Join us for our next E360 Webinar, “Using Technology to Help Meet Modern Refrigeration Challenges” on Thursday, December 7 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.
Whether you’re a supermarket, restaurant, mixed retailer or convenience store operator, successfully navigating today’s commercial refrigeration landscape is no small feat. From regulatory complexities, new refrigerant considerations and energy-efficiency targets to food safety requirements and servicing frustrations, today’s operators face a perfect storm of refrigeration challenges.
The silver lining in this scenario is that these complexities have ushered in a new era of refrigeration technologies. In the past several years, equipment and component manufacturers have made great strides in developing modern equipment and system technologies that address many of these concerns.
In our next E360 Webinar, I will take a closer look at a wide range of technologies and explain how they can be used to solve today’s countless operator challenges. Examples include:
Electronic controls for temperature tracking and smart defrosting
On-board compressor diagnostics for improved servicing
Energy-efficient scroll compression technology
Multi-refrigerant compressor capabilities
As we’ve discussed previously in our E360 webinars, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to refrigeration system design. But, as the industry continues its transition to the next generation of refrigeration architectures, many of these technologies will become integral to these systems.
So, if you’re interested in learning how you can leverage these technologies to reduce operational complexities and address your specific challenges, please join me on Thursday, December 7 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.
Emerson recently wrapped up its fourth E360 Forum of 2016 on Oct. 12 in Tucson, Ariz. The daylong event was attended by more than 100 industry stakeholders — including wholesalers, equipment manufacturers, contractors and end users — and featured expert-led breakout sessions in food retail, foodservice and commercial AC market segments.
Emerson’s Don Newlon, vice president and general manager of refrigeration, kicked off the Forum by discussing the sheer magnitude of changes that confront the refrigeration industry today. Between now and 2020, it will be faced with nine regulatory requirements related to energy reductions and refrigerant phase-outs. Achieving compliance will require unique strategies for reach-ins, ice machines, walk-ins and supermarket refrigeration equipment. Don explained how the industry is surmounting these challenges by balancing the four variables of the E360 platform: energy, environment, equipment and economics.
The Tucson E360 Forum came on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) actions to change the status of refrigerants used in refrigeration and AC applications. Notably, SNAP Final Rule 21 added R-290 (propane) to the list of acceptable substitutes for self-contained commercial ice machines, further expanding the hydrocarbon’s applicability in commercial refrigeration.
Emerson’s Dr. Rajan Rajendran, vice president of system innovation center and sustainability, helped place this latest action into a broader context with a timely update on refrigerants. Rajan fielded many questions throughout his talk and discussed the global efforts to limit refrigerants with high global warming potential, specifically referring to an HFC phase-down amendment proposed by the parties to the Montreal Protocol — which incidentally came to pass just days after this event.
Joe Carbonara, editorial director at Foodservice Equipment and Supplies magazine, delivered an informative keynote address about consumer and operator trends in foodservice. Mr. Carbonara started his talk by reminding attendees that restaurants are everywhere, from hospitals and retirement homes to colleges and, of course, public restaurants. While smaller kitchen spaces and multi-function equipment are becoming the norm for operators, consumers continue to seek a combination of quality food, fast-casual dining, convenience and value. To be successful, operators need to develop strategies to deliver their core offerings to their unique customer base — a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works.
The bulk of the afternoon was comprised of a diverse program of breakout sessions, giving attendees the opportunity to get answers to their specific questions. Whether their focus was on implementing sustainable systems, better understanding leak detection or evaluating the potential of R-290, there truly was a breakout session for nearly every industry concern.
If you were unable to attend the recent E360 Forum in Tucson, you still can access its presentation decks in the archive section of our website. Be sure to watch for announcements of our 2017 E360 Forum locations, and make plans to join us if you can.
The commercial HVAC industry is facing significant changes to energy efficiency regulations, safety standards and refrigerant changes over the next several years. In our next E360 Webinar, “Are You Ready for the Upcoming Efficiency Regulations and Refrigerant Changes in Commercial HVAC?”, we will look at the convergence of these activities, their timing and what the potential impacts are to commercial HVAC operators. David Hules, Emerson Climate Technologies’ director of commercial marketing, air conditioning business, will present this informative Webinar on August 2 at 2 p.m. EDT. The Webinar will begin by outlining key industry trends and then discuss options available to address imminent regulations.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), HVACR comprises 50 percent of all energy consumed in U.S. commercial and residential buildings. On Jan. 1, 2018, the DOE will nationally adopt the IEER portion of the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 standard in A/C packaged and split systems to help mitigate this energy consumption. Currently, this building energy code has been adopted only minimally at a state level.
Meanwhile, the global movement to phase down hydcrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants will soon impact the A/C industry, specifically, proposed actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to change the status (delist) of common chiller refrigerants such as HFC-I34a, R-410A and R-407A. As a result, the industry is moving toward new alternative refrigerants that have a much lower global warming potential, among these being mildly flammable A2L refrigerants. In response, national and international standards are under revision to evaluate the safety of A2L fluids as manufacturers move to develop A2L-based equipment.
The Webinar will also present incentive opportunities for complying with the Consortium for Energy Efficiency’s unitary specification for A/C and heat pumps that went into effect earlier this year — specifically, the energy efficiency ratios and integrated energy efficiency ratios for part load efficiencies per size category, system type and tier level. To achieve these efficiencies, there are a number of technology options on the table that will be discussed, including: multi-speed blower and condenser fans, modulated compressors, large coil heat exchangers and electronic controls.
The impacts of achieving these higher part load system efficiencies will also be explained:
Potentially higher first costs, yet lower operating costs
Increased in system footprint from larger heat exchanger surface area
Reduction in system refrigeration circuits
Increased use of mechanical modulation and variable speed compression technology
Finally, the Webinar will present the timing of these converging regulations and provide an opportunity for attendees to get answers to their specific concerns.
Register to join this informative Webinar taking place August 2 at 2 p.m. EDT, and don’t let the coming changes catch you unprepared.
As R-290-based refrigeration becomes more commonplace in the E.U., is the U.S. far behind?
The use of propane (R-290) as a refrigerant in commercial refrigeration is the subject of much debate in the U.S. Its A3, flammable classification conjures up negative connotations in the minds of operators, technicians and public officials alike — beliefs that when examined closer are largely unfounded. But in Europe, the use of R-290 based equipment is well into its second decade and continues to play a big role. Some leading retailers are even making it a cornerstone of their refrigeration portfolio. How this may influence R-290 perceptions and its subsequent adoption in the U.S. remains to be seen. We can, however, evaluate R-290’s early adoption in Europe and speculate on its path toward commercialization in the U.S.
When it comes to adherence to environmentally sound practices, the European Union (E.U.) and its member countries have consistently been ahead of the curve. The E.U.’s F-gas regulations were among the world’s first actions to phase down hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants in favor of low global warming potential (GWP) natural alternatives. At the same time, consumer, OEM and retailer preferences for sustainable goods and eco-friendly systems contributed to driving compliance with these regulations. It’s no surprise then that Europe has led the way in the adoption of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration — including R-290.
From an environmental perspective, R-290 is among an elite class of viable green alternatives to many of the industry’s most common high-GWP refrigerants. It’s a naturally occurring hydrocarbon (HC) with a GWP of 3 and 0 ozone depletion potential (ODP). R-290 is a highly refined grade of the fossil fuel propane, and although flammable, it is non-toxic in nature.
R-290’s green potential doesn’t stop there. Its excellent thermodynamic properties — such as pressure, low back pressure, volumetric capacity, capacity and coefficient of performance — are very similar to R-22, even outperforming it in certain parameters. In Emerson Climate Technologies’ test labs and published studies alike, R-290 consistently outperforms R-404A in energy efficiencies.
In the U.S., the R-290 picture is quite different. The U.S. is generally much more hesitant to view the IEC standard for the 150g charge limit as a rubber stamp to move forward with R-290 commercial refrigeration installations. In the absence of national R-290 safety standards, even applications with small charge limits are subject to the authority of state and local governance, as well as fire marshal jurisdiction — and these differ drastically from region to region.
As a result, commercial adoption has been limited primarily to the most established grocers, foodservice outlets and small format retailers who are 1) willing to absorb the cost required to achieve requisite safety assessments and certifications, and 2) seeking to meet corporate sustainability objectives.
In recent years, the U.S. regulatory climate has brought R-290 back into industry and public awareness. First, in 2011 the EPA listed R-290 as acceptable, subject to use conditions, for use in certain commercial refrigeration regulations, keeping the IEC recommendation for a 150g charge limit. More recently, the EPA also instituted the phase-down of R-404A and other common refrigerants over the next several years. On a parallel timetable, the DOE has mandated significant energy reductions in commercial refrigeration equipment, thereby favoring the use of systems and refrigerants that produce high energy efficiencies.
The combination of these two regulations is motivating OEMs and the entire refrigeration supply chain to try and meet both objectives in a single design cycle. While R-290 is one of the few approved refrigerants capable of satisfying both regulatory actions, the lack of a national safety standard is still a barrier toward wider U.S. adoption.
Efforts to establish national standards are in motion, not only for R-290, but potentially for a new class of A2L, (mildly flammable) hydrofluoroolefin refrigerant blends — some of which have yet to be EPA approved. UL, ASHRAE, ISO and IEC are all working to develop and evolve their standards to align with market trends, some of which may be finalized in the coming year.
Even with the existing barriers to R-290 adoption, the EPA approval of R-290 in 2011 prompted some of the larger foodservice and small format retailers to work through their OEMs to introduce light commercial equipment to the market. And with the promise of a true national standard, more OEMs are in the process of developing complete lines of R-290 based equipment.
As the E.U.’s international standards continue to evolve, the industry is appealing for the option to increase the 150g refrigerant charge limit to much higher allowable charges. Should this become enacted, there’s no question it will influence the emerging standards in the U.S., where the possibility of increasing the charge limit to 300g is already being discussed. This would add flexibility to system design and help transition R-290 to larger commercial applications.
One very important question remains to be answered: will the U.S. refrigeration industry allow the many benefits of R-290 to outweigh its perceived risks?
This blog is a summary of the article Europe’s Propane Refrigeration Proliferation from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the article in its entirety.
Director of Marketing
Emerson Climate Technologies
This is the second in a series of three posts sharing highlights from the 2016 E360 Annual Conference.
We focused on the changing regulatory landscape and the impact of emerging regulations on retail operations during the second day of the E360 Annual Conference.
In the spirit of collaboration and innovation, we brought together a panel of experts in food safety, energy and refrigerant management to explore what’s next in regulations. Since this conference is all about innovation, we used the latest technology to link a 500-person global audience to our 200-person live audience and host location at The Helix at the University of Dayton, and to our remote panelists at our Helix at Georgia Tech and a location in Washington, DC. And participants and facilitators managed other sessions on best practices including facility management, IoT and designing future-friendly alternative refrigerant systems.
For highlights from day two, please watch this video recap:
Looking ahead to our third and final day, all participants are eager to continue engaging in interactive discussions around critical issues that retailers are facing today.
How are new connected technologies helping your retail business address industry and regulatory changes? Let us know in the comments below or by sharing your perspective on social media.
For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.
Vice President of Marketing, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies
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