Charles Larkin | Director of Data and Analytics, Cold Chain
Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business
Within the ever-expanding scope of commercial refrigeration applications, internet of things (IoT) technologies have a wide variety of potential uses. From helping to preserve food safety and quality to implementing smart maintenance programs, IoT programs can be utilized to address some of food retailers’ most critical operational concerns. In an upcoming E360 Webinar, which will take place on Tuesday, July 20 at 2:30 p.m. EDT/11:30 a.m. PDT, we’ll explore how retailers can utilize IoT initiatives and data-driven insights to achieve key operational objectives.
Attendees of this webinar will gain an understanding of IoT fundamentals and learn how hardware and software can combine to deliver valuable information on equipment performance. By utilizing connected sensors on equipment and installing smart control devices, operators can leverage previously untapped data to uncover real-time and historic insights on refrigeration status, performance trends and overall asset conditions.
Then, using advanced software with powerful machine-learning (ML) algorithms, this data can be processed and further analyzed to deliver more predictive insights, identify preventative maintenance (PM) opportunities, and even develop prescriptive maintenance models.
The upcoming webinar will explore how retailers can unlock the vast potential of data within commercial refrigeration applications, such as:
Identifying procedural problems in quick-service restaurants (QSRs) with respect to adherence to their hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) programs
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of implementing digital HACCP programs and/or remote temperature monitoring of refrigeration assets
Developing algorithms for the marine sector to help provide early detection of potential food safety/quality issues during sea transport (and applying these concepts to food retail)
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business
Every year on June 26, Emerson pauses to recognize World Refrigeration Day (WRD) and celebrate the people and technologies responsible for creating and maintaining temperature-controlled environments. To commemorate this year’s WRD, we will be hosting an E360 Webinar on Wednesday, July 7 at 9 a.m. EDT/6 a.m. PDT that will focus on the importance of attracting and recruiting the next generation of HVACR service technicians. Our E360 Webinar will build off the theme of WRD 2021, Cooling Champions: Cool Careers for a Better World, by exploring the emerging career opportunities available in the HVACR technician profession.
For more than a decade, the commercial refrigeration industry has faced a growing challenge finding qualified service technicians to service and maintain an increasingly complex variety of refrigeration architectures. As the previous generation of technicians retire and fewer candidates enter the field, our industry faces an urgent need for a new generation of skilled technicians. Emerson has long been a champion of bridging this career gap by highlighting the abundance of opportunities for young people seeking a viable long-term career path outside of a four-year college education.
This E360 Webinar is part of our continued commitment to solving this industry-wide dilemma. We will begin by discussing related industry trends and highlight the many positive aspects of an HVACR technician career, including:
Leveraging advanced technologies and modern tools
Equipping technicians with skills that allow them to immediately earn a competitive wage
Providing co-op opportunities that allow technicians to earn a paycheck while learning their trade
Earning more money than people with higher levels of education
Learning skills that contribute to making the world a better place
Inspiring passion in HVACR professions
Educating, recruiting and retaining technicians
After exploring current trends and opportunities, the webinar will feature a roundtable discussion with global Emerson stakeholders about strategies for recruiting the next generation of HVACR technicians. Panelists will include:
Joe Healy, director, application engineering (technical support) — Asia and MEA
Trevor Matthews, HVACR training & development specialist (marketing/business dev) — Canada
Alonso Amor, director of engineering services (technical support); Carlos Obella, VP, engineering services and product management (technical support) — Latin America
Don Gillis, technical training specialist (education/training); Becky Hoelscher, director, aftermarket sales (outside sales); Jennifer Butsch, director, regulatory affairs (marketing/business dev); Nicholas Didier, mechanical technician (R&D/engineering) — U.S.
As a recent vocational school graduate and participant in Emerson’s pre-apprenticeship program at The Helix Innovation Center, Nicholas Didier will close out the webinar by discussing his unique vocational and career path, including his recent distinction as a “20 under 20” award winner.
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business
As the transition from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) continues in the U.S., commercial refrigeration stakeholders are actively pursuing emerging low-GWP alternatives. Among these include a variety of synthetic and natural options, from A1s with a familiar footprint to mildly flammable A2Ls to the naturals A3 (R-290) and CO2 — all of which can meet very-low GWP thresholds but have varying characteristics which dictate system design architectures. In our most recent E360 Webinar, a leading European retailer provided details about how they chose an A2L refrigerant as the basis for their organization’s refrigerant transition.
Although A2L safety standards have yet to be finalized in the U.S., the case study presented by Brian Churchyard, senior manager of engineering and energy of UK-based ASDA stores, provided a useful framework for how U.S. retailers could follow a similar path to regulatory compliance and sustainable refrigeration. He detailed ASDA’s journey toward lower-GWP refrigeration, which ultimately concluded in the selection of A2L refrigerant R-454A with a GWP of 238.
Creating a new refrigeration design standard
Churchyard explained how ASDA formed a collective working group comprised of numerous agencies, private businesses and industry experts to conduct a detailed assessment of A2Ls. The group developed a design standard for the safe application of their chosen refrigerant, which was based on existing data from the use of R-290 (even though A2L flammability levels were well below those of R-290).
After comparing the performance of A2L refrigerants to other alternatives through numerous trials, the ASDA team concluded that their new design standard achieved their objectives of lowering capital investment, energy consumption, lifecycle costs and carbon emissions. It’s important to note that while R-454A does not have the lowest GWP of the available A2L alternatives, it offered performance improvements that helped to meet these sustainability goals while adhering to the EU’s F-Gas regulatory requirements.
Moving to an A2L also required a reduction in refrigerant charge, which dictated that ASDA would also need to transition from large, centralized rack systems to smaller distributed remote systems. Churchyard said that other benefits of a decentralized approach included limiting the potential for leaks while eliminating risk by having a single point of failure.
Focus on safety and leak mitigation
Of course, safety is a primary concern when using a flammable or mildly flammable refrigerant, and minimizing leaks was an essential part of ASDA’s design strategy. Churchyard stressed that leak prevention was a top priority in all their refrigeration system trials — whether it was an A1 HFC, CO2, hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) or A3 refrigerant. Preventing leaks not only minimizes the potential for emissions, but also ensures that the system is operating at full capacity and efficiency.
Churchyard said that in the event of a leak, display cases are equipped with a modular alarm system integrated into the case controller. If leakage is detected within a case, the system will activate an alarm that effectively triggers a shut-off valve that stops refrigerant flow to a particular display case. In addition, leakage thresholds are set at such a low level as to prevent the potential for A2L ignition. Quality inherent among system joints, connections and proper installation was a major collective focus of the new design standard, which included remote distributed refrigeration plants and their associated display cases.
Churchyard said case upgrades were often the first part of their refrigerant transition strategy. When store operators identified existing HFC cases that needed to be replaced, the first step was to upgrade to cases that were compatible for A2L use — even though they were still using an A1. Then, when the distributed A2L refrigeration plants were installed, these stores could safely transition over to the use of the R-454A A2L refrigerant.
ASDA has been leveraging this strategy since 2019, when it was recognized as the first retailer to adopt an all-A2L refrigerant strategy. To learn more details about ASDA’s successful refrigerant transition, please view this webinar.
For several years, the regulatory landscape regarding the governance of refrigerants has been constantly shifting. Already in 2020, we’ve seen developments, both on the state and federal levels in the U.S., which will have significant impacts on the commercial refrigeration and air conditioning sectors for years to come. We recently published an E360 article that lays out these regulatory developments in detail; this blog is a condensed summary of its key points.
Global, national and state regulations have targeted the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) and replacing them with lower-GWP options. But while emerging refrigerants — such as natural alternatives and new synthetic blends of HFCs and hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) — offer environmental improvements, they are not without their operational caveats. Making the transition to these new alternatives will impact refrigeration architectures and raise concerns about performance and safety.
This dynamic combination of factors creates a complex regulatory mix that industry stakeholders have been actively working to resolve. To better understand the full context, we’ve summarized the major regulatory developments in the U.S. and abroad.
Update on EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21
In 2017, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) Rule 20 — ruling that the EPA did not have authority to require those who had already moved out of ozone depleting substances (ODS) to phase down to lower-GWP HFCs under its Clean Air Act (CAA). Subsequently, the EPA published a “Notification of Guidance,” stating that it would not enforce any of the HFC restrictions set forth in SNAP Rules 20 and 21 when drafting future regulations.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit claiming that the 2018 Guidance was overly broad because it did not distinguish between ODS and HFC replacements, and that the EPA had not followed proper public notice-and-comment procedures to seek stakeholder input.
On April 7, 2020, the Court of Appeals granted the NRDC’s petition, stating that the EPA guidance was procedurally inappropriate. The court agreed that the initial 2017 decision required only a partial vacatur — not entirely eliminating the requirements SNAP Rules 20 and 21.
It’s important to remember that the industry had already made great strides toward meeting the mandates of SNAP Rule 20 after its passing in 2015, but these ongoing legal entanglements have left the U.S. without a clear path forward in terms of a unified refrigerant strategy. While the majority of the industry still supports the move toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future, court rulings around SNAP Rules 20 and 21 have created many questions about what the path forward will look like.
HFCs excluded from refrigerant management requirements
In response to the 2017 Court of Appeals ruling, the EPA also has rolled back other HFC-related regulations. Specifically, it excludes HFCs from the leak repair and maintenance requirements for stationary refrigeration equipment, otherwise known as Section 608 of the CAA. Other beneficial provisions of Section 608 — including the certified technician program and the refrigerant recovery and reclamation rules — are still in effect.
California continues to set the pace
The passing of California Senate Bill 1383 (the Super Pollutant Reduction Act) in 2016 called for Californians to reduce F-gas emissions (including HFCs) by 40 percent by 2030. Since then, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had been using EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21 as the bases of its HFC phase-down initiatives. The subsequent passing of California Senate Bill 1013 (the California Cooling Act) in 2018 mandated the full adoption of SNAP Rules 20 and 21 as they read on Jan. 3, 2017; the law is currently in effect.
To meet HFC reductions of 40 percent by 2030, CARB continues to hold public workshops and invited industry stakeholders to comment on the details of its second phase of proposed rulemaking, which currently states:
Refrigerants with a GWP greater than or equal to 150 will not be allowed in new stationary refrigeration systems charged with more than 50 pounds, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Existing food retail facilities with refrigeration systems charged with more than 50 pounds must collectively meet a 1,400 GWP average or 55 percent greenhouse gas emission potential (GHGp) reduction over 2018 levels by 2030.
Refrigerants with a GWP greater than or equal to 750 will not be allowed in new stationary air conditioning equipment, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Refrigerants with a GWP greater than or equal to 750 will not be allowed in chillers (including process chillers) greater than -15 °F and ice rinks, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
Refrigerants with a GWP greater than or equal to 2,200 will not be allowed in new chillers ranging from
-15 °F through -58 °F, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
CARB is planning to finalize these rulemaking proposals this summer and is still seeking industry input.
More states join U.S. Climate Alliance
In 2017, a coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico emerged to form the U.S. Climate Alliance, with a shared commitment of reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and HFCs. Since then, the Alliance has grown to 25 members — comprising more than 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy. Several states have announced plans to follow California’s lead on HFC phase-downs.
Refrigerant safety standards and codes under review
Meeting the targeted emissions reductions in California likely will require the use of low-GWP refrigerants. But many of these low-GWP, HFO refrigerants are classified as A2L, or mildly flammable. The natural A3 refrigerant R-290 (propane) also is becoming more widely used in low-charge, self-contained commercial refrigeration applications. Currently, national and global governing agencies are evaluating the standards that establish allowable charge limits and the safe use of these A2L and A3 refrigerants.
Per a 2019 update from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to IEC60335-2-89, A2L and A3 charge limits have been increased for commercial refrigeration systems:
A2Ls — from 150g to 1.2kg
A3s — 500g for factory-sealed systems, and will remain at 150g for split systems
Similar efforts to raise A2L and A3 charge limits also are taking place in the U.S. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) are working to establish new charge limits and mitigations for the use of A2L and A3 refrigerants with support from industry and various stakeholders.
Once adopted, these standards will serve as the bases for codes that govern building, fire and other local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ). It’s important to remember that building codes vary from state to state; thus, the adoption of flammable refrigerants ultimately may take place on local levels and may take years to accomplish.
Kigali Amendment not ratified in U.S.
In 2016, 197 member countries of the Montreal Protocol met in Kigali, Rwanda, and agreed on a global HFC phase-down proposal. The Kigali Amendment required ratification from at least 20 countries to take effect. To date, 92 countries (including many countries in the E.U., but not including the U.S.) have ratified it; it has been in effect for participating countries since Jan. 1, 2019.
According to industry estimates, ratifying the Kigali Amendment could create up to 33,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2027 and have a positive impact on the U.S. economy. For these reasons, industry advocates are in favor of ratification and have demonstrated this through letters of support to both the Senate and the White House.
New HFC bills introduced in the U.S.
The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have each penned new bills that would put the EPA in alignment with the Kigali Amendment and restore the EPA’s authority to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs over a 15-year period.
Senate: American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2019 (S2754)
House: American Innovation Leadership Act of 2020 (HR5544)
While the future and timing of these new bills are uncertain, they offer the potential to re-establish a federal standard for HFC management, including guidelines for servicing, recovery, recycling and reclamation.
Industry appeals for consistency
Industry advocates, including the Air-conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the NRDC, have appealed for states to be consistent in their approach to adopting CARB’s rules. Establishing a unified framework for future refrigerant regulations would provide the certainty needed to help the industry and regulatory bodies move forward with a consistent approach. At Emerson, we’re actively involved in helping the HVACR industry evaluate and steer these proposals — in industry committees, stakeholder meetings and public comments.
Phil Moeller | Vice President – Product Management, Refrigeration Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
Since its introduction nearly 30 years ago, the Copeland Scroll has revolutionized the standards for refrigeration performance and reliability. An article from the E360 Product Spotlight provides an overview of Emerson’s recent innovations for the Copeland Scroll. Click here to read the article in its entirety.
The commercial refrigeration industry has changed drastically in recent years due to new regulations and consumer trends. Operators demand an ever-widening spectrum of applications, from large centralized systems to small walk-in freezers and coolers. Energy efficiency and environmental sustainability have become business priorities. And digital technologies promise connected, predictable visibility to refrigeration systems.
That’s why Emerson’s research and development (R&D) teams for Copeland Scroll have come up with innovative technologies that optimize performance and reliability, helping you take on these emerging challenges.
Innovations that bring more power, flexibility and advanced capabilities to the Copeland Scroll lineup
Wider application and temperature ranges: We’ve expanded the ranges of commercial applications for Copeland Scroll compressors, now spanning fractional ¾ horsepower ZF*KA compressors designed for low temperatures up to the 17 horsepower K5 compressor for low- and medium-temperature applications. You’ll find a variety of solutions within this horsepower range for your low-, medium- and extended medium-temperature applications.
Inherently robust product designs: Minimalistic, fully hermetic Copeland Scroll designs use up to 70 percent fewer moving parts than semi-hermetic, reciprocating compressors. That means they have no complex suction and discharge valves; can start under any system load; eliminate many vibration issues; improve liquid and debris handling; and, with their compact and lighter-weight designs, make servicing easier.
Energy compliance: Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) rely on Copeland Scroll technology to help meet the Department of Energy’s annual walk-in efficiency factor (AWEF) ratings for walk-in coolers and freezers. Copeland Scroll’s inherent efficiency and reliability are the foundation of AWEF-compliant condensing units in leading OEM equipment design strategies.
Alternative, lower-GWP refrigerants: The Copeland Scroll lineup includes many compressors rated for use with lower-GWP synthetic and natural refrigerant alternatives. We continue to evaluate and test emerging refrigerants to help operators achieve their performance and sustainability goals.
Performance-enhancing technologies: Emerson R&D teams for Copeland Scroll lead the industry in rolling out performance-enhancing innovations, from digital modulation capabilities to liquid- and vapor-injection options and lower condensing operation. These technologies improve system reliability and capacity while meeting today’s demanding regulatory requirements.
Smart diagnostics and protection: Today, many Copeland Scroll compressors are equipped with on-board CoreSense™ Diagnostics. CoreSense provides advanced motor performance monitoring and protection, diagnostics, power consumption measurements and communication capabilities. Other compressors can be retrofitted with our panel-mounted, remote diagnostic systems. This active protection technology is driven by advanced algorithms and fault detection logging and histories, helping enable technicians to quickly diagnose and repair systems.
Product development partnerships: As an Emerson customer of Copeland Scroll, you have access to Emerson’s extensive capabilities to support your own product development efforts, collaborating with us on application engineering; design, testing and certification services; proof of concept; and application development.
Closer ties to the industry’s largest support network: Copeland Scroll compressors are backed by a network of more than 1,000 Copeland-authorized locations and over 600 certified Copeland technical specialists — a base of operations that can quickly deliver the products and technical assistance you need. Our new, fully featured Copeland™ Mobile app connects to the Emerson Online Product Information database for on-the-go access to 30 years of compressor products and specifications. It can help you quickly troubleshoot and diagnose issues and connect to our wholesaler network to check local availability of replacement products.
With a legacy of innovation and an eye toward the future, you can be sure that Emerson will continue to evolve to meet today’s rapidly changing commercial refrigeration requirements. To learn more about our innovations and emerging technologies, read 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
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