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R-290 Condensing Units Deliver Refrigeration Efficiencies and Regulatory Compliance

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The growing demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly commercial refrigeration equipment has led to the resurgence of the natural refrigerant propane (R-290). With a global warming potential of 3, R-290 checks two key regulatory boxes: 1) it is listed as an acceptable refrigerant substitute by the EPA; and 2) it meets the DOE’s call for more energy efficiency in compressors and condensers. To support our OEM customers who are responding to this market demand, Emerson offers a line of condensing units designed to maximize R-290 efficiencies.

As a class A3 (flammable) refrigerant, R-290’s charge limit of 150g has largely constrained its use to smaller, self-contained applications. This makes R-290 an ideal candidate for use in stand-alone, reach-in applications, where the DOE has mandated 30–50 percent reductions in energy consumption as of March 27. This same class of equipment will also be subject to the EPA’s phase-down of commonly used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in 2019. The disparate timing of these regulations is forcing foodservice OEMs to consider meeting both requirements in the same design cycle. Currently, R-290 is a leading option for accomplishing both objectives.

Energy-efficient condensing units

Copeland™ M-Line condensing units provide all the technological improvements needed to help OEMs achieve regulatory compliance while giving end users optimal performance in low- and medium-temperature applications. Designed to deliver energy improvements up to 30 percent, M-Line condensing units are built on the following improvements:

  • Latest generation of Copeland hermetic compressors
  • Electronically commutated fan motors (an optional feature)
  • Condenser coil tubing design that enables additional coil rows

Next generation compression technology

Emerson has been testing alternative refrigerants for years to help OEMs make the transition to DOE- and EPA-compliant compression technology. Emerson offers A*E and R*T compressors rated for use with R-290 and available in fractional horsepower options to serve as the basis of Copeland M-Line condensing units. Designed with OEM and end user concerns in mind, these compressors deliver the following benefits:

  • Minimal sound output for quiet operation
  • More than 20 percent energy-efficiency improvements compared to R-404A
  • Little to no environmental impacts

Wider adoption of R-290 is evidence that the commercial refrigeration industry is becoming more comfortable with the natural refrigerant alternative. While OEMs and operators alike have accepted its 150g charge limit, even incremental charge increases would enable significant advances in system design and efficiencies. This charge limit is currently under review by building codes and standards makers. If (and when) charge limits are increased, Emerson will be prepared to make the necessary updates to our compression technology.

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Selecting a New Refrigerant — Current and Future Options

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Whether you’re an OEM or an end user, selecting an alternative refrigerant for new commercial refrigeration platforms is not an easy decision. From installation and servicing requirements to performance, environmental and economic impacts, there are many factors to consider — including the complexities of the regulatory climate.

Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 decision to change the status of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, the list of acceptable refrigerant alternatives has continued to expand. The ruling set forth specific change of status dates whereby HFCs will no longer be permitted in various commercial refrigeration equipment classes. Not only do the dates vary among these equipment classes, but there are multiple refrigerant options available within each specific application. And as these HFC phase-down timelines approach, we expect that the EPA will continue to introduce through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program new synthetic alternatives that offer incremental reductions in GWP levels.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and easy to see why the refrigerant issue — including past, current and future options — has proved particularly difficult for our industry to sort out. To help you analyze the available options and evaluate how they will impact you, we’ve assembled a list of refrigerant alternatives per commercial refrigeration application, as defined by EPA equipment classifications.

Future A2L alternatives

To meet the growing demand for lower-GWP refrigerants, chemical manufacturers have developed a new class of synthetic refrigerants called A2Ls with a GWP less than 150. While several manufacturers have submitted these “mildly flammable” blends for SNAP approval, none of these alternatives have yet to be listed as acceptable for use in commercial refrigeration applications by the EPA. A degree of flammability is a result of attempts to reach the very low GWP levels.

A2L Refrigerant designed to replace GWP
ARM-25 R-404A < 150
R-454A R-404A/R-22 238
R-454C R-404A/R-22 148
R-457A R-404A/R-22 139
R-515A HFC-134a 392
R-516A Near drop-in for HFC-134a 131
R-1234yf HFC-134a 1
R-1234ze R-404A/R-22 1

Emerson will continue to closely monitor all regulatory activity and keep you informed of any implications. These updates will likely introduce lower-GWP alternatives — such as the A2Ls discussed herein — that will help the industry continue to evolve toward more energy-efficient and lower life cycle climate performance (LCCP) systems and fluids.

There’s no question that the timing of the HFC status changes will continue to present challenges throughout the commercial refrigeration supply chain. We will continue to keep an eye on these developments and provide guidance about which refrigerants are available to help you make the transition.

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Retail and Foodservice 2025: The Future for Customers, Operators and Facilities

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food retail and food service environments are quickly evolving. As retail stores and restaurants adapt to changing infrastructure and facility requirements, it is important that operators understand where the market is heading and the impact these changes will have on their operations.

To help operators prepare for the future, Emerson commissioned global research firm Euromonitor International to identify trends that will shape the grocery retail and chained foodservice markets through 2025, and determine what impact these developments will have on retail store and restaurant design and infrastructure.

Euromonitor International is the world’s leading independent provider of strategic market research. With more than 40 years experience, the firm has offices around the world, analysts in over 100 countries and market research on every key trend and driver.

The research firm identified five megatrends that will have the strongest impact on retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years:

  1. Digital Shoppers
  2. Focus on Convenience
  3. New Retail Formats
  4. Experiential Retail
  5. Omni-Channel Proficiency

These trends were shared at the Emerson E360 Annual Conference and on a global webcast. Over the next few posts, we will also take a closer look at each one of these trends, beginning with the first one.

Trend: Digital Shoppers

Consumers are becoming more connected, and expecting a connected experience when they interact with brands or purchase products. Currently, 3 in 4 U.S. households own a smartphone, and 47 percent of digital purchases in the United States are made through mobile devices. As the wireless infrastructure strengthens, the Internet becomes omnipresent and the prices of devices come down, these numbers will continue to grow.

We are already seeing a shift with many retailers moving toward mobile engagement with consumers within the store to create a better shopping experience and a stronger customer relationship. Also, more retailers in the U.S. are offering mobile order and pay capabilities to simplify transactions. Some retailers are even going beyond mobile and offering conversational commerce, where for instance, a virtual personal assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa can deliver your item within a short period of time.

So, what should retail and foodservice organizations do in terms of facility management and operations to stay ahead of this trend and customer expectations?

  • Facilities – Overhaul store layout (parking, checkout, dining area, etc.) to drive traffic and attract new trip types and consumers.
  • Supply Chain – Align online and physical inventory and offer real-time tracking of sources and orders to encourage repeat consideration and engage and inform customers.
  • e-Commerce – Implement digital order and payment platforms and offer a personalized, seamless experience to lower costs, reduce errors and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Human Resources – Make sure you have the training that focuses on the right skillsets and staff appropriately based on the different service models to improve customer experience and create stronger brand loyalty.
  • Customer Experience – Train customers for new protocols and offer a streamlined experience to minimize disruptions and serve more customers, faster.

Be sure to join us for our next post, which will take a look at the second megatrend: Focus on Convenience.

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