Refrigeration scientists at SINTEF and NTNU have been honoured by an award from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for their contribution to solving the greenhouse problems caused by leaking refrigeration systems and heat pumps.

The award has shown that it is possible to use CO2, a natural substance, as the “work-horse” in cooling systems and heat pumps. SINTEF and NTNU were the first to demonstrate that CO2 can be used in vehicle air-conditioning systems without increasing fuel consumption.

To utilise CO2 in cooling systems does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, since it is essentially “borrowed” from industrial waste gases that would otherwise have been released to the atmosphere.

The EU is currently drawing up a directive that will require all new vehicle models to have air-conditioning systems that do not contain the chemicals in use today. Vehicle manufacturers already have test cars on the road fitted with CO2-based air-conditioning. SINTEF and NTNU are also members of an EU project that will develop simple, inexpensive CO2 systems for small cars.