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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.

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