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GreenChill Hosts Emerson-led Webinar on Natural Refrigerant Architectures

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

My colleague John Wallace, director of innovation, retail solutions, and I recently partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program to present a webinar about making the transition to an effective refrigerant architecture. In it, we discussed leading natural refrigerant systems, centralized and distributed options, and the controls schemes that support them. What follows are the key takeaways from that discussion, which you can view here in its entirety — last bullet under ‘Webinar Archives’.

Over the past decade, the transition toward natural refrigerants has been driven by a combination of dynamic market trends, which include: global refrigerant and food safety regulations, rapidly changing consumer expectations and corporate sustainability goals. This historic transition has helped accelerate the adoption and investigation of “future-proof” natural refrigerant architectures.

Regulatory drivers of transition to naturals

In the U.S., the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has not only fully implemented the now defunct EPA rules designed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), it is also actively working to enact more aggressive measures that would greatly impact future refrigeration system architectures. One current proposal under review would take effect in 2022 and mandate the following:

  • Systems charged with more than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 150 GWP
  • New refrigerant sales with less than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 1,500 GWP

But California is not alone in these initiatives; there are currently 25 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance which have vowed to follow its lead.

Since natural refrigerants are among a very small list of viable options capable of meeting the above criteria, the commercial refrigeration industry is likely to see an increase in system architectures designed to utilize natural options. These include centralized architectures for larger-charge systems and distributed (or micro-distributed) options for smaller-charged system types.

Leading natural refrigerants

When we think of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration, we are typically referring to R-744 (CO2 aka carbon dioxide), R-290 (refrigerant-grade propane) and R-744 (ammonia). Let’s look at their unique characteristics and how they can be effectively utilized.

CO2 has proved very effective in both low- and medium-temperature applications and is typically found in centralized systems such as secondary, cascade and transcritical booster. Having been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in Europe for nearly two decades, it has made significant inroads in North America in recent years.

CO2 is not a retrofit refrigerant and is intended for use only in new systems. System designers, operators and technicians need to be aware of CO2’s unique characteristics, particularly its low critical point, high operating pressures and standing pressure (power outage) considerations. It has a GWP of 1, which puts it in an elite class of environmentally friendly options.

Propane continues to experience a global resurgence as a viable, efficient and very low-GWP refrigerant choice. Its high flammability has traditionally limited system charges to 150g, which is why today it’s found primarily in stand-alone systems that operate efficiently with a low refrigerant charge — such as integrated display cases often utilized in micro-distributed applications. In Europe and abroad, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently raised its charge limit to 500g; the U.S. conservatively remains at 150g. Also, propane is not a retrofit option and is intended for new systems designed specifically for its use.

With its superior thermodynamic properties, ammonia was a logical first choice for early refrigeration systems. However, its toxicity requires careful adherence to safe application procedures to ensure operator safety and customer well-being. Traditionally, it has been used in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications. Most recently, ammonia has been introduced into commercial applications via cascade systems that utilize lower refrigerant charges and isolate the ammonia circuit away from occupied spaces.

System controls to support natural refrigerant architectures

Because of the unique properties in these emerging natural refrigerant architectures, system controls are even more essential to ensuring efficient operation, troubleshooting and servicing. Generally, the controls are loosely coupled to the refrigeration architecture, often following either a centralized or distributed approach.

However, the expanding variety of natural refrigeration systems can also pose new challenges for operators trying to maintain controls consistency or access a unified view across different systems. Here, a supervisory system — with its ability to integrate different devices into a common user interface — ensures that all stakeholders can quickly and easily evaluate each refrigeration system. 

As regulations continue to evolve and natural refrigerant systems gain more acceptance, Emerson is prepared to help equipment manufacturers, system designers and end users utilize these very low-GWP alternatives in the development of efficient, user-friendly and economically viable refrigeration systems.

 

10 Takeaways From 10 Years of GreenChill Data

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership recently completed a 10-year study examining supermarket data trends. In our latest E360 Webinar, Tom Land, manager of the program, presented these findings from GreenChill’s unique perceptive. View the webinar in its entirety or read the summary below.

Latest E360 Webinar on Demand

For more than a decade, the GreenChill program has worked with supermarket retailers across the country to promote the use of “greener” refrigeration systems in their stores. While our industry is in the early phases of transitioning to more sustainable refrigeration, GreenChill partner companies are at the forefront of this movement. The number of retailers participating has increased significantly since the program’s inception, and the data Tom discussed at the webinar provides a road map for other companies as they formalize their own sustainability initiatives.

Let’s look at 10 takeaways from the recent webinar.

  1. GreenChill partnership on the rise — in 2007, just more than 4,000 stores were GreenChill partners; today, that number exceeds 11,000 stores.

 

  1. Partner refrigerant emissions remain low — among the growing number of participating GreenChill partner stores, emissions have been held to a minimum. This is in large part due to the program’s emphasis on reducing refrigerant leaks and system charges.

 

  1. Refrigerant charges are declining — the average amount of refrigerants used in participating stores has declined steadily since 2007, even as the number of stores increases.

 

  1. Pounds per store leaks are dropping — in 2007, partner stores emitted more than 390 pounds per store every year; today, 290 pounds is average.

 

  1. Leak rates well below industry averages — on average, GreenChill partners have a leak rate of 13.9 percent, well below the industry average of 25 percent. Twelve of the partners have achieved a leak rate below 10 percent.

 

  1. One-fifth still use R-22 — although R-22 use is on the decline overall, 20 percent of commercial refrigeration systems continue to use it.

 

  1. Low-GWP refrigerants on the uptake — R-407A accounts for 20 percent of partner-installed refrigerants; installations with refrigerants less than 1,420 GWP now account for nearly 3 percent of all partner-installed refrigerants, with R-448A accounting for much of this growth.

 

  1. CO2 installations increase — installations of CO2 secondary loop, cascade and transcritical booster systems among partners continue to rise, with more than 12 partners exceeding a combined total of 160,000 pounds of installed R-744.

 

  1. Growth of GreenChill certifications — in 2009, fewer than 25 stores achieved GreenChill Gold and Silver certifications; today more than 360 stores have achieved Platinum, Gold and Silver certifications and re-certifications.

 

  1. California leads certification — among those states with GreenChill-certified stores, California leads the country with 151 stores. The next closest state is Florida with 45 stores.

Over the past decade, Emerson has worked with a variety of GreenChill partners to meet their sustainability objectives, utilizing leading low-GWP refrigerant alternatives and energy-efficiency strategies. If you’re interested in transitioning to a greener refrigeration system, we’re here to help you develop a strategy that meets your long-term goals.

Emerson Will Present at GreenChill Webinar on Natural Refrigerants

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Emerson is happy to announce its participation in a webinar sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program. Join Andre Patenaude, director of food retail marketing & growth Tuesday, July 30 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT for a discussion about Making the Transition to an Effective Natural Refrigerant Architecture.

Emerson Will Present at GreenChill Webinar on Natural Refrigerants

For several years, the use of natural refrigerants in supermarket refrigeration has become an increasingly relevant topic across our industry. While taking a natural approach may seem like a far-away future concept to some, successful implementations are happening in various global regions and slowly becoming more commonplace in the U.S. as well.

Typically, discussions about natural refrigerants are part of a larger context, one that recognizes the ongoing transition from legacy refrigerants to sustainable alternatives. Here, natural refrigerants are among the most readily available, viable options, because they offer very low global warming potential (GWP) and no ozone depletion potential (ODP). But with relatively low adoption in U.S. supermarkets, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty among operators considering a move to natural refrigerant systems.

Industry initiatives like the GreenChill program are helping to promote broader use of natural refrigerants. Over the last decade, Emerson has been a leader in the development of natural refrigerant-ready components and systems. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a free GreenChill webinar that will feature two of Emerson’s experts on this topic, Andre Patenaude and John Wallace. Attendees will learn:

  • Characteristics and caveats of using CO2 (R-744), propane (R-290) and ammonia (R-717)
  • Market trends driving the use of natural refrigerants, such as: evolving store formats, corporate sustainability objectives and the dynamic regulatory climate
  • Examples of successful natural refrigerant system installations and trials taking place
  • Details about common natural refrigerant architectures and innovations

Backed by innovations from leading equipment manufacturers, regional governance incentives and federal sustainability programs, the transition to natural refrigerants is more viable today than ever before. We hope you’ll make plans to join Andre and John on Tuesday, July 30 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT for this informative free GreenChill webinar.

How to register and attend

To register for this informative free event, please mark your calendar now and then follow these steps on the day of the webinar:

  1. Visit the webinar access page: Making the Transition to an Effective Natural Refrigerant Architecture
  2. If you get a Window Security screen, click “OK”
  3. Select “Enter as a Guest”
  4. Enter your name
  5. Click “Enter Room”
  6. Click “OK”

LEED v4

Not all building owners decide to pursue LEED certification.  But the LEED rating system virtually guarantees that the very best environmental practices are being followed.  In 2013, a new version of the rating system called LEED v4 will be approved. USGBC will keep LEED 2009 available for three more years, but project teams can move to the new version of LEED during that period. LEED v4 focuses on increasing technical stringency from past versions and developing new requirements for project types such as data centers, warehouses & distribution centers, hotels/motels, existing schools, existing retail, and mid-rise residential. The credit requirement changes in the proposed LEED v4 rating system are the most extensive in LEED’s twelve-year history. Retail-specific requirements will be added, including the energy and refrigerant credits.

The Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite will be updated to reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. Retail-specific process load requirements will be added including refrigeration equipment, cooking and food preparation, clothes washing, and other major support appliances. Many industry standard baseline conditions for commercial kitchen equipment and refrigeration will be defined, meaning that no additional documentation is necessary to substantiate these predefined baseline systems as industry standard. For appliances and equipment not covered in the baseline measures, LEED project teams must indicate hourly energy use for proposed and budget equipment, along with estimated daily use hours. ENERGY STAR ratings and evaluations are a valid basis for performing this calculation. For hard-wired refrigeration loads, team must model the effect of energy performance improvements with a simulation program designed to account for refrigeration equipment.

LEED v4 will also make changes to the Enhanced Refrigerant Management credit. Stores with commercial refrigeration systems must select equipment with an average HFC refrigerant charge of no more than 1.75 pounds of refrigerant per 1,000 Btu/h total evaporator cooling load. Store must also demonstrate a predicted store-wide annual refrigerant emissions rate of no more than 15% and conduct leak testing using the procedures in GreenChill’s best practices guideline for leak tightness at installation.

Green BuildingThe LEED® Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven building rating system based on existing proven technology. It defines and promotes green designs, and rewards organizations that adopt some or all of its principles towards green or integrated building design. LEED credits are awarded based on criteria in six categories of performance. A building project must meet a set of prerequisites to be registered, and it must achieve the minimum number of points to earn a basic ‘Certified’ level determines the level of LEED certification (from a Certified level through Silver and Gold to the Platinum level).

The retail and foodservice industries are investing in environmentally-friendly construction, in accordance with LEED guidelines, to enhance occupant comfort and reduce environmental impact. LEED building design requires some added initial cost; however, research shows the investment becomes offset over time by a reduction in energy usage and other related expenses.

Why the interest in LEED? Concern for the environment and sustainable development is growing, and LEED is a way that businesses can prove they are good corporate citizens. LEED promotes a whole building approach to sustainability through the principles of green building and integrated building design. There is a conscious effort to systematically integrate the design of building systems, such as HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, water management, and other mechanical systems with the building design itself, so as to achieve higher levels of performance.

Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D
Vice President, Engineering Services and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies

Supermarket Refrigeration –System Changes, Present and Future

From an outsider’s perspective, the commercial refrigeration industry will not seem fast-paced compared to what is being read and heard about in other industries, like at Silicon Valley for example. However, the landscape is changing and will continue to change based on many key factors.

Knowing what the potential changes are and understanding why they are taking place will help HVACR professionals embrace the developments and be better equipped to handle them in the field.

Forces driving changes include …

…Cost

Many factors are at play as to why commercial refrigeration systems and refrigerants are changing. Foremost on retailers’ minds is always cost. Cost can come in many forms: first cost, energy cost and maintenance cost. Retailers must take a balanced approach to these cost drivers to get the overall best value, and the answers can be very different depending on facility location.

…Regulations

Regulations are also driving the market. Refrigerants that deplete the upper atmosphere ozone (such as R-22) and refrigerants that have relatively high GWP values (such as R-404A with a GWP of 3,922) have and will be looked at by agencies like the EPA. In order to curtail usage, other regions in the world have already implemented tighter leak requirements and taxes on the use of certain classes of refrigerant gases that are detrimental to the environment. Regulations will also impact system efficiency levels. A/C systems have been regulated for years with little energy requirements given for commercial refrigeration. Smaller systems (such as ice machines) have ENERGY STAR ratings, but bigger rack systems found in grocery stores have not been subject to energy standards. Regulations such as California’s Title 24 will change that over time.

…Sustainability

Also, there is a significant movement for retailers to become green and develop sustainability measures. The role of refrigeration is very prominent in terms of energy consumption and emissions that could potentially escape to the atmosphere, two very important sustainability measures. Today, retailing organizations may have a vice president of sustainability, a role that would not have existed 10–15 years ago. Companies release sustainability reports and join voluntary groups, such as the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership. This type of visibility leads to an increased interest in measuring results. The measuring of results leads to new programs to achieve desired outcomes.

To view a more in-depth discussion of the changes occurring in commercial refrigeration, including the introduction of electronics and the migration toward natural refrigerants, click on the following link:  http://www.rses.org/assets/rses_journal/0812_Supermarket.pdf.

After reading the article, I’d enjoy hearing from you. Has your company taken the plunge into natural refrigerants? Are you following the recent trend toward distributed and secondary loop systems? If you’re a contractor, have you experienced the benefits of the advanced electronics in troubleshooting problems?

Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D
Vice President, Engineering Services and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies

Based upon article in RSES Journal

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