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Natural Refrigerants: Making Sense Webinar Wrap-up

The use of natural refrigerants is nothing new in the refrigeration industry. In the early days of refrigeration, carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia were often the refrigerants of choice, but were later replaced by modern synthetic chemical options. Today, global phase-downs (and even bans) of hydroflourocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are part of an increasing effort to lower the global warming potential (GWP) in refrigeration and/or air conditioning systems. As a result, natural refrigerants, which often have little to no GWP, have come full circle and are being specified in commercial refrigeration systems more frequently. In my recent Making Sense webinar, I explored the viability of natural refrigerants and their implication on refrigeration system design.

The most common natural refrigerants returning to the commercial refrigeration landscape are propane (R-290), isobutene (R-600a), ammonia (R-717) and, most commonly, CO2 (R-744). While each refrigerant poses its own unique handing and operating parameters — from increased pressures and capacity to flammability and toxicity concerns — the ozone depletion potential (ODP) and GWP of natural refrigerants are virtually zero.

CO2 has many properties that make it an extremely viable refrigerant today:

  • ODP = 0; GWP = 1
  • Non-toxic, non-flammable, odorless
  • Lower viscosity, meaning smaller line sizes vs. HFC piping systems
  • Less sensitive to pressure drops
  • Smaller refrigerant charge
  • Less expensive than HFCs
  • Better system performance vs. HFC systems under most conditions.

Like all natural refrigerants, the key to successfully using CO2 in modern refrigeration systems is to specify equipment that is designed for CO2 utilization. Globally, CO2-based refrigeration systems are gaining wider adoption than in the United States, and are typically based on one of the following system types: secondary, cascade and transcritical booster.

As we look for ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint in the future, there’s no question that CO2 (and other natural refrigerants) will be used more frequently in commercial refrigeration systems. It will become increasingly important for commercial retailers, system designers and contractors to understand the safety, performance, economic and environmental implications of the refrigeration systems that use this emerging class of natural refrigerants.

To listen to an archived recording of my webinar and learn more about natural refrigerants, please visit our Making Sense website, where we make sense of the issues that matter most in commercial refrigeration today.

Andre Patenaude
Director — CO2 Business Development
Emerson Climate Technologies

Is Your Convenience Store Missing Out on Savings Opportunities?

Small format retail facilities face different operational challenges than supermarkets or other large format retailers. Applying a control system can help turn the challenges or problems these facility managers face into opportunities to reduce costs and enhance operations.

Is Your Convenience Store Missing Out on Savings Opportunities?

Most convenience stores do not have system controls. In a typical convenience store, the HVAC systems, refrigerated cases and lighting are managed separately and are not connected. The refrigeration system is often stand-alone and while thermostats are used, they may not be programmed to the correct settings. Manual processes may be in place to manage lighting controls.

For convenience store facility managers, your key problems likely include:

  • Limited visibility into store operations: If you are responsible for multiple stores, you may not have the oversight to know what is happening in all of your locations at any given time.
  • Difficulty of enforcing store policies: You may have established business policies around lighting and thermostat settings, but how do you know that they are being enforced by the store manager and followed by personnel in a single store?
  • Poor maintenance: Many facilities use a “run to fail” maintenance strategy, meaning that the equipment generally will fail without warning, leading to emergency repairs or replacements on short notice.
  • Energy leakage: If a mechanical problem or personnel issue causes a store to stray from the policies put in place – for example, settings on a thermostat are changed or canopy lights are left on throughout the day – this can lead to energy usage that is higher than necessary.

If an average 5,000 square foot convenience store spends $62,000 annually on operational costs, they may spend 44.5 percent of the budget on energy and 17.5 percent on maintenance. If this was your store, how much could you save by addressing the problems above? A control system can provide a convenience store typically between five and 20 percent savings, depending on the current facility management in place.

A control system consists of three layers and understanding the system architecture is beneficial to realizing the ways it can improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance operations. The three layers include:

  • Control: The control layer includes the electronic elements within your case that have control algorithms to affect the HVAC systems, refrigeration systems and lighting. The controls include the inputs and outputs, the sensors and transducers, and the equipment interface.
  • Supervisory: The supervisory layer provides visibility. This layer offers user management, user interface, access to monitor the system remotely, alarm management and data logging.
  • Enterprise: The enterprise layer is the connection from the sites to the cloud, where the data collected from the systems in your stores can be stored, compared and analyzed.

Many people think having controls and stopping at the first layer is enough, but that’s not the case. It’s important to apply the entire system to manage, monitor and optimize your small format facility.

Interested in learning more about control systems for convenience stores? Look for future blog posts on this topic here over the next several weeks. And, if you have specific questions, please email me at

John Wallace
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

Five Things Your Boss Wants You to Know About Commercial Air Conditioning Regulations

Did you know 20-40 percent of current 6-60 ton commercial package and split systems don’t meet new 2016 efficiency minimums? Your boss may not be aware of the changes coming, but it’s a fair guess that he or she expects their team of HVAC professionals to be current on upcoming industry changes.

Photo: (L to R) Bart Powelson and Karl Zellmer of Emerson, Richard Lord of UTC, Cindy Sparrow of Lennox, Frank Vadino of Cold Technology.

Photo: (L to R) Bart Powelson and Karl Zellmer of Emerson, Richard Lord of UTC, Cindy Sparrow of Lennox, Frank Vadino of Cold Technology.

At our Technology in Action Conference last month, we brought together industry leaders to talk about the effect of new air conditioning efficiency standards on contractors, manufacturers and our customers.

During the course of our lively discussion, five key points emerged:

  1. To understand new efficiency regulations on commercial air conditioning systems, you need to know how they are being measured. The ASHRAE 90.1-2013 standards include a 13-15 percent increase in Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER) for air cooled package/split systems. IEER is a measure of part load efficiency using a weighted average of efficiencies at various system capacities and conditions.Rather than looking at EER, which had been the industry standard for decades, the regulations, which are expected to go into effect in 2016 are focusing on performance across a range of conditions, since typical systems spend most of their time running at 50-70 percent load capacity.
  2. The emphasis on part-load efficiency has a great side effect: improved comfort. When it comes to evaluating the performance of an HVAC system, regulatory agencies are focused on energy use, bosses usually care about costs, but let’s not forget that visitors to your store or building care mostly about comfort. Fortunately, the new efficiency standards can serve all three needs. A minimum standard measurement that more accurately reflects how systems run leads to more efficient equipment that will both save on energy use and cost, but also include capacity modulation that can lower humidity and maintain more consistent temperatures.
  3. Manufacturers and OEMs have your back and are developing the technology to support the new efficiency minimum standards. While you (and your boss) may be just now coming up to speed on the standards for 2016, many OEMs and manufacturers have been preparing for the new standards for years. Introducing capacity modulation with tandems and variable speed compressors will be the trend to improve part-load performance.
  4. Don’t forget to review rebates and voluntary standards. Voluntary standards like Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the U.S. Green Building Council are pushing the upper end of the spectrum, creating guides and benchmarks beyond minimum standards.Be sure to impress the boss with your knowledge of energy rebates available on a national and state-by-state basis by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  5.  Training is key. Staying current on the latest developments in technology will be key to helping ensure equipment is running efficiently. Connect with OEMs and manufacturers for training on the equipment your team will be servicing and installing.

Bart Powelson
Director of Commercial Marketing, Air Conditioning Business
Emerson Climate Technologies

MAKING SENSE of New Refrigerants

Today, the refrigeration industry is in the throes of transition. As governments around the globe look at curtailing the use of refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), retail refrigeration operators and equipment manufacturers are anticipating the next generation of refrigeration system architecture. In response to these increasing regulations, many equipment manufacturers are actively developing refrigeration systems based on natural refrigerants such as ammonia, propane and CO2. While these natural alternatives promise significantly lower GWP compared to current HFC-based systems, they will require operators to update system architectures and service practices to accommodate their unique temperature and pressure requirements.

And in case you’re of the opinion that these impending regulations are a far-off future event, think again. In Europe, the parliament recently unanimously passed a vote in favor of new legislation that will significantly reduce fluorinated gas (F-gas) in new commercial refrigeration equipment by 2020. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Act placed the reduction of HFC refrigerants directly in its sights, with promises of new regulations that reduce HFC use as soon as the summer of 2014.

Join Our Next Webinar, Tuesday, May 20 at 2 p.m. EDT

Our next Making Sense webinar will explore the implications of these new refrigerants on system architecture, equipment selection and service. Some larger supermarket refrigeration systems in North America have already begun the transition to natural refrigerants, especially with the use of CO2-based transcritical systems that perform well in colder climates. But for other operators, in particular smaller retailers, this transition poses more questions than answers. That’s precisely the reason we’re offering this complimentary webinar.

In this complimentary webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Background on new alternative and natural refrigerants
  • Why propane and ammonia are gaining popularity
  • Differences between CO2 and HFCs
  • Three system architectures that utilize natural refrigerants

The webinar will be presented by Andre Patenaude, Director — CO2 Business Development, Emerson Climate Technologies. Andre’s extensive experience with various refrigeration system architectures and alternative, emerging refrigerant technologies makes him well-suited to lead this discussion. He’s currently responsible for developing a global strategy that incorporates the company’s CO2 industry stewardship, marketing initiatives, communication/messaging activities, channel training and educational programs as they relate to utilizing CO2 in refrigeration systems.

Join Andre on Tuesday, May 20 at 2 p.m. EDT for this informative and timely webinar. Register now by visiting our website at:

Craig Raney
Director of Marketing, Refrigeration
Emerson Climate Technologies

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