Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Refrigerants’ Category

Blog 2: Regulatory climate leads to inventive uses of natural refrigerants

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, CO2 Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

10194-E360_Facebook_2-ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE_12...

Today, more supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores are re-evaluating natural refrigerants to comply with environmental regulations and achieve sustainability objectives. As refrigeration technology continues to improve, equipment manufacturers are working closely with these forward-thinking companies to develop innovative solutions. These efforts have resulted in several creative natural refrigerant applications that expand upon their traditional uses in commercial refrigeration.

For example, the idea of using ammonia (NH3 or refrigerant name R-717) in food retail is relatively unheard of — until recently. In 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 on the facility’s roof — away from occupied spaces and virtually eliminating any safety concerns. The innovative system earned the retailer the highest certification level (platinum) from the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership, making it only one of 10 supermarkets in the U.S. to receive the award. It’s also the fourth supermarket in the U.S. to use this NH3/CO2 cascade architecture.

In cold storage applications, where ammonia has been the preferred refrigerant for decades, companies are increasingly looking to carbon dioxide (CO2) to proactively lower ammonia charges and avoid regulatory entanglements. So, as older ammonia systems near replacement, many operators are evaluating 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 is also making comeback, so much so that Target recently announced their intentions to use only propane in their self-contained units. Many other retailers have followed suit, implementing R-290 units as part of their refrigeration portfolios. It’s an indication that the mainstream perceptions about the viability of R-290 are shifting. Its lower charge limits make R-290 a logical fit for Target’s smaller, stand-alone refrigerated display cases and coolers. All of this is part of the retailer’s pledge to become a sustainability leader in the food retail space.

From strictly environmental or performance perspectives, these new natural refrigerant systems are tough to beat. Of course, there are other important considerations when selecting a commercial refrigeration system — such as safety and maintenance requirements — where natural refrigerants pose unique challenges. But these newer systems are proof of how operators are making the decision to go natural and deal with these challenges. Target, for example, gave its contractor network advanced notice to seek the necessary training before deploying its self-contained, R-290 units.

Often, these new systems are also delivering energy-efficiency improvements. And in many self-contained R-290 units being installed across the country, they are also meeting the DOE’s mandate for energy efficiency. So, for true future-proof refrigeration systems, natural refrigerants are currently the best option available to meet both EPA and DOE regulatory requirements.

Read the full Accelerate America article [pg.16].

 

Blog 1: Why natural refrigerants are playing a larger role in commercial refrigeration

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, CO2 Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

10194-E360_Facebook_1-REFRIGERATION GOES GREEN_1200x630

In an era driven by historic regulatory activity and the necessity to deploy sustainable refrigeration system architectures, more businesses are looking at systems based on natural refrigerants to help them achieve these goals. Unlike the synthetic hydrocarbon (HFC) refrigerants that have commonly been used in refrigeration applications — such as R-404A, R-507A and HFC-134a — ammonia (NH3 or refrigerant name R-717), propane (refrigerant name R-290) and carbon dioxide (CO2 or refrigerant name R-744) are three naturally occurring refrigerants that pose very little threat to the environment.

The direct environmental impacts of refrigerants are measured by two key factors: global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) — while their indirect impacts are measured by energy efficiency. While new synthetic refrigerants are being developed that offer lower GWP and no threat to the ozone layer, many of them are either largely untested or have yet to be deemed as acceptable substitutes by global environmental regulations, such as those set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In contrast, natural refrigerants are not only the benchmark for ultra-low GWP and ODP, they’re also acceptable for use in most refrigeration applications (subject to use conditions).

Let’s start by looking at the historic usage and performance characteristics of these natural refrigerants.

Ammonia
With its superior thermodynamic properties, R-717 was a logical first choice for early refrigeration systems. Classified as a B2L, its toxicity and mild flammability require the careful adherence to safe application procedures. The introduction of lower-risk, synthetic chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants in the mid-twentieth century turned the refrigeration industry away from R-717. Even so, ammonia’s suitability in low-temperature applications has made it a mainstay in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications to this day.

Propane
Propane is a hydrocarbon that was also identified in the early days of refrigeration as an extremely effective refrigerant. Offering high-capacity, energy-efficient performance and a very low GWP (3), its A3 classification (flammable) led to concerns about its safety. And as synthetic refrigerants became available, R-290 was overlooked in favor of its CFC and HFC counterparts. However, since the 2000s, R-290 has been regaining global popularity as a lower-GWP, effective alternative to R-404A and HFC-134a — especially in a wide range of low-charge, reach-in displays.

Carbon dioxide
CO2 is non-flammable and non-toxic and has proved to be a very effective natural alternative to HFCs in both low- and medium-temperature applications. CO2-based refrigeration systems have been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in Europe for nearly two decades. Because of its low critical point and high operating pressure (around 1,500 psig or 103 bar), CO2 refrigeration strategies — such as cascade, secondary and transcritical booster — must be designed to account for its unique characteristics. In light of current environmental regulations, the popularity of these systems has increased significantly in North America in recent years.

Read the full Accelerate America article [pg.16].

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.

9462-E360 Outlook-Propane Compressor-Facebook-1200x630

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.

9462-E360 Outlook-New Ref Alternatives-Facebook-1200x630

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.

Add the Chicago E360 Forum to Your Calendar This October

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

JOIN US in Chicago, Ill., for our next free E360 Forum on Thursday, October 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare hotel.

We’re excited to bring our next E360 Forum to the hub of the Midwest, Chicago, Ill. This is already shaping up to be another dynamic year for the HVACR industry, and we need your perspectives at this daylong event to make sense of the latest trends and developments. From the growing technician shortage and the introduction of new refrigerants to the dynamic regulatory climate and subsequent system design changes, we’ll explore the complex landscape that lies before us.

The day will be comprised of informative keynote sessions in the morning, leaving the afternoon open for you to choose from four content tracks of interactive breakout sessions. These are designed to give you a chance to get your questions answered and join in a dialogue with experts and peers.

Chicago’s breakout session tracks will focus on applications, regulations, air conditioning and industrial.

9596-EMR-Chicago-CoreMediaEloqua-E360Forum-1200x298

With your participation, the goal of this E360 Forum is to evaluate 2017’s trends and tackle the biggest challenges in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning.

What you’ll experience:

  1. Hear how the HVACR industry is addressing the growing technician shortage
  2. See the latest applications of natural refrigerants
  3. Review timely updates to energy and refrigerant regulations
  4. Learn about what’s on the horizon in the retail and foodservice sectors

E360 Forums have proved to be invaluable events, and we’re providing ample opportunities for you to have one-on-one discussions with experts and peers. Immediately following the breakout sessions, attendees and presenters can mingle at a networking reception from 4–6 p.m. And for those able to join us the evening before the event, we will host a welcome dinner on October 4 from 6–8 p.m. in the Chicago Marriott O’Hare hotel.

We hope you’ll be making plans today to add Chicago’s E360 Forum to your list of must-attend industry events in 2017.

%d bloggers like this: