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Posts from the ‘Refrigerants’ Category

Making Sense of the Current Regulatory Landscape

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article posted in RSES Journal, entitled “Mapping the Refrigerant Regulation Landscape.” Click here to read the article in its entirety.


Waters continue to rage in the current refrigerant regulatory landscape — and the tide doesn’t seem to be letting up. Starting with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) introduction of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 20 in 2015, working up to a plethora of plot twists in the latter half of 2017 and now into 2018, much of the industry has been caught off guard and making on-the-spot adjustments to their operations. Here’s a breakdown of some of the more prominent developments.

DC Circuit Court vacates SNAP Rule 20

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit decided that the EPA had exceeded its authority to require the replacement of HFCs under the Clean Air Act, Section 612. This ruling elicited a number of different responses, including several parties filing petitions for a rehearing en banc of the case, but the court announced that it would deny the intervenor/respondents’ petitions for a rehearing.

More recently, a group of bipartisan senators introduced a bill called the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. If it’s passed, it would entitle the EPA to phase down HFCs used in refrigeration and air conditioning in consultation with the industry, operating in accordance with guidelines set by the 2015 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which the U.S. has yet to ratify.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to vacate Rule 20 as initially enacted does not necessarily signify the end of the EPA SNAP nor represent the global/state legislative efforts yet underway to reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, there are some promising initiatives taking shape.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) plans big phase-downs

CARB’s initial proposal to preserve the federal framework in new retail food refrigeration, food dispensing equipment, air-conditioning chillers and refrigeration vending machines will take effect in 2019. CARB’s second proposal plans to prohibit refrigerants with a GWP of 150 or greater in new stationary refrigeration systems containing 50 or more pounds of refrigerant beginning in 2021.

Canada ratifies Kigali amendment

This ruling, impacting stand-alone refrigeration, centralized refrigeration and chillers, enacts a significant HFC phase-down schedule that will take place over the next few decades. Canada was among the first countries to ratify the Kigali amendment.

E.U. pushes for lower F-gas emissions

The E.U. enacted regulation to control fluorinated greenhouse gas (F-gas) emissions, including HFCs, in 2015; it has yet to stop. The next step of its phase-down schedule, set to take place later this year, will lower the consumption quota from the previous 93 percent of the original baseline to 63 percent.

Energy mandates also play a big role

Energy mandates by the Department of Energy (DOE) are also causing turmoil within the industry, specifically impacting three classes of equipment: commercial refrigeration equipment (CRE), automatic commercial ice makers (ACIM), and walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). CRE have been subject to 2,086 percent energy reductions since March 2017, while ACIM must achieve 525 percent energy reductions; WICF must reach 3,037 percent reductions by 2020.

Opportunity for collaboration

Recent EPA rulings and DOE mandates have been set in place during different time frames, causing headaches for equipment manufacturers and end users alike. Recent regulatory developments present an opportunity to push for coordination and collaboration among all parties to create a more cohesive transition.

Alternative Refrigerants Continue to Rise in Popularity

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I discussed a recent ruling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry trends associated with low global warming potential (GWP) in ACHR News. Read the full article here.


The EPA cannot require HVACR manufacturers to replace what they deem high-GWP refrigerants with lower-GWP replacements. That was the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh on Jan. 27. His decision established that the court will not reconsider an Aug. 8, 2017, opinion that signified the EPA cannot ban hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under Section 612 of the Clean Air Act.

The ruling conceptually overturns a 2015 EPA proposal by former President Barack Obama’s administration to phase out the use of HFCs in retail food refrigeration HVACR applications. While HFCs appear to be around a bit longer than initially anticipated, many compressor manufacturers insist that fact won’t inhibit them from pursuing lower-GWP options in an effort to remain globally competitive and environmentally responsible.

Manufacturers approach refrigerant use from a GWP perspective, viewing refrigerants based upon their region-specific requirements. Customers and end users must make refrigerant decisions based on local regulatory mandates and their own operational objectives. Refrigerant costs, local regulations and GWP will continue to be the primary factors in our decision making.

There are also applicable standards in place that need to be followed which govern the use of flammable refrigerants. These are currently under review, and we’ll monitor any changes that may occur.

Natural refrigerants have been, and will continue to be, an integral part of Emerson’s refrigerant strategy due to the global nature of its customers. Ammonia, propane and CO2 are three natural refrigerants that have long played roles in commercial and industrial refrigeration. With increasing industry demand for lower-GWP refrigerant options, each of these will continue to have a place in our product road map.


[New E360 Webinar] Pioneering Natural Refrigerants: A Grocery Case Study

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Vice President of Marketing , Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Join us for our next E360 Webinar, “Pioneering Natural Refrigerants: A Grocery Case Study” on Thursday, April 26 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.

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Few food retailers have staked their reputation on environmentally friendly practices more than the natural foods industry leader, Whole Foods Market. At the heart of Whole Foods Market’s sustainability initiatives is their pioneering approach to the use of refrigeration architectures based entirely on ultra-low GWP, natural refrigerants — a strategy that makes them one of the first retailers in the United States to embrace propane (R-290) in their stand-alone display cases.

In our next E360 webinar, we will give you an opportunity to hear firsthand from Tristam Coffin, director of sustainability and facilities for Whole Foods Market’s northern California region, as he discusses the factors driving the retailer’s pioneering strategy of natural refrigerant use.

We will also provide an update on the regulations governing the use of R-290, including the potential changes to charge limits and evolving safety standards. Finally, for an OEM perspective, the webinar will feature a leading manufacturer of R-290 stand-alone commercial refrigeration equipment — one which has recently migrated its entire stand-alone product line to R-290.

Webinar attendees will learn:

  • The latest global regulations governing R-290 use
  • Drivers behind Whole Foods’ natural refrigerant strategy and R-290 adoption
  • An OEM perspective on making R-290 the basis of its stand-alone units

Whether it’s low-charge ammonia, CO2 refrigeration architectures or R-290 in stand-alone units, natural refrigerants are becoming more commonplace in commercial refrigeration. For retailers like Whole Foods, these alternatives are part of their mission to conduct environmentally friendly business practices.

This webinar will provide a unique opportunity to gain a 360-degree perspective on the subject of natural refrigerants, from the component manufacturer to the OEM to the end user. If you would like to hear multiple sides of the natural refrigerant story, please join us for this informative webinar on Thursday, April 26 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.


[Webinar Recap] Factors in Evaluating and Selecting Refrigerants

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is based on our most recent E360 Webinar, “Top Retailer Trends for Refrigeration, Controls and Facility Optimization.”


I recently participated in an E360 webinar where we explored trends in refrigeration systems and controls and discussed how they continue to evolve to keep up with changes in consumer preferences, global regulations and market dynamics. The webinar also featured John Wallace, Emerson’s director of innovation, and Andrew Knight, vice president of Henderson Engineers. Together, we presented insights into the factors driving refrigerant selection, controls architectures and design strategies.

The first of these trends is the continuing global transition toward the use of more environmentally friendly refrigerants. When we look at the market dynamics behind this movement, refrigerant selection is one factor among a long list of considerations for food retailers — but one that impacts system architectures, controls and long-term operational goals.

It’s important to keep in mind that food retailers are making refrigerant decisions within an increasingly complex cold chain. As the product journey from farm to fork requires many handling and transportation steps involving multiple intermediaries, the objective of maintaining consistent temperature remains paramount. But, once food arrives in their stores, retailers then face a combination of consumer-driven and operational requirements, including:

  • Producing consistently fresh, high-quality foods
  • Appealing to the growing demand for “experiential retail”
  • Meeting energy efficiency and sustainability objectives

As a result, retailers are making investments in improved shopping experiences, new refrigeration systems and facility management controls.

Natural Refrigerant Architectures

The current regulatory climate has paved the way for the resurgence of natural refrigerants — largely due to their ultra-low global warming and ozone depletion potentials. Commercial and industrial refrigeration manufacturers continue to develop systems that utilize the potential of these gases while mitigating their operating challenges. Among the leading natural refrigerant architectures used in supermarkets are:

  • CO2 booster transcritical — large-capacity system based completely on CO2; ideal for low ambient conditions; high ambient strategies are becoming more viable
  • Indirect chiller with cascade — niche application delivers a fully natural solution for large commercial or industrial applications; capable of utilizing multiple, low-charge refrigerant options, including: naturals, HFOs or A2Ls
  • Distributed — well-suited for smaller applications; allows for multiple refrigerant options (including CO2) and the flexibility to deploy individual systems for low- and medium-temperature suction groups
  • Integrated case (or micro-distributed) — integrates the refrigeration system into the case, typically using a low charge of R-290 (propane); unit condensers connect to a shared water loop for heat management

In our next blog, John Wallace will discuss the crucial role of controls in these systems and how refrigerants influence controls architectures.

Blog 6: New Natural Refrigerant Equipment and System Architectures Come to Small-format

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, CO2 Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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Over the past several years, a dynamic regulatory climate has prompted original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop new equipment and system architectures for small-format retailers. The transition from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with high global warming potential (GWP) to new refrigerant alternatives is underway. These new alternatives must simultaneously offer lower GWP levels and performance efficiencies that meet new environmental and energy targets. Natural refrigerants propane (or R-290) and CO2 (or R-744) are part of a very short list of refrigerants capable of meeting both of those criteria.

R-290 applications

R-290’s flammable (A3) classification and current 150g charge limit have largely restricted its use to smaller systems that utilize fractional horsepower compressors or condensing units. Efforts are currently underway to increase its charge limits. Here’s a look at some of the new R-290 equipment and system architectures.

Stand-alone — R-290 is most commonly found in self-contained display cases that feature a built-in condensing unit in each refrigeration fixture. These cases have been in service for more than a decade in Europe and have become increasingly popular in the U.S. in recent years.

Integrated cases — deployed as an alternative to centralized systems, these large refrigeration cases integrate multiple R-290 compressors on individual 150g circuits. Each compressor has its own supporting system components (e.g., fans, valves, piping, etc.). An increase to the 150g charge limit would greatly simplify equipment design and expand R-290’s application potential.

Micro-distributed architecture — like stand-alone cases, each fixture is designed with its own condensing unit. The difference is, micro-distributed systems are designed to remove exhaust heat from the building through a shared heat rejection/water loop system that extracts the heat from each unit and diverts it to a condenser/cooler on the roof. While store comfort is optimized, operators may expect higher first costs and a slight energy penalty due to the secondary heat exchange design. However, in warmer climates, the removal of exhaust heat from a facility — and the load reduction on its HVAC system — may offset this penalty.

Ice machines — the EPA recently listed R-290 as acceptable for use in ice machines. Choosing which type of ice machine (cuber or flaker) to use is a key design consideration for OEMs, but component manufacturers are offering fractional horsepower compressors to integrate with both types and help with evaporator design.

R-744 applications

R-744 is effective alternative to HFCs in both low- and medium-temperature applications. Its high operating pressure (around 1,300 psig or 90 bar) and low critical point require refrigeration strategies to account for these unique characteristics. Although CO2 is more common in large-format grocery stores, OEMs have begun manufacturing systems and components sized for smaller equipment.

Small, centralized CO2 systems — appropriately sized for small-format applications, these systems are based on existing CO2 architectures (such as cascade and transcritical booster). A typical small system relies on four compressors to supply the complete refrigeration needs of the retailer.

Remote condensing units — many OEMs are manufacturing CO2 condensing units that can serve small-format needs, such as walk-in freezers and coolers. These recently developed solutions will likely become increasingly used in applications in the coming years.

Read the full Accelerate America article on small-format refrigeration applications [pg.18].

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