Trends: compressors

- Global compressor sales JARN has published an extensive overview of compressor markets in 2009. On the whole, the compressor market has suffered from the decrease in the air-conditioning market (-2.9% compared with 2008). Sales of rotary compressors reached 6.3 million in November 2009, up 92% compared with November 2008. Most AC compressors are rotary, however scroll compressors are penetrating the market, thanks to the increase in sales of VRF units: 13 million scroll compressors were sold in 2009, i.e. an increase of 5% compared with 2008. The market for scroll compressors in refrigeration is also growing. Screw compressors are mainly used in medium- and high-capacity AC systems (2/3rds of them are for AC systems) and China is increasingly the fastest growing market and largest production base in the world. Centrifugal compressors, exclusively used for chiller applications, are dominated by US manufacturers. Expanding demand in Asia has caused rapid growth in the sector over recent years. However in Japan, domestic sales of centrifugal compressors have decreased considerably, dropping to 400 units in 2009. Reciprocating compressors are still widely used in both air conditioning and refrigeration. Despite their decrease in the AC market, they are still the mainstream compressor on the refrigeration market, domestic refrigeration included. - Compressors and refrigerants Recent trends in refrigerants are outlined in the JARN overview: R410A is gradually increasing in rotary compressors, which traditionally use R22. Most scroll compressors for air-conditioning units also still use R22 even though the use of natural refrigerants is gradually growing, or R404A, e.g. for freezing or refrigeration, and R410A, in the US. The main refrigerant in the centrifugal segment is R134a (70% of manufactured compressors) even though a few manufacturers still produce R123 units and some, such as Ebara, produce R245fa units. A variety of refrigerants is used in reciprocating compressors: for household refrigerator compressors, 90-95% units manufactured in Europe use hydrocarbon refrigerants, while 90% of the units produced in the US use R134a. The commercial refrigeration market is still dominated by R134a and R404A even though the use of natural refrigerants such as HCs and CO2 is gradually increasing.