100 hp, with two 7.5 hp pump motors per cell. Hot process fluid enters the coil through lower coil connections. Cooled water from the basin is pumped through distribution nozzles to be sprayed over the coils. Ambient air is drawn into the unit from above in parallel flow with water over the coil. A portion of the recirculated water evaporates; this evaporation – with cooled water flowing over the tubes, removes heat from the process fluid. Cooled process fluid leaves the coil through top coil connections, returning to the system. The PHW includes EVAPCO’s XPak bonded block fill and high efficiency drift eliminators.


Matt Sneizek, Troy Reineck and Tony Parrotta at the EVAPCO booth (left to right).


SPX Cooling Tech introduced its new OlympusV Adiabatic Systems – featuring the Marley OlympusV adiabatic fluid cooler, and Recold OlympusV adiabatic condenser and CO2 cooler. Each unit is equipped with a CoolBoost Opti AD control panel, electronically commutated (EC) fans, stainless steel coils, a recirculating water distribution system for scale mitigation and extended adiabatic pad life.


Bakhtiyor Ubaydullaev, Andrew Rogers and Dustan Atkinson displaying the OlympusV Adiabatic System at the SPX Cooling Tech booth (left to right).


Delta Cooling Towers, a manufacturer of cooling towers with a high-density polyethylene shell, displayed its anti-microbial cooling tower. Construction is underway for a new Delta manufacturing facility in West Virginia. It will operate the largest molding machine in North America, according to the Delta team.


Al Schildwachter, Dave Blodgett and Martin Previtera at the Delta Cooling Towers booth (left to right).


Baltimore Aircoil expanded its Trillium Series adiabatic fluid cooler to achieve a 1,300-ton capacity in a double stack configuration. It’s blue 6” deep adiabatic pads have antimicrobial properties and UV protection. “The saturation of the deeper pads suppresses the dry bulb temperature further. The closer you can get to the wet bulb temperature, the cooler the air that goes across the coils will be,” said Rich Goodale, Baltimore Aircoil.


 Longacre and Rich Goodale at the Baltimore Aircoil booth (left to right).


Tower Tech announced its full product line has received FM Approval certification, complementing its existing certifications for wind, seismic, missile impact and thermal performance. Its factory-assembled fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) cooling towers can now be upgraded with FireStrong and StormStrong FRP composite technology. Tower Tech also introduced hybrid closed circuit fluid coolers with modular, stacked FRP coils instead of metal coils.


Mathu Solo, Micah Curtis and Jay Harris at the Tower Tech booth (left to right).


REYMSA displayed a model of its new HFCE Series closed-circuit hybrid fiberglass fluid cooler. To offer hybrid head rejection capabilities, the HFCE Series is equipped with a Type L copper coil and UV stabilized PVC fill. REYMSA customers have the options between direct drive fan systems with induction or permanent magnet motors, and gear drive with induction motor.


The REYMSA Cooling Towers team at AHR Expo.


Güntner, manufacturer of dry and adiabatic fluid coolers, introduced its aircore cloud IoT solution. “It’s a complete platform able to derive data from the IoT to develop analytics for performance optimization and serviceability,” said Zachary Wernlund, Smart Solutions Manager, Güntner.  


Zachary Wernlund and Jascha Heynck at the Güntner US booth (left to right).


Nimbus displayed its Virga hybrid adiabatic cooling systems from 5 to 450 tons per unit. Nimbus offers spray-type adiabatic systems with a stainless-steel shell and copper coils.


Jerry Petit at the Nimbus Advanced Process Cooling booth (left to right).


Filtration, Controls and Maintenance

Mikropor displayed its atmospheric air filtration solutions. Jeff Thibodeau is an industry expert on ambient air quality and filtration. Thibodeau serves as Vice President of Atmospheric Air Filtration for Mikropor America and serves with the National Air Filtration Association. Mikropor also offers the M-Chill process water chiller.


Ryan Loeffler, Jerry Orahood, Jeff Thibodeau, Evren Yazici and Tunga Eltetik at the Mikropor booth (left to right).


Watts displayed its smart strainer solutions to protect hydronic pump stations, water loops and and heat exchangers. With auto-flush capability, strainer maintenance is automated to blowdown the system with a solenoid valve.


Jenn Carlino at the Watts booth.


Delta Electronics displayed VTScada, a monitoring and control platform for energy across the industrial spectrum to enhance HVACR equipment performance and efficiency. Its VFDs with A2L certification and more than 97% AC-AC efficiency adjust motor speeds to meet demand. In addition, its magnetic bearing compressor solutions, with an IPLV exceeding ASHRAE 90.1, high reliability and lower maintenance costs, contribute to the overall energy efficiency.


Jared Burkholder at the Delta Electronics booth.


“It is important all parties understand the safe handling, storage and transportation of mildly flammable (A2L) refrigerants and have a plan in place for R-410A recovery and reclamation,” said David Budzinski, President, Residential and Light Commercial, Johnson Controls.

Superior Signal displayed its AccuTrak ultrasonic leak detectors for refrigerant leak detection. In another hall, NAVAC launched and demoed its NR7 refrigerant recovery unit compatible with all common refrigerants – including newer A2L refrigerants.

The 2025 AHR Expo will be held February 10-12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. For more information visit

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Published April 2024