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Posts tagged ‘Rajan Rajendran’

Selecting a New Refrigerant — Current and Future Options

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Whether you’re an OEM or an end user, selecting an alternative refrigerant for new commercial refrigeration platforms is not an easy decision. From installation and servicing requirements to performance, environmental and economic impacts, there are many factors to consider — including the complexities of the regulatory climate.

Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 decision to change the status of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, the list of acceptable refrigerant alternatives has continued to expand. The ruling set forth specific change of status dates whereby HFCs will no longer be permitted in various commercial refrigeration equipment classes. Not only do the dates vary among these equipment classes, but there are multiple refrigerant options available within each specific application. And as these HFC phase-down timelines approach, we expect that the EPA will continue to introduce through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program new synthetic alternatives that offer incremental reductions in GWP levels.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and easy to see why the refrigerant issue — including past, current and future options — has proved particularly difficult for our industry to sort out. To help you analyze the available options and evaluate how they will impact you, we’ve assembled a list of refrigerant alternatives per commercial refrigeration application, as defined by EPA equipment classifications.

Future A2L alternatives

To meet the growing demand for lower-GWP refrigerants, chemical manufacturers have developed a new class of synthetic refrigerants called A2Ls with a GWP less than 150. While several manufacturers have submitted these “mildly flammable” blends for SNAP approval, none of these alternatives have yet to be listed as acceptable for use in commercial refrigeration applications by the EPA. A degree of flammability is a result of attempts to reach the very low GWP levels.

A2L Refrigerant designed to replace GWP
ARM-25 R-404A < 150
R-454A R-404A/R-22 238
R-454C R-404A/R-22 148
R-457A R-404A/R-22 139
R-515A HFC-134a 392
R-516A Near drop-in for HFC-134a 131
R-1234yf HFC-134a 1
R-1234ze R-404A/R-22 1

Emerson will continue to closely monitor all regulatory activity and keep you informed of any implications. These updates will likely introduce lower-GWP alternatives — such as the A2Ls discussed herein — that will help the industry continue to evolve toward more energy-efficient and lower life cycle climate performance (LCCP) systems and fluids.

There’s no question that the timing of the HFC status changes will continue to present challenges throughout the commercial refrigeration supply chain. We will continue to keep an eye on these developments and provide guidance about which refrigerants are available to help you make the transition.

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Navigating the New Refrigerant Landscape

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Navigating the New Refrigerant Landscape.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The EPA’s phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants is underway. Over the next several years, these high-global warming potential (GWP) substances will no longer be permitted in a variety of commercial refrigeration equipment. As part of its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, the EPA has also listed new synthetic blends and natural refrigerants as suitable alternatives.

These new alternatives have different performance, servicing and handling requirements than their predecessors. To govern their safe use, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has designated safety classifications that denote varying degrees of toxicity and flammability:

  • A1: lower toxicity; no flame propagation
  • A2L: lower toxicity; lower flammability
  • A3: lower toxicity; higher flammability
  • B2L: higher toxicity, lower flammability

The performance (pressure and capacity) characteristics of common A1 HFCs are used as a baseline for the development of new lower-GWP alternatives. For example, R-448A/449A and R-449B are among the “R-404A like” (medium-pressure) options, while R-513A and R-450A are “HFC-134a like” (low-pressure) substitutes. These all have relatively lower GWPs than their HFC counterparts (350 to 1,300 GWP) and are EPA listed as acceptable for use in specific applications.

Several “future proof” options are currently undergoing the EPA’s SNAP approval process. To achieve very low-GWP levels below 150, these HFO blends all fall under the A2L (mildly flammable) classification. Among the medium-pressure alternatives include R-455A, R-454C and R-457A, while HFO-1234yf/ze and ARM-42 comprise the low-pressure options. Look for future SNAP ruling updates to verify their specific use parameters.

There are also a few very low-GWP, high-performance natural refrigerant alternatives that have been EPA listed as acceptable for use. Ammonia (refrigerant name R-717), propane (refrigerant name R-290) and carbon dioxide (CO2 or refrigerant name R-744) all occur naturally in the environment and have a long history of commercial use.

  • Ammonia — as a B2L, R-717 use requires careful adherence to safe use procedures. Its suitability in low-temperature applications has made it a mainstay in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications. Today, some supermarkets are trialing it in CO2 cascade systems to significantly reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Propane — R-290 is a high-capacity, energy-efficient refrigerant with superior performance characteristics. R-290 adoption has increased significantly as an alternative to HFCs R-404A and HFC-134a. Applications typically have a charge limit of 150 grams, making it well-suited for self-contained, reach-in display cases.
  • CO2 — Non-flammable and non-toxic, CO2 has proved a very effective alternative in both low- and medium-temperature applications, especially in regions with lower ambient temperatures. Its unique operating characteristics have led to the development of cascade, secondary and transcritical booster system architectures — all of which have been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in both Europe and the U.S.

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Navigating the New Refrigerant Landscape.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Mobilizing the Industry to Address the Technician Shortage

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog originally appeared in our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the issue in its entirety.

With all the talk about the regulatory challenges facing the commercial refrigeration industry today, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the elephant in the room — namely, its growing shortage of qualified HVACR technicians. While we’ve all been justifiably focused on understanding system design changes to reduce energy consumption and new refrigerants to lower our carbon footprint, no one in our industry has stepped forward to lead the charge on solving the technician shortage in a holistic manner.

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At Emerson’s annual contractor roundtable, the lack of qualified technicians was cited as the number one challenge facing contracting business owners. I would argue that it is perhaps our industry’s most pressing issue.

There is no quick fix to this situation. Finding a solution will take months, if not years, and require the commitment of a dedicated organization to drive this effort forward. Through our E360 platform, Emerson is committing to lead this important initiative.

At our E360 Forum in Tucson, Ariz., we took our first steps toward defining the framework of this effort. The event assembled industry stakeholders and vocational school educators for a half-day, E360 Industry Challenge session to examine the current state of the HVACR technician profession. Areas of focus included:

  • Awareness — Do we understand what’s at stake and agree on the problem?
  • Recruitment — How can we attract individuals with aptitude?
  • Training — How can these individuals receive training, and what should those programs look like?
  • Certification — Which types of certification should be made available?
  • Retention — How can we keep individuals engaged throughout their careers?

In 2017, E360 will host a larger Forum focused solely on addressing the technician shortage. This multi-day event will feature an interdisciplinary team dedicated to understanding the problem, defining a working road map for meeting the challenge, and assigning specific actions to solve it.

In addition to industry stakeholders, we will seek insights from previously untapped resources. We will also seek the expertise of educators who have experience in developing curriculum and recruiting candidates. Our technical colleges, vocational schools and trade associations will all play key roles in shaping this piece of the puzzle. We may also benefit from government representatives and/or agencies who may be able to affect policy changes that can further our cause.

Certainly, the current regulatory climate is a dynamic situation that will continue to impact us for years to come, and our E360 platform will remain dedicated to helping you navigate this changing landscape. But without qualified technicians to service the next generation of refrigeration equipment, our industry will have an even bigger challenge.

If you want to contribute to this effort or have ideas that may help, please reach out to us at E360. Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

Accelerating Collaboration: The Future of Connectivity

Rajan Rajendran
Vice President System Innovation Center and Sustainability
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions


One of the key principals we are pursuing in our new facility, The Helix Innovation Center is the concept of looking at questions from unusual angles. So when we had the chance to pose a challenge to a diverse group of University of Dayton students, we asked them to tackle the subject of connectivity.

The program, part of the Collaboration Accelerator 2.0 brought together UD students majoring in mechanical and civil engineering, marketing, communications, visual arts and international studies, plus a recent Sinclair Community College graduate, to find creative solutions to real-world challenges.

The 11-week internship program culminated in an immersive experience that included an “idea file” that explores the true origin and “soul” of connectivity.

The students took a broad view, presenting connectivity as an element of mankind’s psychological needs. We were encouraged to think about the various forms connectivity has taken on over the last century. And how our human desire for connectivity is a factor of time, fear and efficiency.

The ideas, concepts and materials presented by these students are helping fuel our ideation sessions at The Helix and helping us take a new approach to some of the industry challenges we are tackling.

See the collaboration in action:

 

What industry challenges are you facing? Comment on this post and let’s leverage this form of connectivity to think creatively about new approaches to tackling them.

Safety codes for flammable refrigerants are under revision; HFC phase-down continues

Flammable refrigerant alternatives are becoming increasingly viable as global environmental regulations push the HVACR industry toward low-GWP refrigerants. Naturally occurring hydrocarbons (HC) such as propane (R-290) and a new class of hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant blends are among the most likely flammable refrigerants to be considered as replacements. Since these low-GWP options have varying degrees of flammability, they’re subject to requisite standards to ensure safe operating and handling protocols.

Safety-Codes

In the current industry landscape, there are a number of organizations that have developed codes and standards to manage the safe use of flammable refrigerants. Since the majority of today’s safety standards were developed prior to the increased emphasis on green refrigerant alternatives, many are now currently under revision to include A2L and A3 refrigerants with the intent to evaluate their potential use with modern equipment, applications and system architectures.

While we can’t predict the extent of the code changes, we can report on the most relevant safety standards currently under revision:

ASHRAE Standard 34
In the U.S., ASHRAE Standard 34 defines the flammability and toxicity classification of refrigerants, with the letters A and B designating lower and higher toxicity, and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 denoting the level of flammability from none, lower and higher flammability, respectively. For example, R-290 is classified as A3, meaning it has lower toxicity and higher flammability. This standard was recently updated to include the flammability subclass of 2L for refrigerants that burn slower than those designated as Class 2. Newer HFO blends, such as R-1234yf, fall into this A2L classification.

ASHRAE Standard 15
ASHRAE Standard 15 is the U.S. safety standard for refrigeration system design, construction, installation and operation. It adopts the classifications set forth in ASHRAE 34, and is under revision in part due to the inclusion of the A2L classification. The current standard also prohibits the use of A3 and B3 refrigerants except where approved by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Once Standard 15 is revised, ASHRAE will propose revising the building model codes in the U.S.

UL standards
UL 1995 is the most recent Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing pertaining to HVACR; it does not address flammable refrigerants. However, it is being revised in accordance with the international standard, IEC 60335-2-40, which is currently under revision to include the introduction of A2Ls.

International standards
In addition to the IEC revision mentioned, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is in the process of revising its codes that affect heating and cooling equipment, commercial refrigeration appliances, and ice and ice cream machines, including: IEC 60335-2-89 and IEC 60335-2-24. It’s widely anticipated that the standards around charge limits — for both A3 and A2L refrigerants — will be included in the IEC’s revisions.

While exact timing on regulatory matters is difficult to predict, we expect some movement in these areas through 2017 due to the urgency of HC and HFO adoption.

New SNAP proposal

The EPA recently issued another SNAP proposal1 regarding the listing status of certain high-GWP refrigerants deemed as “unacceptable” in specific applications. Although the new proposal is relatively smaller in scope, there are a few potential impacts to be aware of, including:

  • Listing of R-290 as an acceptable alternative in commercial ice makers, water coolers and very low-temperature refrigeration equipment
  • Exempting R-290 from the Clean Air Act’s section 608 venting prohibition
  • R-404A will be unacceptable in soft-serve, frozen carbonated beverage and slush machines as of Jan. 1, 2021
  • R-404A will be unacceptable in cold storage warehouse by Jan. 1, 2023

Per usual, the EPA will accept public comments to the proposal for 45 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register.

This blog originally appeared in our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the issue in its entirety.

Reference

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-03/documents/snap_action_factsheet.pdf

Rajan Rajendran
V.P.,Systems Innovation Center And Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies

 

 

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