Skip to content

Archive for

Natural Refrigerant Cooling Trends for 2021

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

I was recently interviewed by Accelerate America to discuss cooling trends for 2021, particularly with respect to the natural refrigerant and sustainable cooling marketplace. The Emerson to Continue Pushing NatRefs article (pages 20-22) also gave our organization an opportunity to discuss some of the specific plans we’re making to support our ongoing commitment to sustainable refrigeration technologies.

There’s little doubt that the installation of natural refrigerant-based systems will continue to increase this year, especially in California, where retailers will be preparing to meet 2022 California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations. Elsewhere, we can also expect many retailers to continue with trials of natural refrigerant systems as potential strategies for meeting their sustainability targets. Whether it is a transcritical CO2 booster system or micro-distributed, R-290 integrated display cases, these architectures give retailers viable options for utilizing refrigerants with the lowest available global warming potential (GWP).

New investments and refrigeration solutions

For our part, Emerson will continue to invest heavily in research and development (R&D), which includes completing the construction of a new transcritical CO2 test lab at our main campus in Sidney, Ohio. This will be our second dedicated CO2 R&D facility, complementing our current CO2 test lab located at The Helix Innovation Center in Dayton, Ohio. These labs are designed to accelerate product development, collaborate with OEM partners and end-user customers, and help deliver simplified CO2 solutions for the industry.

We are also continuing the development of compression technologies, controls and valves for CO2 in commercial refrigeration, including a new rack supervisor CO2 and facility management controller for transcritical CO2 booster systems. These solutions are built with native applications that help to manage not only all of the standard system operational requirements, but also address high ambient strategies while providing enhanced integration with our CO2 case controls. We are also investing in the development of industrial CO2 compressors, including a new heat pump CO2 compressor.

In addition, we will continue to expand our R-290 based compression technologies, valving and electronic controls, including:

  • Copeland™ low-profile scroll portfolio of fixed- and variable-speed technologies that covers a capacity range from ¾ to 4 HP
  • Copeland variable-speed hermetic reciprocating compressor line that utilizes R-290 in fractional horsepower ranges from ⅛ to ⅞ HP

These R-290 solutions will deliver game-changing efficiency and performance improvements for commercial refrigeration reach-in OEMs as well as environmental life sciences, medical and pharmaceutical applications.

The critical role of digital controls

When dealing with CO2-based systems — and even to some degree, R-290 — digital controls are essential for providing basic refrigeration system management and optimizing energy efficiencies. These controls also contribute to a data stream that operators can leverage in analytics software to detect trends, automate decision making, and drive system performance.

Through the combination of our controls and compressor platforms, we are helping retailers to integrate their entire heating, refrigeration and air conditioning systems. For example, our E2 facility management controller, new CO2 rack supervisor controller and CO2 compressors — which include parallel compressor applications rated to operate at higher suction pressures — are capable of handling not only refrigeration requirements but also incorporating air conditioning systems.

COVID-19 impacts on retrofits and remodels

As the result of the increased food retail sales volumes, previously planned retrofit and remodel projects — either to improve energy efficiencies or transition to lower-GWP refrigerants — may continue to be temporarily placed on hold. The majority of remodeling efforts taking place during these high-volume periods are to provide mission-critical system improvements.

One such mission-critical area where retailers are investing in new refrigeration technologies is in support of emerging e-commerce fulfillment capabilities. While this may also divert attention away from planned retrofits, we expect to continue helping our end-user customers deploy new refrigeration equipment to augment their current systems to meet click-and-collect fulfillment requirements.

 

 

Factors Which Drive Innovations Toward the Next Generation of Refrigeration System Design

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the retail food industry’s collective focus on food quality, safety and sanitation in supermarkets while driving consumer adoption of click-and-collect. At the same time, industry regulations impact retailer behaviors. These factors have brought more attention upon refrigeration systems. In a recent Progressive Grocer article (pages 76–80), I explored how refrigeration products, monitoring and sensing devices can support these initiatives.

Impacting food quality and safety

A grocer’s approach to refrigeration is a fundamental part of creating ideal shopping experiences for consumers. Starting with the configuration of the display cases, merchandising strategies are designed to present food in the most appealing ways. Many cases are now equipped with enhanced controls that turn on lights when a shopper approaches. By leveraging case controls and the internet of things (IoT) technologies, retailers can more effectively keep perishable foods within ideal temperature ranges, thus positively impacting food quality and safety while maximizing shelf life.

Continued improvements in data analytics and cloud-based, IoT technologies are enabling connectivity among equipment and devices, which will allow retailers to achieve much greater holistic controls of not only their refrigeration assets, but also other key facility systems, such as HVAC and lighting. These are areas in which Emerson has invested significant resources and will continue to do so in the future.

Closely related to that are the abilities to monitor and track the temperatures and locations of perishable foods throughout various steps along the cold chain journey.

Acceleration of click-and-collect

If what we’ve seen in 2020 is any indication, the supermarket industry can expect the continued adoption of online fulfillment options. This change in consumer shopping preferences will continue to drive innovations in the next generation of refrigeration system design.

With the growing popularity of click-and-collect, retailers are adding capacity specifically for these cold-storage purposes. With variable-capacity modulation capabilities that can adapt to changing load variations, the Copeland™ digital X-Line series provides refrigeration flexibility and reliability in click-and-collect applications. In addition, its onboard controls can be networked into a supermarket’s building management system (BMS) for complete refrigeration control and monitoring.

Our facility management controls (E2) and enterprise software (Connect+) also help retailers to remotely monitor their refrigeration assets, optimize system performance, and provide data-driven, proactive alerts of potential equipment issues.

The role of regulations

The regulation of refrigerants continues to be a source of great uncertainty for our industry. For several years, regulations have targeted the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to reduce carbon emissions and their potential contribution to climate change. Many retailers face global, national and state regulatory mandates that ban the use of refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) and call for the deployment of energy-efficient refrigeration equipment. As a result, the industry is undergoing a shift toward alternative refrigerants with lower GWP levels and no ozone depletion potential (ODP).

All of this has helped to bring low-GWP refrigeration solutions into the spotlight, and Emerson supports a wide range of options for retailers along the sustainability continuum.

Whether it’s natural refrigerants like CO2 or propane, or lower-GWP synthetic A1 or A2L blends, Emerson equipment is designed to cover the full spectrum of refrigerant preferences in various types of architectures. It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this refrigerant transition; food retailers are employing a wide range of strategies, depending on their unique regulatory and sustainability mandates.

Many operators simply may not immediately require a drastic reduction in refrigerant GWP and instead are seeking a more gradual transition toward their future sustainability goals. We are helping these retailers to develop equipment strategies that will allow them to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants today, while giving them a pathway for achieving reduced GWP levels in the future.

Energy regulations are also in play, and Emerson is committed to helping the industry meet Department of Energy (DOE) efficiency targets for commercial refrigeration equipment. For example, our recent launch of the Copeland digital X-Line series is designed to meet the DOE’s annual walk-in energy factor (AWEF) efficiency standards for walk-in coolers. These products can also help operators in the state of California to comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements for small-format grocery and convenience stores. The X-Line series utilizes low-GWP R-448A and is designed to service a limited number of medium- or low-temperature refrigeration fixtures — making it ideal for small, urban store formats or large supermarkets seeking to add refrigeration loads outside of their existing direct expansion (DX) systems.

Innovation throughout the cold chain

Leveraging the power of IoT, operational data and the software that can extract insights and value from this information will also play much larger roles in future supermarket refrigeration strategies. To that end, continued efforts to achieve connectivity throughout the various links of the cold chain will allow supermarkets to gain much greater control of food quality and safety well before it reaches the shelves of grocery stores.

 

 

Grow Your Bottom Line With Sustainable Refrigeration Retrofits

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Across the food retail market, supermarket operators are re-evaluating their legacy refrigeration architectures. A dynamic mix of regulatory mandates, sustainability goals and the emergence of e-commerce fulfillment models are dictating changes in the status quo of refrigeration. We recently published an article in the RSES Journal that discussed refrigeration retrofit strategies that allow retailers to meet their sustainability objectives while improving their bottom lines.

When considering refrigeration retrofits, food retailers must remember that sustainability is a two-sided coin. While reducing leaks of global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants is important for lowering direct emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), many supermarket operators often overlook the potential for indirect GHG emissions caused by poor system energy efficiencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that supermarkets are the most electricity-intensive of all commercial buildings. Commercial refrigeration systems account for 40–60% of supermarket energy consumption and are by far the greatest contributor to indirect GHG emissions. Combined, direct and indirect emissions make up the true measure of sustainability, or a system’s total equivalent warming impact (TEWI).

Reduce direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants

The transition from high-GWP refrigerants and those with ozone depletion potential (ODP) is inevitable. Common legacy refrigerant options such as the HFC R-404A will be phased down while hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as R-22 are being phased out. But this does not necessarily mean operators should immediately transition to an alternative refrigerant or embark on a complete refrigeration rebuild.

Lower-GWP A1 refrigerants, such as the hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blend R-448A/R-449A, are available that allow end-users to retrofit their existing system, reduce GWP from direct emissions by up to 60%, and still maintain a familiar operational footprint similar to the one they have today.

For those operators currently using R-22, the transition to R-448A/R-449A is relatively straightforward and requires very few substantive architecture changes. The transition from R-404A to R-448A/R-449A is slightly more involved but can still be accomplished without significant architectural changes. R-448A/R-449A produces compressor discharge temperatures that run approximately 10–12% higher than R-404A. This may require additional compressor cooling mitigation such as head cooling fans, demand cooling modules, or a liquid or vapor injected scroll compressor. Consult your compressor OEM’s guidelines for specific retrofit procedures.

Improve system energy efficiencies

Any system retrofit or upgrade comes at a cost, so food retailers must ensure their investment delivers long-term viability and returns to their bottom line. This is where reducing indirect emissions by improving energy efficiencies plays such an important role. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that every dollar saved in electricity is equivalent to increasing sales by $59.

While it makes sense to undertake energy-efficiency measures in conjunction with a refrigerant transition, energy optimization best practices can — and should — be performed periodically on all systems. Before considering any retrofit options, start by performing a system assessment to determine your current performance metrics — which in many cases will deviate significantly from the system’s original commissioned baseline.

The next logical step in the energy optimization process is to enable a variable-capacity modulation strategy by either upgrading to a digitally modulated compressor or adding a variable-frequency drive (VFD) to a fixed-capacity compressor. Variable-capacity modulation provides significant system improvements, not just to energy efficiency but also to overall refrigeration system performance, reliability and lifespan. Benefits include:

  • Precise matching of capacity to changing refrigeration loads
  • Tight control over suction manifold pressures, allowing increased setpoint and energy savings
  • Improved case temperature precision
  • Reduced compressor cycling (on/off)

In digital compressor retrofit scenarios, we’ve demonstrated that replacing an underperforming, fixed-capacity compressor with a variable-capacity compressor can result in an additional 4% energy savings — even before activating digital modulation capabilities. And once digital modulation is activated, operators can expect an additional 12% energy savings.

Whether you’re trying to reduce your direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants or seeking to improve energy efficiencies and lower your indirect emissions, Emerson has compression technologies and sustainable refrigeration solutions to help you meet your specific objectives. The Copeland™ digital semi-hermetic and Copeland™ digital scroll compressors provide opportunities to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants and enable variable-capacity modulation to drive energy efficiencies.

How to Comply With DOE Standards on Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

Julie Havenar | Product Marketing Manager
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

In 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) passed its final rule on new energy conservation standards for walk-in coolers and freezers (WICFs). The ruling mandated new efficiency requirements on WICFs with dedicated condensing systems in both low- and medium-temperature applications. With enforcement of these requirements now having taken effect, I recently published an article for Contracting Business that explained the implications of the DOE’s ruling. View the full article here and read a summary of it below.

Per the ruling, 20–40 percent energy reductions are now required on WICFs smaller than 3,000 square feet manufactured after the following enforcement dates:

  • January 1, 2020, for WICFs with medium-temperature dedicated condensing systems
  • July 10, 2020, for WICFs with low-temperature dedicated condensing systems

Now that enforcement dates are here, industry stakeholders are tasked with verifying that they are achieving compliance with the DOE’s WICF rule.

Who and what does the ruling apply to?

The ruling directly applies to anyone manufacturing, producing, assembling or importing to certify WICF components. From a refrigeration system standpoint, compliant components refer to dedicated and packaged condensing units (indoor and outdoor) used in both new and retrofit applications, including:

  • Condensing units that are assembled to construct a new WICF
  • Condensing units used to replace an existing, previously installed WICF component (retrofit)
  • Condensing units used within packaged systems

Other components — such as unit coolers (evaporators), doors, panels and lighting — are also within the jurisdiction of the DOE’s WICF ruling.

Contractors and wholesalers can still use and stock condensing units that were manufactured before the DOE enforcement dates. All newly manufactured condensing units must be compliant if intended for use in applicable WICF applications, as defined by the DOE’s ruling.

How can you measure efficiency and achieve compliance?

The DOE uses a metric created by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) called the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF) to evaluate a WICF system’s energy efficiency. This AWEF calculation is based on “a ratio of the total heat, not including the heat generated by the operation of refrigeration systems, removed, in Btu, from a walk-in box during a one-year period of usage for refrigeration to the total energy input of refrigeration systems, in watt-hours, during the same period.”

Per the DOE, there are several WICF equipment classes below the 3,000 square foot limit that must meet or exceed the minimum AWEF ratings based on capacity and application (e.g., medium- or low-temperature, indoor or outdoor). Condensing unit manufacturers and WICF original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must follow approved AWEF testing and certification procedures to meet or exceed the DOE standards.

How will the ruling impact you?

From OEMs and wholesalers to contractors and end users, the DOE’s WICF ruling has broad impacts throughout the industry. Because the DOE WICF ruling impacts both new and retrofit equipment, every segment of the commercial refrigeration supply chain will need to understand its implications. Here’s what you need to know:

  • OEMs —need to complete the engineering design cycle, testing and certification to sell new compliant equipment.
  • Contractors —must understand that if they replace a condensing unit with one manufactured after the DOE enforcement dates, it must be an AWEF-compliant unit. However, units manufactured prior to the DOE’s enforcement dates already in inventory may still be used.
  • Wholesalers —must be prepared for changing inventories and begin to carry only AWEF-compliant condensing units that were manufactured after the 2020 enforcement dates for the relevant WICF applications.
  • Design consultants —must be well-versed in the regulatory impacts to advise end users in the selection of energy-compliant, sustainable systems.
  • End users —need to select future-proof equipment that aligns with their long-term refrigeration strategies.

How is Emerson helping OEMs?

As a manufacturer of condensing units for a wide range of refrigeration applications, we manufacture WICF condensing units that have been certified as meeting the DOE’s minimum AWEF requirements. Compliance data is listed in our condensing unit AWEF product literature.

For WICF OEMs, using certified condensing units will help them meet the compliance requirements in one of their primary refrigeration system components. OEMs should be able to combine an Emerson AWEF-compliant condensing unit with any AWEF-compliant unit cooler in order to achieve compliance in a dedicated system.

So if you’re an OEM of walk-in coolers and freezers, you now need to manufacture WICFs that meet the DOE’s minimum AWEF standards. If you’re not sure how to proceed with this compliance process, you may consult with Emerson’s Design Services Network to expedite your product development, design and testing processes.

With our breadth of products, expertise and resources, we can help you achieve compliance and develop sustainable refrigeration strategies for your customers — and our future.

%d bloggers like this: