Skip to content

Posts from the ‘E360 Outlook’ Category

Why Whole Foods Made R-290 Integral to its Refrigeration Strategy

 

AllenWicher Allen Wicher | Director, Foodservice Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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

9760-E360_Outlook_September-2017-Pioneering_Natural_Refrigeration_Facebook-1200x630

When it comes to the use of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration, Whole Foods Market (WFM) is a true pioneer in the U.S. food retail space. Even before the recent wave of regulations prompted retailers to look for more eco-friendly alternatives, WFM was deploying sustainable refrigeration systems with the intent of reducing harmful environmental impacts and improving energy efficiencies. Today, 22 of its 465 stores utilize all-natural refrigerant systems, with most of them moving to the hydrocarbon R-290 (propane) for their self-contained cases.

According to Tristam Coffin, WFM’s director of sustainability & facilities for its Northern California region, refrigeration comprises roughly one-third of their total energy usage. Their commitment to moving to natural refrigerants arose out of a desire to lower energy consumption and reduce the potential for direct environmental impacts from refrigerant leaks.

But figuring out a natural solution for their self-contained cases presented a unique challenge for the company. When they first started looking for R-290 case manufacturers in 2013, AHT Cooling Systems USA was among the refrigeration equipment manufacturers offering R-290 units. AHT National Sales Manager Howell Feig said that developing R-290 products for the European market enabled AHT to help early adopters in the U.S.

Since 2013, WFM has deployed R-290 self-contained cases across the company’s entire network of stores. Currently, 50 to 60 stores per year are migrating to R-290 as replacements to HFC units, either in new stores or in new programs.

“While these units make up less than 10 percent of our overall refrigeration footprint, they have hit a home run for us in that they’re 10 percent more efficient in most instances, and they’re using a natural refrigerant,” Coffin said.

Both Feig and Coffin believe that the U.S. food retail industry is slowly shifting toward R-290 use in self-contained cases. From AHT’s perspective, Feig explained that early adopters like Whole Foods Market have served as a proof of concept for less progressive retailers. As a result, adoption has increased to the point where AHT will transition its entire equipment platform to R-290 by the end of this year.

The 150g charge limit of R-290 systems largely restricts its usage to these low-charge, self-contained units. While the standards governing the safe use of R-290 are currently under review, Feig and Coffin agreed that a charge limit increase would open new opportunities that aren’t currently possible. Raising the limit to 500g would allow R-290 to be used in open-door cases as well as walk-in coolers and freezers. This prospect could potentially even allow for a full-store solution of self-contained R-290 cases, which would be particularly advantageous in smaller urban locations where space constraints prevent the use of centralized racks.

More Food Retailers Opt for Natural Refrigerant 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 Natural Selection.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

9760-E360_Outlook_September-2017-Natural_Selection_Facebook-1200x630_v2

One of the most complex decisions food retailers have today is selecting which refrigerant will serve as the basis of future refrigeration platforms. While there are very few refrigerants that can deliver regulatory compliance and align with corporate sustainability goals, three natural options are at the top of this short list: carbon dioxide (CO2 or refrigerant name R-744); the hydrocarbon propane (refrigerant name R-290); and ammonia (NH3 or refrigerant name R-717).

In recent decades, as synthetic chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants were found to have either ozone depletion potential (ODP) or global warming potential (GWP), natural refrigerants have made their way back into the commercial refrigeration conversation — even being listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as acceptable for use in most commercial refrigeration applications (subject to use conditions).

Make no mistake: these refrigerants are by no means perfect — each has its own caveats — but in terms of thermodynamic properties, operational efficiencies and eco-friendliness, natural refrigerants are often referred to as “future proof”.

Innovative installations

As modern refrigeration technologies continue to improve, equipment manufacturers are working closely with early adopters to develop innovative solutions. This has resulted in several creative natural refrigeration applications that belie their traditional uses — like ammonia being used in supermarket systems and CO2 playing a larger role in industrial process cooling.

Ammonia trials in food retail
In September 2015, the Piggly Wiggly supermarket company opened a new 36,000 square-foot store in Columbus, Ga., that utilizes an NH3/CO2 cascade system manufactured by Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration. The all-natural refrigerant system uses an ultra-low charge of ammonia (53 pounds) located away from occupied spaces (on the facility’s roof).

CO2 adoption in industrial cooling
In cold storage applications, where ammonia has been the preferred refrigerant for decades, companies are also seeking to lower ammonia charges. As older ammonia systems near replacement, many operators are determining the best option to expand their facility’s low-temperature capabilities. They’re accomplishing this by adopting NH3/CO2 cascade systems that not only utilize very low charges of ammonia, but also keep the R-717 circuit out of occupied spaces.

Propane in food retail
When major retailers like Target publicly announce their intentions to use only propane in their self-contained units, it’s an indication that the perceptions about the mainstream viability of R-290 are shifting. The smaller charge limits make R-290 a logical fit for Target’s smaller, stand-alone refrigerated display cases and coolers.

While efforts are needed to mitigate their associated risks and ensure their safe use, natural refrigerants represent true sustainable alternatives that do not sacrifice performance. As regulatory bodies and industry organizations work to refine these standards, natural refrigerants will continue to play a key role in the future of commercial and industrial refrigeration

How to Create a Machine-learning Model in Your Enterprise in Six Simple Steps

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Applying Machine Learning for Facility Management.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

9760-E360_Outlook_September-2017- Applying Machine Learning_Facebook-1200x630

Machine learning is a subfield of computer science that refers to a computer’s ability to learn without being programmed. Although machines should be able to learn and adapt through experience, human interaction is still needed to produce desired results. Today, many facility management applications — for refrigeration and HVAC systems, for example — have taken a supervised learning approach that utilizes historical data to train an algorithm and predict an outcome from a series of inputs.

To create your own supervised-learning model, businesses can take these relatively simple six steps:

  1. Define the problem. It’s critical to have a keen idea of the problem you are trying to predict or solve, and establish well-defined goals of the application.
  2. Develop a data collection strategy. Data collection is achieved via inputs from a variety of information, including: temperatures, pressures, on-off activities (from motors, etc.) as well as the actions that result from these inputs. Your goal will be to predict the action that will occur for a given set of inputs. Data will be used to both train the learning model and validate the model’s performance.
  3. Create machine-learning models. Based on the training data collected and available inputs, you can create a machine-learning model that uses specific algorithms (math) to predict an action. Since different types of models may perform better or worse for a particular data set, you might need to create multiple models (different math) and then pick the one that performs best based on your data.
  4. Establish a standard. How closely does your model predict the action or result that came out of your training data? A perfect model would anticipate the result every time. While that usually doesn’t happen, the goal is to get as close as possible to achieving the desired results, and then use that model as a standard moving forward.
  5. Test the validation data. Based on the validation data from step two, evaluate the performance of your model. If the validation data doesn’t match up, you may need to step back and select a different training model, and then validate the data again. This is an intricate process. When and if the results do not match expectations, you may have to start from the beginning. Make sure you are collecting the right types of data before running the process again.
  6. Utilize the machine-learning model. Upon completion of your efforts, you should have a model that can be used to predict an action or result based on the available inputs. At some point, input parameters may change or another system modification may be required; in this event, you will need to go back periodically and update the model based on new data.

New Copeland Scroll™ Compressors Help Address Foodservice OEM Challenges

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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

9760-E360_Outlook_September-2017-Less is More_Facebook-1200x630

Foodservice refrigeration equipment manufacturers will have a complex regulatory landscape to navigate in the coming years. In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be phasing out the use of R-404A in new remote condensing units for walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). Then, the Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed the enforcement of its new WICF efficiency mandate in 2020, as measured by the annual walk-in efficiency (AWEF) standard. The challenge for foodservice OEMs is to design new condensing units and stand-alone equipment that comply with both requirements.

Emerson’s new ¾ to 1½ horsepower (HP) offerings extend the existing Copeland Scroll ZF*KA and ZB*KA compressor lines, allowing OEMs to combine compliance into a single design cycle for smaller low- and medium-temperature applications.

With the EPA’s proposed phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with higher global warming potential (GWP), new refrigeration platforms must be designed to accommodate the performance characteristics of lower-GWP alternatives. Accordingly, our new fractional HP Copeland Scroll compressors are rated for use with new alternatives R-448A/449-A as well as existing lower-GWP HFCs such as R-407A.

Liquid-injected for low-temperature efficiencies

Walk-in freezers that rely on outdoor condensing units will require compressors that can mitigate the higher discharge temperatures produced when using new refrigerant alternatives in low-temperature applications. The Copeland Scroll ZF*KA fractional HP models utilize liquid-injection technology to cool discharge temperatures and reduce compressor stress. Compared to hermetic reciprocating compressors that will require additional modifications and heat-reduction strategies, Copeland Scroll technology is well-suited for these low-temperature scenarios.

Copeland Scroll ZF*KA fractional HP compressors are the basis of Emerson’s X-Line outdoor condensing unit, enabling it to simultaneously meet both DOE (AWEF efficiency) and EPA (lower-GWP refrigerant) requirements in low temperatures.

Wide applicability in medium temperatures

For medium-temperature, walk-in coolers, the new fractional HP ZB*KA compressors deliver enhanced AWEF efficiencies in WICF condensing units. It’s important to note that incumbent hermetic reciprocating compressors cannot achieve the same efficiencies without modifications to other system components (e.g., coils, cooling fans, etc.). Patented Copeland Scroll technology enables significant efficiency improvements in medium-temperature WICF applications without investments in additional components or incurring engineering, design and development (ED&D) costs.

The new ZB*KA compressors represent an extension of the medium-temperature line of compressors to better serve today’s wide range of walk-in cooler requirements. OEMs can now integrate reliable Copeland Scroll technology into their complete lineup of walk-in refrigeration equipment, while achieving compliance with environmental and energy-efficiency regulations.

By addressing both EPA and DOE compliance requirements, fractional HP Copeland Scroll compressors help simplify the design cycles for foodservice refrigeration OEMs.

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.

9760-E360_Outlook_September_2017_Refrigeration_Decisions_Blog

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.

%d bloggers like this: