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Refrigerant Regulations: 2018 Recap and 2019 Impacts

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The year 2018 brought many changes to refrigerant regulations, with additional activity expected in 2019 and beyond. This blog highlights some of the key developments, which were presented in a recent E360 article. Read the full article here.

 

The regulation of refrigerants continues to be a source of great uncertainty in the commercial refrigeration industry. As global, national and state regulations have targeted the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in recent years, some in the industry have begun the transition toward alternative refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP). But these environmentally friendly options raise additional questions about performance and safety.

All in all, it’s a complex regulatory mix that got even more complicated in 2018. But we’re here to recap recent events and place them into a larger context.

The status of EPA SNAP Rule 20

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. The court ruled that the EPA did not have authority to phase down HFCs under the Clean Air Act (CAA) — which was originally intended to eliminate ozone-depleting substances (ODS) — and thus could no longer enforce its 2015 GWP-based mandates.

In the absence of Rule 20, the commercial refrigeration industry has many questions about what the path toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future for refrigerants will look like. Industry calls to overturn the District of Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision were declined by the Supreme Court, which stated it would not hear the HFC case1. Currently, the EPA is drafting new regulations that will clarify its plans to move forward with SNAP. We anticipate details on their position early this year.

EPA rescinds other HFC-related regulations

The EPA has also indicated that it will no longer enforce refrigerant delistings and has proposed to roll back other HFC-related regulations2. In particular, the EPA has proposed excluding HFCs from the leak repair and maintenance requirements for stationary refrigeration equipment, otherwise known as Section 608 of the CAA.

California adopts Rule 20 as the basis for its initiatives

Regulatory uncertainty at the federal level is not preventing states from adopting their own refrigerant regulations and programs. California Senate Bill 1383, aka the Super Pollutant Reduction Act, was passed in 2016 and requires that Californians reduce F-gas emissions (including HFCs) by 40 percent by 20303. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been tasked with meeting these reductions.

Since 2016, CARB had been using EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21 as the bases of its HFC phase-down initiatives. Even after SNAP Rule 20 was vacated, CARB moved to adopt compliance dates that were already implemented or upcoming. The passing of California Senate Bill 1013 — aka the California Cooling Act — in Sept. 20184 mandates the full adoption of SNAP Rules 20 and 21 as they read on Jan. 3, 2017. The law is currently in effect and does not require additional CARB rulemaking to uphold compliance dates.

CARB is also proposing an aggressive second phase of rulemaking that would further impact commercial refrigeration and AC applications. CARB has held public workshops and invited industry stakeholders to comment on the details of this proposal.

Meanwhile, many other states have announced their plans to follow California’s lead on HFC phase-downs. The U.S. Climate Alliance, formed in 2017 out of a coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico, is committed to reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including HFCs. Among these alliance states, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware have announced plans to follow California’s lead on HFC phase-downs.

Refrigerant safety standards and codes under review

Many of the low-GWP, hyrdrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerants are classified as A2L, or mildly flammable. R-290 (propane) is also becoming a natural refrigerant option for many low-charge, self-contained 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.

Internationally, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has proposed increasing charge limits for refrigeration systems in IEC60335-2-89 as follows:

  • A2Ls — from 150g to 1.2kg
  • A3s — 500g for factory-sealed systems, and will remain at 150g for split systems

These proposals are still under review and will likely be published sometime in 2019.

Kigali Amendment took effect on Jan. 1

The regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. can sometimes obscure international efforts underway to phase down HFCs. The Montreal Protocol has led the way on this effort for nearly a decade5. In 2016, 197 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, and agreed on a global HFC phase-down proposal. Known as the Kigali Amendment, this treaty has been ratified by 53 countries (including the E.U.) and took effect on Jan. 1 for participating countries. The U.S. is still considering ratification.

As we move into 2019, there are many moving pieces on the regulatory chess board, but also some encouraging signs of progress. We will be providing the very latest regulatory updates in our next E360 Webinar. Register now to stay informed.

  1. https://www.achrnews.com/articles/140040-supreme-court-declines-to-hear-hfc-case
  2. https://www.epa.gov/section608/revised-section-608-refrigerant-management-regulations
  3. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1383
  4. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1013
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol#Hydrochlorofluorocarbons_(HCFCs)_Phase-out_Management_Plan_(HPMP)

Beyond Saving: What’s Next in Supermarket Power Management?

JamesJackson_Blog_Image James Jackson | Business Development Manager
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Last fall, a gathering of food retailers, industry professionals and energy experts converged in Houston for our latest E360 Forum. This daylong event was packed with the latest news, views and best practices on hot-button industry issues: regulations, emerging technologies and more.

Matt Smith, project manager for San Diego Gas & Electric’s Emerging Technologies Group, and I explored fresh ideas on what the future holds for supermarket power management. What follows are just a few of our observations.

Future of lighting rebates dim

Utility incentive programs for food retailers, in all markets, are changing. Lighting upgrades and retrofits fueled by rebate incentives were once low-hanging fruit for commercial and industrial consumers alike. However, laborious rebate application processes have contributed to waning interest and participation — especially among food retailers. Policy and regulations have also had an impact. As CFL and LED technologies become standard, rebates are no longer seen as necessary to incentivize adoption and won’t help utilities reach their energy-savings targets. Now energy providers are looking for other more innovative and targeted ways to incentivize efficiency.

Collaboration key to more customer-centric incentives

Admittedly, supermarkets are an underserved market for utility companies. There are simply not a lot of programs designed with the distinct needs of grocery retailers in mind. However, Matt thinks this is changing.

“We’re moving toward a more vertical approach on how we run programs in the sense that we’re serving a customer segment rather than a [category] like refrigeration … That will lead to programs that are better suited for specific customer segments like supermarkets or convenience stores.”

Matt went on to say that utilities want to hear from food retailers. They welcome the opportunities to connect and collaborate — either directly or virtually. Many offer cooperative bodies, online forums and other ways to engage. In California, utilities and other energy professionals have created the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (www.etcc-ca.com) as way to collaborate, develop and facilitate new and emerging technologies. Other regions offer similar resources and channels.

Pay-for-performance programs offer opportunities for efficiency and innovation

Pay-for-performance programs are another relatively recent energy-efficiency trend — one that doesn’t rely on rebates or other incentive-based equipment purchases. It allows participants to identify various energy-saving measures. Payments are made over time and are based on actual energy savings measured at the meter.

The beauty of pay-for-performance programs is that they can offer an integrated, more holistic approach to energy efficiency. Savings can come from building retrofits and equipment upgrades as well as from behavioral or operational and maintenance activities. These programs also shift the responsibility for energy savings from the utilities to energy-efficiency project implementers — and can be real incubators for innovation, efficiency and new technologies. Less prescriptive and more proactive, they offer greater opportunity for collaboration and invention.

Power markets and effective demand management

Many utilities are incentivizing commercial and industrial customers to participate in demand management/demand response programs. These are developed to cut electric consumption during peak times of the day when electricity is in high demand. Effective demand management rewards customers who can conserve when the grid is taxed the most. While a proven practice in other industries and abroad, these programs are not commonly employed among food retailers in the U.S., even though the opportunities and technologies are available.

The high usage of electricity by supermarkets makes it very attractive to participate in these programs. However, reliability and flexibility in a supermarket’s HVACR and energy requirements are absolutely essential for success. Technologies like today’s smart refrigeration systems and thermal storage are ways to optimize thermal potential by shifting electricity usage at expensive times to lower-rate periods.

More grocery retailers of today are looking hard at current HVACR systems and exploring strategies and technologies to shift energy consumption without compromising food safety. We’re excited about the possibilities.

As I shared, “Demand management is becoming a really big deal using supermarkets. I use the term ‘virtual power plant’ pretty easily in this conversation. If you’ve got a flexible store and can provide thermal storage, you could actually use that store as a virtual asset for the utility. [It creates] a kind of push and pull with the power demand … All this stuff is extremely exciting, especially in this segment or business.”

Demand management programs and today’s power markets represent a real opportunity to generate revenue by using thermal capacity, transforming your energy-eating equipment into an energy asset.

To learn more about any of these programs and the emerging technologies that are driving them, watch the full E360 Forum presentation.

Copeland Hermetic CS Compressors Rated for Lower-GWP Refrigerants

VarunGarg_Blog_Image Varun Garg | Manager, Product Management – Refrigeration

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The Copeland™ Hermetic CS compressor line has been extended for use with leading alternative refrigerants. To learn more about this important update, read our recent E360 product spotlight.

Copeland Hermetic CS compressors are commonly used in self-contained and remote walk-in coolers, as well as in ice, soft serve and frozen carbonated beverage applications. Most recently, we’ve updated this industry-standard compressor platform to qualify for use with modern refrigerant alternatives — which include R-407A, R-448A and R-449A — to offer lower glower warming potential (GWP) while providing the same reliable performance.

Found in a wide range of commercial refrigeration applications, R-404A is one of the most commonly used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. In recent years, HFCs like R-404A have been targeted for phase-down via global, federal and state regulatory efforts to limit the use of high-GWP refrigerants. Throughout the industry, many operators are actively seeking lower-GWP options to help them achieve regulatory compliance and meet corporate sustainability initiatives.

Many factors must be taken into account when considering how to transition to a lower-GWP alternative refrigerant, including service, maintenance and operational requirements. It’s no surprise that many operators are hesitant to transition to an option that will force them to overhaul their current refrigeration architecture or introduce a new compression platform. Emerson is helping those familiar with the Copeland Hermetic CS compressor line move from R-404A to one of these approved alternatives — without introducing new system complexities.

For those seeking to comply with regulatory targets or meet sustainability objectives, Copeland Hermetic CS compressors are qualified to use R-407A, R-448A and R-449A in medium-temperature applications. This will enable significant GWP reductions compared to R-404A.

R-404A 3,922 GWP
R-407A 2,107 GWP
R-448A 1,273 GWP
R-449A 1,282 GWP

GWP by refrigerant

Retrofit vs. new: considerations
With these new refrigerant qualifications, operators now have the option to retrofit their legacy Copeland Hermetic CS compressors. It’s important to understand that R-407A, R-448A and R-449A are not considered true “drop-in” replacements.

Even though operators can keep the same compression platform, switching from R-404A to one of these lower-GWP options requires adherence to Emerson’s Refrigerant Changeover Guidelines to help ensure optimum system performance. Expansion valve adjustments, proper lubrication and filter changes must be followed per the application engineering bulletin.

For new applications, this newly qualified Copeland Hermetic CS line of compressors grants operators the flexibility of determining which replacement options are best suited to meet their external regulatory requirements and/or internal sustainability initiatives. Emerson recommends consulting its application engineering bulletin or a certified compression expert to help better understand the performance characteristics of each low-GWP refrigerant option.

To learn specific performance ratings of these new refrigerants, please visit the Copeland Online Product Information (OPI) tool. R-448A and R-449A data will be published in February 2019.

 

Refrigeration Strategies for Enabling Flexible Merchandising

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The practice of rotating inventory in customer-facing product displays is often referred to as “flexible merchandising”. In a recent E360 article, I explained how refrigeration equipment is becoming more mobile to help food retailers implement this strategy. Read the full article here.

In today’s competitive food retail markets, flexible merchandising strategies provide opportunities to give customers the sense that there’s always something new to discover. Whether to highlight seasonal offerings, promote flash sales or maintain a vibrant store appearance, it’s a proven method of keeping customers engaged and coming back. To implement this strategy, grocers need flexibility in their display cases with the ability to move and rotate offerings as needed. The challenge comes when these products need to be refrigerated, because many traditional refrigeration systems don’t support that desired flexibility.

Refrigeration fixtures will need at least some degree of mobility to be viable in a flexible merchandising strategy. But in many cases, refrigeration architectures are often inherently incompatible with a flexible approach. Many have fixed-case layouts where fixtures and piping are literally affixed into the store’s floorplan with pre-determined insets. Traditional centralized direct expansion (DX) refrigeration systems also don’t lend themselves to refrigerated display case flexibility.

What are your refrigeration options for flexible merchandising?

With changing retailer preferences and market trends in mind, there are several viable refrigeration architectures available today. Let’s look at a few.

Distributed — this strategy is based on installing outdoor condensing units (“OCUs”) that allow them to be strategically located outside of a facility to support the addition of spot merchandising cases. Often utilized by smaller-format stores, this approach makes it easier for operators to scale their refrigeration system to the needs of the store. Modern OCUs are quiet, energy-efficient and offer installation flexibility while leaving small physical footprints outside the store. Keep in mind that OCUs are typically installed to support refrigerated fixtures in different zones, so their flexibility is limited to a particular zone.

Micro-distributed — featuring display cases that have the compressors integrated within the case, this emerging system type is becoming more common, especially in smaller-format stores. To remove the exhaust heat, cases are connected to a shared water-cooled loop that’s directed to the roof of the facility. These systems utilize a variety of low-GWP refrigerants at low charges, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and hydrocarbons such as R-290. The integrated case with water loop design enables a greater degree of merchandising flexibility, but does not quite achieve true mobility.

Self-contained — for maximum merchandising flexibility, these display cases incorporate the entire refrigeration system within the case — essentially serving as plug-and-play refrigerated units on wheels. These smaller refrigeration systems typically do not require large refrigerant charges, and are designed to use a variety of low-GWP HFC, HFO and R-290 refrigerant options. For a large-format store with a centralized DX system, incorporating self-contained display cases is a logical means of achieving refrigerated case flexibility.

As refrigeration technologies evolve to address changing industry dynamics, look for emerging system architectures that will help retailers meet the needs for flexible merchandising and smaller store footprints.

Top 10 Emerson YouTube Videos for 2018: Lights, Camera, Expertise!

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

At Emerson, seeing is explaining. When you need to keep pace with new technologies, regulations and ideas in fast-moving industries, you want to hear from the experts. That’s why we regularly call upon industry leaders to join us in discussions about the future of our commercial refrigeration industry. You can find many of these discussions in videos captured from informative E360 Webinars and Forums. What follows is a summary of our top 10 most-viewed videos of 2018.

  1. E360 Webinar 13: Seven Keys to Servicing CO2 Systems

CO2-based refrigeration systems with R-744 are new to a lot of service technicians, which drew a large audience to this webinar about dealing effectively with the refrigerant’s unique properties. Starting with an overview of the systems themselves, the presentation walked step-by-step through handling critical and triple points, high and standstill pressures, cylinder storage, charging and system maintenance best practices.

  1. E360 Forum: Dallas | Food Industry Forecast: Key Trends Through 2020

After a long period of stable growth, the restaurant, foodservice and food retail industries face a set of new and disruptive industry trends, with new business structures, different operating environments and business practices that are rapidly driving change. This E360 Forum discussed these big trends: new consumer expectations, the demand for localized food, farm-to-fork transparency, the role of technology and Big Data, and deconsolidation into specialized niches.

  1. E360 Forum: Raleigh | Cold Chain Evolution

The pressure to create an unbreakable global cold chain has become critical for the food industry. Every year, 33 percent of all food spoils in transit — a loss of $1 trillion. Food safety is critical to a brand’s reputation, trust and profits. Global transport and international regulations have extended the cold chain to air, land and water. This E360 Forum discussed the cold chains of yesterday and today, and described how the rapid evolution to a digitally connected cold chain provides the potential for end-to-end optimization.

  1. E360 Webinar 6: Best Practices for Evaluating Compressor System Performance

Whether you’re a commercial refrigeration OEM selecting a compressor for a new system or a food retailer choosing a new chiller, there are a lot of compressor options from which to choose, often with very different performance attributes to consider. This popular webinar discussed factors such as temperature mid-points and dew points, compressor capacities, energy-efficiency ratios and other issues crucial to selecting the right compressor with the lowest cost of ownership.

  1. E360 Webinar 14: EPA’s Final Refrigerant Ruling: Its Impact on Your Business

The EPA’s 2015 final rule on the delisting of HFC refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and AC applications sent shockwaves throughout our industries. This webinar detailed which refrigerants were selected for phase-down and when, discussed how the ruling impacted various refrigeration applications, and covered viable refrigerant alternatives for OEMs, operators, and refrigerant manufacturers and contractors. For the latest rulemaking on refrigerants, please view this regulatory update session from our most recent E360 Forum.

  1. E360 Conference 2017 | Trends in Supermarket Refrigeration Architectures

If they haven’t already, the architecture, systems and refrigerants in your supermarket are going to change — significantly. Driving the change? The drumbeat of international, federal and state regulations already arriving. This high-level conference covered a wide range of architectures, equipment and refrigerant options, their complexity, costs and maintenance requirements, and four key operational considerations: energy, economics, the environment and equipment.

 

  1. E360 Forum: Anaheim | Trends in Refrigerant System Architecture & CO2

As ambient temperatures go up, condenser and refrigerator compression efficiency go down. With new refrigerants, including natural refrigerants such as CO2, high temperatures — and the refrigerants’ critical points — become major considerations. In this technical presentation, centering on CO2 refrigerant as an example, we discussed a range of system architecture options and new equipment and components that help CO2 refrigeration tackle high ambient temperatures while maintaining performance.

  1. E360 Webinar 16: Innovation in Refrigeration

This webinar’s short title encompasses the enormous problems facing our industry today, including: dynamic regulations, the need for an unbreakable global cold chain, the call for access to all data, and the needs of a rapidly changing industry. In this webinar, we learned that the process of innovation itself has to evolve to involve every link in the refrigerated equipment value chain. You’ll see these new approaches modeled at The Helix Innovation Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio, where we’re actively pursuing innovations in refrigeration technology through an inclusive, collaborative approach.

  1. E360 Conference 2017 | The Human Equation of Facility Management

This is a story about shortages. Facility managers have a shortage of resources across the board and sometimes have to outsource their facility services. These services face a shortage of technicians — and a big gap in expertise between experienced technicians and the new generation. Under these circumstances, how do you manage costs and ensure efficient responses to facility problems? This conference presented an answer: call on technology to become more intelligent and provide technicians the information they need to do more with less.

  1. E360 Forum: Anaheim | Converting Waste Into Renewable Energy

Ever give a thought to the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink? This presentation showed that it’s no longer a simple appliance, but an environmentally responsible tool that keeps food waste out of landfills, keeps methane out of the air, and creates a new, clean energy source — right from the food scraps going down your sink. InSinkErator, an Emerson company, works to transform water treatment plants into energy powerhouses by creating biosolids to produce energy and fertilizers without waste.

 

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