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[New E360 Webinar] Explaining Applications for New Refrigerant Alternatives

JOIN US for our next E360 Webinar, “Understanding Applications for New Refrigerant Alternatives” on Tuesday, January 24 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.

With recent EPA SNAP rulings mandating the phase-down of high-GWP refrigerants, the number of new refrigerant alternatives has increased dramatically. They’re designed to offer improved energy efficiencies and environmental sustainability across a wide range of commercial refrigeration applications. But with so many new refrigerants becoming available, many operators are trying to determine which options are best suited for their businesses.

The EPA has also listed some new, lower-GWP A1 refrigerants as acceptable for use. Because these alternatives may likely be among the first options that operators will consider, many of them are wondering what impacts these alternatives will have on equipment performance.


In our next E360 Webinar, entitled “Understanding Applications for New Refrigerant Alternatives,” Jason Prenger, director of refrigeration engineering, will answer these important questions to help operators make the transition to lower-GWP refrigerants with confidence.

Jason will address the impacts of these new refrigerants on compressor performance, with specific emphases on reliability, efficiency and capacity. To provide regulatory content of this discussion, he’ll review the current state of regulations and their impacts on existing high-GWP refrigerants per refrigeration application. Then, he’ll evaluate the new alternatives that the EPA has already listed as acceptable for use.

Attendees will learn:

  • How new refrigerants compare to their predecessors in efficiency and capacity
  • Operating envelope considerations for lower-GWP A1 alternatives
  • Challenges facing the various industry channels — OEMs, wholesalers and contractors

So, if your business will soon be impacted by the transition to lower-GWP refrigerant alternatives, this webinar is designed to help you make the best decision about which options will be most effective in your refrigeration applications.

Register now to join Jason Prenger for this important refrigerant discussion on January 24 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.

Key Benefits of Refigerant Leak Detection Program

I recently wrote an article featured in Food Safety Magazine that discussed the broad impacts of refrigerant leaks on food retailers and the benefits to having an effective leak detection program. Highlights from the article are below.


Minimizing refrigerant leaks is important to food retailers not only from a financial perspective, but also to protect the environment and meet government regulations. Investing in a leak detection program can help retailers to minimize and even eliminate leaks, thereby improving store operations and the overall customer experience.

Impacts of Refrigerant Leaks

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill research, the average U.S. supermarket leaks an estimated 25 percent of its refrigerant supply per year. In a 100-store chain, this could result in $600,000 annually in refrigerant leaks, not to mention additional costs due to labor, loss of business and food quality issues.

Leak Detection Methods

Remote leak detection programs continuously monitor system refrigerant levels and notify stakeholders when there is a deviation from normal operating conditions. This system analyzes key indicators that help provide actionable insights. “Sniffing” detection methods can only monitor parts of the refrigeration systems that are located in closed areas.

Best Practices for Effective Leak Detection

Retailers should aim to implement a zero-tolerance policy for refrigerant leaks. When establishing a leak detection program, three key areas are critical to incorporate:

  • Detection Methods: There are different technologies to choose from, but depending upon the retailer’s requirements, automatic leak detection equipment can provide early detection of leaks and help to identify the location.
  • Reliable Notifications: When a leak occurs, it’s critical that the appropriate people are alerted. Alarm notifications can be remote, local or a combination of the two.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Recording and analyzing the data at the time the leak occurs can help to determine the best course of action.

Read the full Food Safety Magazine article online here.

And to learn more about the latest options in refrigerant leak detection, read this blog post from my colleague Mike Saunders.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

James Mitchell
Product Manager, ProAct Enterprise Software and Services
Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions




Food Bank Pays It Forward and Nets Refrigeration Payback

This blog is a summary of the article Food Bank Pays It Forward and Nets Refrigeration Payback from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the article in its entirety.


Digital refrigeration upgrade leads to utility rebate and increased reliability

As an affiliate of Feeding America, the West Ohio Food Bank serves 170 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters throughout 11 counties in western Ohio. The non-profit organization stores both purchased and donated items in its 35,000 square-foot facility, including a wide variety of nutritious frozen and refrigerated offerings in its 5,000 square-foot freezer and 2,500 square-foot refrigerator. In recent years, the refrigeration equipment supporting these cold storage units was becoming failure-prone, resulting in excessive maintenance costs and unwanted headaches to the West Ohio Food Bank’s operators.

So, when representatives from Emerson Climate Technologies approached the non-profit about donating all-new equipment and components for a digital refrigeration system, operators were intrigued. When they found out that the system could significantly reduce their energy footprint, greatly improve refrigeration reliability and significantly lower maintenance costs, they were all ears. And, when Emerson secured a $2,500 rebate from the utility, AEP Energy, based on analysis of projected efficiency gains, operators officially gave Emerson the green light to begin the project in late 2014.

In with the new, low-condensing operation

The West Ohio Food Bank had inherited their refrigeration system from the facility’s previous tenant, a supermarket warehouse. Like many traditional, fixed-capacity compressor and mechanical component systems, theirs was characterized by a high rate of compressor cycling (on/off) to match the required refrigeration capacity. The legacy system had become a source of excessive downtime and repair costs for food bank operators, requiring the purchase of replacement fixed-capacity compressors to keep the system running and resulting in as much as $20,000 in operating expenses.

For Emerson, the project presented an opportunity to demonstrate a proof-of-concept that utilized their Copeland Discus™ Digital compressor for precise capacity modulation and the components needed to enable low condensing operation. Although low condensing is not necessarily a new concept, improvements in controls technology and a reduction in costs are making it a more valid option for many operators seeking to reduce energy consumption while improving refrigeration reliability.

Low-condensing systems allow the head pressure to float from 10–20 °F above the ambient temperature down to 60 °F, as opposed to fixed-capacity systems that are designed for 105 °F conditions, regardless of the actual ambient temperatures. Floating the head pressure allows compressor capacity and energy efficiency to increase as the ambient temperature drops, delivering up to 15–20 percent energy efficiency ratio improvements for every 10 °F decrease in head pressure.


Acceptable Refrigerants Explored in Recent E360 Webinar

View the latest E360 Webinar: Making Sense of the Latest Rulemaking on Acceptable Refrigerants

For the past several years, rulemaking on refrigerants has been at the top of the list of concerns for the commercial refrigeration industry. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic July 20, 2015, ruling marked the beginning of a transition from high global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to the next generation of environmentally friendly alternatives. From equipment design and servicing requirements to safety concerns and building codes, this transition has far-reaching implications that will take some time to sort out.

In our twentieth E360 Webinar, titled “Making Sense of the Latest Rulemaking on Acceptable Refrigerants,” Dr. Rajan Rajendran, Emerson’s vice president of system innovation center and sustainability, assembled an expert panel of refrigerant manufacturers to discuss the latest rulemaking and review the development of acceptable refrigerant alternatives. Rajan was also joined by Shane Angle, Emerson’s vice president and general manager of commercial air conditioning, to discuss the AC side of the equation.

Rajan kicked off the informative discussion by providing a background on the types of commercial refrigeration equipment affected by the EPA’s Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) rulings, such as stand-alone equipment, supermarket systems, remote condensing units, and refrigerated food processing and dispensing equipment. He then placed the EPA’s actions within the context of the many global regulations aimed at reducing HFCs, including: the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol; E.U.’s F-Gas ruling and Environmental Canada’s recent proposal.

Then, with the EPA’s HFC phase-out schedule as the backdrop, Rajan turned the webinar over to the refrigerant manufacturer representatives to discuss the development of new lower-GWP alternatives. The expert panelists included: Matt Ritter, global business director of fluorochemicals at Arkema, Inc.; Barbara Minor, senior technical fellow at Chemours; and Dr. Samuel Yana Motta, director of technology at Honeywell International. Each representative presented the key performance characteristics of their company’s new synthetic refrigerant alternatives as compared to their HFC counterparts, including: GWP, intended applications, discharge temperature, efficiency and capacity.

Representatives also presented what they consider as true “future proof” options that have a GWP of less than 150. It’s important to note that to achieve minimal levels of low-GWP, these blends all are classified as A2L, or mildly flammable. The panel also explained that not all of their new refrigerants are listed as acceptable alternatives, though they are working with the EPA through its SNAP program to achieve this designation.

Finally, Shane Angle provided an AC perspective, explaining that the regulatory timing — including: A2L standards development by the IEC, UL, ASHRAE and building codes; Department of Energy efficiency standards; and the EPA refrigerant proposal — are driving the need for compressor development to support common AC applications. He closed with a chart that demonstrated the projected global emergence of flammable, lower-GWP refrigerants over the next five years.

The webinar concluded with a nearly half-hour Q&A session between attendees and panelists. Judging from the volume and nature of questions, it’s clear that this is a topic that will require continued stewardship as this transition to lower-GWP alternatives continues. Trust that E360 is committed to keeping you informed with every new development. Click here to view the webinar in its entirety and learn more about the latest refrigerant rulemaking.

Latest Options in Refrigerant Leak Detection [Video]

In an E360 Conference presentation, I discussed the challenges retailers face in detecting refrigerant leaks and some of the leak detection technologies available. You can watch the video and read the highlights below. 

Note: these materials reflect insights on the proposed EPA rulings. For the latest news and final rulings, please visit the EPA’s website.

Refrigerant leaks have a broad impact in many areas. Assuming a 100-site supermarket chain with a conservative estimate of a 20 percent leak rate (about 700 lbs. per year per store), refrigerant leaks would have these results:

  • Economic: The refrigerant R-404A costs $7/lb. resulting in nearly half a million dollars in leaked refrigerant costs. This does not include customer disruptions and service technician costs.
  • Equipment: Equipment that is low on refrigerant due to leaks has to work harder, thereby reducing longevity.
  • Energy: The equipment also tends to run longer to maintain the proper temperature, resulting in increased power usage.
  • Climate: There is a direct CO2 equivalence impact of these leaks on the atmosphere, which is equal to the emissions of 24,000 cars on the road or powering 10,600 homes.

The EPA has established a set of rules and guidelines in Section 608 of the Clean Air Act regarding refrigerant leaks. Food retailers need to stay up-to-date on the latest options in leak detection to satisfy environmental regulations, and to reduce operational costs.

Key elements of the current rulings include:

  • Commercial refrigeration and industrial process refrigeration equipment leaking over 35% must be fixed
  • Technicians working on equipment need to be certified
  • Refrigerant must be properly disposed
  • Technicians need to maintain diligent records and file information

Recently, the EPA finalized updates to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Key elements of this update, which are effective as of January 1, 2019, include:

  • More stringent requirements for repairing leaks in larger appliances (>50 lbs);
    • Revised leak rate thresholds:
      • –30% for Industrial Process Refrigeration (IPR) (lowered from 35%)
      • –20% for commercial refrigeration (lowered from 35%)
      • –10% for comfort cooling (lowered from 15%)
    • New recordkeeping for the disposal of appliances containing five to 50 pounds of refrigerant;
    • New reporting requirement that kicks in when larger appliances leak 125% or more of their charge in a calendar year;
    • Restricting the sale of HFC refrigerant to technicians certified under Sections 608 or 609 of the Clean Air Act; and
    • Mandates for inspections and/or monitoring, based on certain instances

There are multiple technologies available for leak detection, including:

  • Active: A unit in the supermarket with tubes that detect refrigerant leaks in various zones throughout the store and allows for continuous monitoring.
  • Passive: Devices placed in various zones of the supermarket that use infrared technology to detect leaks and provide for continuous monitoring.
  • Indirect: Looks at the performance of a system through existing sensors and hardware to analyze the data to detect leaks.

For more information on refrigerant leak detection best practices, you can also read this previous blog post.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 Mike Saunders
Senior Lead Innovation Technologist
Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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