Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Rajan Rajendran’

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.


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.


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.



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



Exploring the Potential of CO2 Transcritical Booster Systems

By Rajan Rajendran

We installed a CO2 transcritical booster system to anchor our supermarket module at our recently opened Helix Innovation Center for several reasons. It has the potential to provide an efficient, eco-friendly refrigeration source for medium- and low-temp display cases, walk-ins and freezers. But that’s only the beginning. We designed our CO2 transcritical booster system to not only meet the entire air conditioning and heating needs of the supermarket module, we’re also reclaiming its exhaust heat for the facility’s hot water and snow melt system beneath the sidewalks.


We also chose CO2 because we feel it has the potential for much broader applications than what is commonly thought in the industry today. Our system is designed with the flexibility to demonstrate and exploit these possibilities.

CO2 transcritical booster systems have gained wide acceptance in northern climates throughout the world. As a natural refrigerant with near zero global warming potential, CO2 is becoming a preferred option for retailers seeking to meet sustainability goals and take regulatory compliance out of the equation. But with a critical point of 87.8 °F, special measures are required to keep CO2 systems operating at high efficiencies above this temperature.

This is the reason very few retailers have attempted to deploy CO2 systems in warmer regions. It’s also one of the limitations with CO2 transcritical booster systems that we are determined to eliminate.

Like every industry module in The Helix, the supermarket is an entity unto itself, meaning that the power coming into the module is completely isolated. This allows us to measure the power consumed by the store on its own, while further isolating the energy consumption of any one piece of equipment. Because everything is within this controlled environment, we’re able to evaluate the performance of the CO2 transcritical booster system in the supermarket and the larger building envelope.

What all this means to our customers is that they now have a real-world test lab for designing the ideal refrigeration system for their supermarkets, simulating the conditions and environments that are most challenging without risking product loss or potential damage to their brand. While today the system is CO2 based, we have the ability to change the refrigerant as well as the system architecture. We hope that this opportunity will only spawn new ideas and open the doors to further innovation.

This blog is a summary of the article Exploring the Potential of CO2 Transcritical Booster Systems from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to learn more about the supermarket module at our recently opened Helix Innovation Center.

Montreal Protocol Commits to HFC Management Amendment

By Rajan Rajendran

For more than a year, we’ve discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) actions to prohibit the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in certain commercial refrigeration and air conditioning applications, as well as expand the list of low-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives. But while these actions have focused on U.S. and North American initiatives, the move to limit HFCs is also picking up steam on a global level.


Last November at the 27th international meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Article 5 (developing) and non-Article 5 (developed) nations alike came together and committed to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions from HFCs.1

The meeting concluded with an agreement to phase down HFC consumption by completing an amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2016.

It’s an important reminder that a global commitment to responsible environmental stewardship is nothing new. First signed on September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol treaty has served as an example of decades-long cooperation among world governments, industry and the environmental community. With every country within the United Nations charter a signatory to the agreement, it is considered one of the most effective multi-lateral environmental treaties ever negotiated.

The original treaty’s first order of business was to achieve a rapid phase-out of ozone-depleting substances — particularly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — by replacing them with HFC-based alternatives. While scientists are projecting a full restoration of the ozone by 2050,2 they are also cautioning against the continued widespread global use of HFC refrigerants due to their environmental dangers.

As we know, HFCs are used in everything from air conditioners and refrigerators to foam insulation and fire protection systems. And while the U.S. and the European Union are well down the path of phasing out HFC use in specific applications, the demand for these technologies continues to grow in developing countries where they provide added health, safety, comfort and productivity benefits.

The Montreal Protocol’s success was founded on its reliance on sound scientific reviews, ongoing technology assessments and a funding mechanism to assist developing countries. The Parties of the Protocol’s decision to address the HFC issue with an amendment in 2016 is largely focused on helping developing countries make the transition to low-GWP technologies, while accelerating HFC phase-down schedules in developed countries.

While the details of the amendment are still unclear, it is certain that efforts to phase down HFCs will soon have a global driver. Many of us in the U.S. are already in the process of reducing HFCs and therefore have a head start in making this transition. As negotiations continue to take place throughout the year and an amendment to the Montreal Protocol is drafted, we will keep you updated on its progress and the implications to our industry.

 This blog is a summary of the article Montreal Protocol Commits to HFC Management Amendment from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to learn more about the amendment to the Montreal Protocol.


%d bloggers like this: