Every year on April 22, nations around the globe pause to recognize Earth Day and reflect on the importance of preserving the planet’s environment. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the annual Earth Day commemoration; its theme is “climate action”. According to the organization’s website, “Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world inhabitable.” Thus, action is essential for mitigating the damaging impacts of climate change.
For decades, the commercial refrigeration industry has taken a global focus on climate action. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol set out to ban the use of refrigerants with ozone depletion potential (ODP) — and as of today, these efforts have proved extremely effective. But in 2020, our industry has a new environmental mandate: to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP). The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was enacted to do just that; since 2019, 20 countries are participating in these measures. At the same time, other countries have adopted their own HFC phase-down regulations, and states like California are leading the charge here in the United States.
But while the environmental focus is often on refrigerants, it’s important to understand that refrigeration must be evaluated from its total equivalent warming impact (TEWI), which considers both the impacts of refrigerants and the energy efficiency of a system throughout the lifecycle. For decades, Emerson has been committed to promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly refrigeration. Here are five best practices that we promote to achieve greener refrigeration strategies.
Recommission your refrigeration system. Over time, refrigeration systems can drift steadily from their original commissioned performance baselines. It’s important to make sure systems are operating as efficiently as possible before considering any upgrades such as replacing a compressor. Recommissioning returns the system back to its original operating parameters and establishes a necessary baseline from which ongoing improvements can be made.
Implement an energy measurement and verification (M&V) program. The decision to upgrade or replace a compressor must be evaluated from a holistic assessment of the refrigeration system. To gain deeper insights into system performance, we recommend implementing a formal measurement and verification program in tandem with the recommissioning process. An M&V program helps to identify holistic system energy-efficiency data and evaluate individual compressor performance, which operators can use to potentially qualify for an energy incentive program. Participating utilities may offer rebates for replacing inefficient equipment with newer, energy-efficient models.
Retrofit to variable-capacity modulation. After identifying the low- and medium-temperature compressors that are underperforming, the next step would be to upgrade them to enable a variable-capacity compression strategy — either by upgrading to a digitally modulated compressor or adding a variable frequency drive (VFD). Replacing even one fixed-capacity compressor with a variable-capacity digital compressor can result in significant benefits, such as: improved energy efficiencies, precise matching of capacity to changing refrigeration loads, improved case temperature precision, reduced compressor cycling (on/off), and tight control over suction manifold pressures.
Enable low-condensing operation. One often overlooked strategy — which is also factoring into some environmental regulations — is the practice of low-condensing operation (aka floating the head pressure). Instead of operating at a high fixed head pressure regardless of the ambient temperature, low-condensing operation floats the head pressure down as the ambient temperature drops — in the evening, overnight and early morning hours. This best practice utilizes electronic expansion valves (EEVs) that allow for dynamic control so that the system is no longer operating at maximum capacity during periods of cooler ambient temperatures. As a result, compressor capacity increases while wattage consumed decreases. In fact, operators can realize lower costs through energy efficiency ratio (EER) improvements of 15–20% for every 10 °F decrease in head pressure.
Transition to lower-GWP refrigerants. Preparing for the future of refrigeration means transitioning from higher-GWP HFC refrigerants to lower-GWP alternatives. Of course, doing so will require adopting new refrigeration technologies and system architectures. From self-contained, integrated cases which utilize natural, hydrocarbon refrigerants to proven CO2 transcritical booster systems and new distributed micro-booster systems that use lower-GWP refrigerants with familiar operating properties, there are a wide variety of emerging systems capable of addressing the full range of commercial refrigeration applications.
Emerson is committed to developing innovative refrigeration technologies and helping commercial refrigeration stakeholders adopt more sustainable refrigeration strategies. We’re actively developing solutions that address all the best practices listed above, and we’re working to promote future refrigeration technologies that will help our customers meet their unique sustainability goals.
The transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning applications is underway all around the globe. In the United States, ever-evolving state and federal regulations are forcing industry stakeholders to pay close attention to the developments taking place in their regions. Regardless of your specific location or operational requirements, the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants is being phased down in favor of alternatives with lower global warming potential (GWP).
I recently co-hosted an E360 Webinar with Jennifer Butsch, Emerson’s regulatory affairs manager of air conditioning, to discuss the latest regulatory developments and industry trends driving this transition. For those who could not attend this informative session, you can view the webinar in its entirety. And if you need a primer for quickly understanding this transition, I developed the following list to highlight the key points of our discussion:
The refrigerant transition is not new — In the 1980s, scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants — such as R-22 — were contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol Treaty was enacted in 1987 to ban the use of refrigerants with ozone depletion potential (ODP); since then, the hole in the ozone layer has steadily recovered. But the ban on these refrigerants led to the introduction of HFCs — such as R-404A and R-410A — which were then proven to cause global warming. As a result, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was established in 2016 to phase down the use of HFCs; it went into effect in 2019 for its 20 participating member countries.
The transition is a global effort — Even before the Kigali Amendment went into effect, other global regions and countries established their own HFC phase-down regulations. The European Union’s F-Gas regulations, which went into effect in 2014, has led the way on establishing a framework for rulemaking. Environmental Canada enacted its own HFC rulemaking in 2017; many of its requirements went into effect this year.
California takes initiative in the U.S. — In the absence of federal regulations, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has introduced its own HFC phase-down measures, starting with the adoption of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rules 20 and 21. In addition, it is currently working with industry associations and stakeholders to develop proposals to achieve additional GWP reductions by 2030. Many in the industry consider CARB’s proposals among the most ambitious in the world.
States are joining the charge — Following California’s lead, many states have also committed to introduce climate change initiatives, including the reduction of HFCs. Currently, 25 members have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which now represents more than 55% of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy. A few member states have also adopted SNAP Rules 20 and 21 into law; however, each of these states has set forth varying implementation timelines, which will only add complexity to the national regulatory landscape.
New federal regulations are on the horizon — To restore federal guidance pertaining to HFC phase-down regulations, both the Senate and the House have recently introduced new bills, respectively: The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2019, and the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act of 2020. Both bills align with the HFC reduction goals established in the Kigali Amendment and would authorize the EPA to once again regulate HFCs and establish standards for HFC
management (servicing, repair, recovery, recycle, reclaim, etc.). The general consensus throughout the industry is that a standardized federal approach would minimize compliance complexities created by a potential patchwork of state regulations.
The next generation of refrigerants is already here — Many low-GWP alternative refrigerants not only have been developed already, they are being designed to replace HFCs commonly used in specific applications today. These refrigerants offer varying GWP ranges and cover the spectrum of refrigerant safety classifications, from A1 (non-flammable) to A2L (mildly flammable) to A3 (highly flammable) and B2L (toxic, mildly flammable). It’s important to point out that many of the lowest-GWP alternatives are classified as A2L, and thus will require equipment and facility redesigns to meet application and safety standards.
Safety standards and codes are evolving — With the industry moving toward the use of flammable refrigerants, the technical committees and governing bodies who provide guidelines on how to safely use these refrigerants are actively updating safety standards. While these activities are ongoing, it’s important to remember that once established, these standards will take several years to make their way into both model and local codes needed to permit the widespread use of flammable refrigerants. The industry still has more work to do before that becomes a reality.
System architectures are changing — This transition is ushering in a new era of system architectures. To utilize low-GWP refrigerants, reduce refrigerant charges and the potential for leaks, look for the commercial refrigeration industry to shift from traditional centralized systems toward more distributed approaches. Natural refrigerant architectures — such as CO2 transcritical booster and R-290 integrated cases — will also continue to expand. Manufacturers are utilizing familiar booster technologies and components to help end users transition to lower-GWP A1s today and even lower-GWP A2Ls in the future. In trials, these systems have provided significant energy savings with reduced installation costs and refrigerant charges.
While many of us find ourselves at home, we also have a rare window of opportunity to focus on bettering ourselves, both personally and professionally. Emerson Educational Services is committed to helping our customers continue their professional education during this challenging time. Though our in-person training sessions are currently unavailable, we are pleased to offer a wide variety of free online training courses through the remainder of the calendar year.
Whether you’re a contractor, wholesaler, equipment manufacturer or end user, you’ll find ample course material and educational tracks to further your professional development. Regardless of your areas of interest, your team members will gain access to the latest, most up-to-date information on Emerson products and refrigeration equipment, including the following learning plans and associated courses:
Walk-In Refrigeration Learning Plan
Condensers Learning Plan
Refrigeration Rack System Learning Plan
Refrigeration Showcase Learning Plan
Bottle Cooler Learning Plan
Compression: Copeland™ Compressors, Condensing Units, Valves, and System Protectors Learning Plan
Emerson Electronics and Solutions Learning Plan
Dixell Learning Plan
Cooper-Atkins™ Learning Plan
Emerson Enterprise Learning Plan
Register now to participate
To begin taking advantage of this opportunity, follow these three simple steps:
Register for an account using our online training portal at Emerson.com.
During registration, select “Emerson 2020 Promotion” from the Branch Name field.
Log in and begin taking your free online courses at your own pace.
We look forward to the day when we can resume in-person training courses. Until then, we hope these self-paced learning tools will allow you and your teams to maximize your productivity during these trying times. We all agree that right now what’s most important is to stay home and be safe. But just because you’re home doesn’t mean your educational development needs to pause. We hope you’ll register now and begin taking your free online courses today.
The Emerson Supervisory Controls platform can help to improve operational efficiency, drive greater cost savings and enhance environmental conditions for customers and staff alike. Our latest E360 Product Spotlight highlights how Emerson has re-engineered the industry-leading, total-facility controls platform to streamline performance and simplify management tasks.
New Capabilities Take Supervisory Controls to the Next Level
There is no shortage of pressing concerns for operators of small- and large-format grocers, restaurants and convenience stores. Yet in recent years, multiple factors have pushed operational and energy performance to the top of the list.
Tight margins and sustainability goals increasingly call for smarter energy use. A growing shortage of qualified technicians and ever-evolving consumer expectations for convenience further complicate the issue. As a result, the abilities to streamline site performance and simplify facility management are no longer luxuries; they are fundamental to long-term profitability.
In response, Emerson has re-engineered its Supervisory Controls platform to help facility operators achieve a higher level of performance.
Total-facility control made smarter
Supervisory Controls provides building and system management, control, power and simplified operation for refrigeration, HVAC, lighting and other critical equipment and systems. Operations of all sizes rely on the platform for real-time insights into issues that influence operating costs, food safety and customer experiences.
To keep pace with today’s demanding marketplace, we’ve updated our suite of robust, easy-to-use features with capabilities that provide improved visibility and insights into systems and equipment:
Smart Alarms: Alarms are a critical component to maintaining equipment and minimizing system downtime. But a constant stream of unprioritized alerts can degrade productivity. Smart Alarms prioritizes issues using simple language to help operators recognize when immediate action is required. In addition, it generates a list of possible causes and potential resolutions to help operators diagnose the root causes of issues and potentially prevent costly truck rolls.
Site Aggregator: Site Aggregator provides a consolidated view of equipment and systems in facilities that use multiple Supervisory Controllers and/or the E2 Facility Management Controller. Operators can navigate easily and conveniently between controllers from a single location.
Performance Meter: Enterprise-level visibility is essential to fine-tune operations, reduce energy waste and maintenance costs and avoid food safety issues. Performance Meter enables operators to keep a finger on the pulse of their systems by providing access to real-time performance data.
Floor Plans: Floor Plans makes it easy to identify and monitor active alarms in each key facility system by providing 2D and 3D visualizations of the facility’s layout and equipment. The Floor Plans also integrates with Emerson’s Connect+ Enterprise Management software.
These new capabilities build on Supervisory Controls’ existing feature-rich toolset to provide operators with:
Powerful control to manage alerts, alarms, energy use, scheduling, maintenance information, advanced reporting and more
Rapid response to immediate and potential issues
Intuitive navigation that requires no special training for day-to-day operation
Simplified setup to accelerate performance management
A user-friendly interface that makes scheduling, report viewing and screen organization easier
A mobile-optimized solution to provide anywhere/anytime access to data from a mobile device
The food retail and service industry is undergoing a dynamic transformation, and its operators are under tremendous pressure to adjust quickly to changing conditions. Versatility will be key to carving out a competitive space in both the near- and long-term future. That’s why Emerson designed flexibility into the Supervisory Controls platform. It is as equally effective in greenfield applications as selective retrofits and complete remodels. In addition, it can be integrated seamlessly with existing systems to provide operators with the insights they need, where they need them.
Emerson understands the multifaceted challenges that you are up against. Our solutions incorporate emerging technologies with proven expertise to deliver capabilities that support data-driven decision making. Learn more about our latest innovations by reading the full E360 article.
The abilities of small-format food retailers and restaurants to maximize energy savings and refrigeration reliability just keep getting better. Our latest E360 Product Spotlight on the Copeland Scroll™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series highlights how Emerson is helping to provide operators with more control over their energy bills and food safety needs.
When it comes to refrigeration strategies, creative planning is key for small-format supermarkets, convenience stores and foodservice establishments. For these operations, finding the space — both physically and fiscally —to install and maintain standard industry condensing units can require balancing acts, tradeoffs and expensive workarounds.
The Copeland Scroll Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series is changing the equation. Designed specifically for small-format operations, it delivers more precise refrigeration, longer-lasting equipment and lower energy bills. Just as important, its lightweight, slim footprint offers unmatched installation flexibility for space-constrained operations.
Ideal for walk-in coolers, display cases and food preparation areas, the digital X-Line Series combines compression technology with variable-speed fan motor control, large-capacity condenser coils, and smart protection and diagnostics. By building on the Copeland Scroll and X-Line outdoor condensing unit platforms, Emerson packaged its field-proven technology specifically for confined locations and demanding refrigeration requirements.
Superior efficiency and temperature control
The digital X-Line Series enables operators to maintain food at optimum temperature — which can help to lessen food waste, improve food safety and quality while lowering their bottom line. The unit’s superior cooling and energy efficiency are achieved through digital modulation, which maintains much tighter control of case temperatures. Continuous capacity modulation from 20 to 100 percent further reduces compressor cycling and decreases energy consumption. For operators, this translates into:
Substantial annual improvements in energy efficiency
Longer equipment life
Improved product integrity
Higher confidence in food quality and safety
Exceptional reliability and performance safeguards
Built-in CoreSense™ diagnostics and protection helps to safeguard against compressor failures by quickly communicating errors to service technicians. The self-diagnosing system also can make changes to avoid failure, further securing product safety and minimizing equipment downtime.
Inherent installation flexibility
With its slim chassis, lightweight design and wall-mount option, the digital X-Line Series provides greater flexibility for where and how units are installed. This allows operators to maximize their available space while mitigating installation costs. The digital X-line Series is typically tied to multiple evaporators across various applications.
Size isn’t the only factor that limits options. As operators on tight sites and in urban locations well know, noise can also restrict unit selection and placement. But that’s not the case with the digital X-Line Series, which was strategically designed for quiet operation. With noise levels that are practically undetectable, the digital X-Line Series is a natural choice for residential areas, noise-restricted zones and locations where louder units would detract from the customer experience.
Engineered for extreme conditions
The digital X-Line Series may be compact and remarkably quiet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. The unit is designed to operate in harsh and extreme conditions — from low ambient conditions to temperatures up to 120 °F — and it’s resistant to corrosion. CoreSense electronic controls constantly tune and adapt the system for optimum performance and efficiencies in any condition.
Refrigeration strategies that work
Rising energy rates and high customer expectations are making energy performance and floor plan adaptability critical to operational success. At Emerson, we are redefining refrigeration technologies and strategies to help small-format operations be more competitive in their markets. From decreased costs to smarter insights to greater peace of mind, the digital X-Line Series provides versatility and a lower total cost of ownership.
Learn more about how the digital X-Line Series is boosting outdoor condensing unit performance by reading the full E360 article.
Commercial & Residential Solutions is a global innovator of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. www.climate.emerson.com