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Posts from the ‘E360 Outlook’ Category

Refrigeration Decisions Driven by Diverse Priorities

DonNewlon_V2 Don Newlon | V.P./G.M., Refrigeration Marketing
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Diverse Priorities Continue to Influence Refrigeration Landscape.” Click here to read it in its entirety.


Today, there are as many factors influencing commercial refrigeration decisions as there are system architectures. As the industry continues to be shaped by regulations, emerging technologies and changing technician demographics, it has become more apparent that there is tremendous diversity among end user priorities.

From first costs, refrigerant considerations and sustainability goals to environmental regulations, energy-efficiency targets and maintenance requirements, end users have more drivers influencing equipment selection criteria than ever before. Since each end user values these factors according to their individual priorities, the hierarchy of priorities differs widely from one customer to the next.

Take Whole Foods Market, for example, a food retailer known for pioneering the use of all-natural refrigeration systems. By using CO2 and R-290 instead of synthetic hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in their Santa Clara, Calif., location, the grocer is seeking to leave the smallest possible carbon footprint while meeting its energy-efficiency targets. All other criteria are secondary.

But for operators in other parts of the country, where energy costs are lower and environmental mandates are less demanding, a more traditional HFC system with lower first costs and more familiar maintenance protocols may be preferred. The same may be said for those who are intimidated by the increased complexities or relative “unknowns” of new system architectures.

If there’s anything we can be certain of, it’s that the refrigeration landscape will continue to change. You may have read about a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had exceeded the authority of its Clean Air Act in its efforts to limit the use of HFCs in commercial refrigeration. While some may support the court’s ruling, others who believe the process of phasing down HFCs is already well underway are calling for an appeal. As of now, we’ll have to wait and see what the true implications of this ruling will be.

Already in Europe, where F-gas regulations limit the use of high global warming potential refrigerants, the price of HFCs is on the rise as supplies dwindle. This is also indicative of how regional idiosyncrasies throughout the world also factor into refrigeration decisions, as the potential of carbon taxes, refrigerant price hikes and local climates must also be considered.

To be sure, there currently is no one-size-fits-all approach to commercial refrigeration. Our goal is not to favor one architecture over another, but to help end users balance this difficult equation for themselves — and based on their unique priorities, take the best approach.

Seven Keys to Servicing CO2 Systems

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, CO2 Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Keys to Servicing CO2 Systems.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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From a service technician’s perspective, CO2 has unique performance characteristics and operating peculiarities that dictate system design and impact maintenance requirements. Following are seven key considerations to be aware of when servicing CO2 systems.

  1. Low critical point (subcritical vs. transcritical) — R-744 has a relatively low critical point (1,055 psig or 87.8 °F) that determines its modes of operation. Subcritical mode refers to systems operating in regions with colder climates and lower ambient temperatures where the refrigeration cycle takes place below 87.8 °F. Transcritical mode takes place above this point (also referred to as supercritical) such as in warmer regions or periods during the summer heat.
  2. Higher operating pressure — one of the common reservations when using CO2 is its relatively high operating pressure. But, it’s important to realize that high pressure only takes place in the beginning stages of the refrigeration cycle while the rest of the refrigeration cycle operates at pressures like that of a traditional R-410A high-side system. Stainless steel piping is typically used to handle these pressures, although high-pressure ferrous alloy copper piping has recently been introduced.
  3. High triple point (possibility of dry ice formation) — triple point is the point at which the three phases of CO2 coexist (60.4 psig or -69.8 °F). While the temperature seems low, the pressure is relatively high by refrigerant standards. As the pressure approaches that point in CO2 systems, the refrigerant will turn to dry ice (an unusable state that’s neither a vapor nor a liquid). This can occur during maintenance when a contractor mistakenly thinks the lines are clear, taps the system and discovers the formation of dry ice.
  4. System charging — the high triple point affects R-744’s charging procedures. After pulling a vacuum, the internal pressures of the system will be well below 60.4 psig. Since standard atmospheric pressure is 14.696 psig, the process cannot start with liquid charging. Instead, contractors must vapor-charge the system (roughly to around 145 psig), and then wait until the system has equalized with 145 psig of vapor before charging with liquid.
  5. Managing scheduled shutdowns and power outages — when a CO2 system shuts down for longer periods of time, pressures will build more quickly than in an HFC system. To preserve the system charge, the most reliable method is to install a generator with a standby condensing unit. When the power goes out, the generator powers a condensing unit that has a loop within the flash tank (i.e., receiver) designed to cool the volume of liquid within the tank and keep pressures down.
  6. Resumption of power — the electronic expansion valve (EEV) on every CO2 case utilizes a stepper motor or a pulse-width modulated type of valve. When the power goes out, the stepper motor is frozen in that exact position, leaving the system’s CO2 evaporators susceptible to flooding. R-744 naturally migrates quickly to these cold evaporators, and when the system resumes, this can cause considerable damage to compressors. To avoid this, liquid line solenoids placed upstream of the EEV, supercapacitors or battery backups are often used on case controls to force the valves closed during a power outage.
  7. Form a refrigerant plan — managing CO2 is different from what contractors may be accustomed to with traditional HFCs. Operators and contractors alike need to understand the local codes for storing R-744 cylinders (inside or outside the building), and develop an appropriate strategy.

Mining Apprenticeship Opportunities to Bridge the Refrigeration Gap

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Apprenticeship Opportunities.” Click here to read it in its entirety.


Through our E360 Outlook magazines and E360 Forums, my colleague Bob Labbett and I have talked at length about the growing technician shortage facing our industry; it’s something we refer to as the refrigeration gap. After facilitating many conversations with stakeholders to address this challenge, we have formed the basis of a solution that focuses on four key areas: awareness, recruitment, training and retention. But we are always looking for creative ways to achieve these objectives.

A recent announcement by the Trump administration about doubling the budget of the federal apprenticeship program piqued our curiosity. Not only were we largely unaware of the program, we were intrigued about its potential for addressing our industry’s technician shortage. To learn more, we put two summer interns at The Helix to work on researching feasibility of the program. Here’s what we dug up.

Relatively low HVACR participation

After poring through the Department of Labor’s (DOL) apprenticeship section of their website, one of the first things we discovered was that HVACR participation in the program was quite low. While there were more than 200,000 active participants in Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs in 2016, HVACR only accounted for 3,135 of these. Electricians topped this list with 41,489 active apprentices. We quickly realized that our industry has a runway of opportunity that is largely untapped.

Federally funded, state operated

Another key fact we uncovered about the program is that “the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) works in conjunction with independent State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) to administer the program nationally.” What this means is that RA programs are enacted at the state level after meeting the DOL’s apprenticeship standards. What’s more, an individual employer, group of employers, or an industry association can also sponsor an RA program, sometimes in partnership with a labor organization.

Technical schools and colleges play a vital role

The OA is also focused on helping educators build college-to-career pipelines in a variety of occupations through the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC). RACC is a national network of post-secondary institutions, employers, unions and associations working to create opportunities for apprentice graduates who may want to further enhance their skills by completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Even high school-level vocational institutions and career centers can get involved in pre-apprenticeship programs to help students explore career opportunities and become an apprentice while they’re still in high school.

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.

Grocer’s New CO2 Refrigeration System Earns EPA GreenChill award

 AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, CO2 Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes a success story in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Natural Born Chillers.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Natural refrigerant adoption is on the rise in the U.S., and forward-thinking supermarket retailers are leading the charge. Driven by corporate sustainability objectives and the desire to achieve EPA and DOE regulatory compliance, some operators are turning to eco-friendly options like CO2 to reduce their carbon footprint. Such is the case with New Seasons Market, a northwestern U.S. grocer that was recently awarded the EPA’s GreenChill Platinum Certification in its newest store for installing a transcritical CO2 booster system.

In many ways, sustainability is in New Seasons’ DNA. They partner with local farmers, ranchers and producers to offer the best of the region, and sell homegrown, organic favorites along with traditional grocery store staples. With 20 locations in the states of Washington, Oregon and California, the chain’s recently launched 37,000-square-foot store in Mercer Island, Wash., was the first to earn this distinction from the EPA.

New Seasons partnered with its engineering firm to develop a natural refrigeration system that would meet the sustainability objectives for the new location. The system, which is based on the Hussmann Purity platform, features Emerson’s compression and system controls technology, including:

  • Transcritical CO2 rack — consists of six compressors — three of which are low-temperature Copeland Scroll Digital™ CO2 compressors — with digital capacity modulation to provide energy-efficient refrigeration for the entire store. The system is charged with 1,100 pounds of CO2 (R-744).
  • Roof-mounted gas cooler — a gas cooler utilizes energy-efficient, low-velocity, variable-frequency drive (VFD) fans to reduce overall energy usage.
  • Controls — An E2 RX refrigeration controller manages the system in conjunction with Emerson case controls in the store fixtures. These tools enable the ease of system setup while ensuring ongoing performance optimization, maintaining consistent temperatures throughout the store, minimizing product shrink and preserving food quality.

The EPA GreenChill Platinum Certification recognizes New Seasons’ efforts in revamping the store’s refrigeration system — an HFC system installed by the previous retailer at this location — to a CO2 architecture that reduced refrigerant emissions by at least 95 percent.

The success of the Mercer Island store has opened the door for additional CO2 systems. Their leadership is currently planning the construction of two new stores in 2018 that will also rely on transcritical CO2 booster system architectures.

This blog summarizes a success story in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Natural Born Chillers.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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