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European Retailer Selects A2L as the Basis of Its Refrigerant Transition

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

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

As the transition from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) continues in the U.S., commercial refrigeration stakeholders are actively pursuing emerging low-GWP alternatives. Among these include a variety of synthetic and natural options, from A1s with a familiar footprint to mildly flammable A2Ls to the naturals A3 (R-290) and CO2 — all of which can meet very-low GWP thresholds but have varying characteristics which dictate system design architectures. In our most recent E360 Webinar, a leading European retailer provided details about how they chose an A2L refrigerant as the basis for their organization’s refrigerant transition.

Although A2L safety standards have yet to be finalized in the U.S., the case study presented by Brian Churchyard, senior manager of engineering and energy of UK-based ASDA stores, provided a useful framework for how U.S. retailers could follow a similar path to regulatory compliance and sustainable refrigeration. He detailed ASDA’s journey toward lower-GWP refrigeration, which ultimately concluded in the selection of A2L refrigerant R-454A with a GWP of 238.

Creating a new refrigeration design standard

Churchyard explained how ASDA formed a collective working group comprised of numerous agencies, private businesses and industry experts to conduct a detailed assessment of A2Ls. The group developed a design standard for the safe application of their chosen refrigerant, which was based on existing data from the use of R-290 (even though A2L flammability levels were well below those of R-290).

After comparing the performance of A2L refrigerants to other alternatives through numerous trials, the ASDA team concluded that their new design standard achieved their objectives of lowering capital investment, energy consumption, lifecycle costs and carbon emissions. It’s important to note that while R-454A does not have the lowest GWP of the available A2L alternatives, it offered performance improvements that helped to meet these sustainability goals while adhering to the EU’s F-Gas regulatory requirements.

Moving to an A2L also required a reduction in refrigerant charge, which dictated that ASDA would also need to transition from large, centralized rack systems to smaller distributed remote systems. Churchyard said that other benefits of a decentralized approach included limiting the potential for leaks while eliminating risk by having a single point of failure.

Focus on safety and leak mitigation

Of course, safety is a primary concern when using a flammable or mildly flammable refrigerant, and minimizing leaks was an essential part of ASDA’s design strategy. Churchyard stressed that leak prevention was a top priority in all their refrigeration system trials — whether it was an A1 HFC, CO2, hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) or A3 refrigerant. Preventing leaks not only minimizes the potential for emissions, but also ensures that the system is operating at full capacity and efficiency.

Churchyard said that in the event of a leak, display cases are equipped with a modular alarm system integrated into the case controller. If leakage is detected within a case, the system will activate an alarm that effectively triggers a shut-off valve that stops refrigerant flow to a particular display case. In addition, leakage thresholds are set at such a low level as to prevent the potential for A2L ignition. Quality inherent among system joints, connections and proper installation was a major collective focus of the new design standard, which included remote distributed refrigeration plants and their associated display cases.

Churchyard said case upgrades were often the first part of their refrigerant transition strategy. When store operators identified existing HFC cases that needed to be replaced, the first step was to upgrade to cases that were compatible for A2L use — even though they were still using an A1. Then, when the distributed A2L refrigeration plants were installed, these stores could safely transition over to the use of the R-454A A2L refrigerant.

ASDA has been leveraging this strategy since 2019, when it was recognized as the first retailer to adopt an all-A2L refrigerant strategy. To learn more details about ASDA’s successful refrigerant transition, please view this webinar.

[Webinar Recap] Explore the Next Generation in Supervisory Controls

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Building management and refrigeration control platforms have become essential tools of the trade in food retail operations. From providing visibility to key systems, faults, statuses, and alarms to fine-tuning performance with advanced algorithms, building control strategies and network connectivity, these platforms give operators and technicians the information they need to maintain efficient store operation. In a recent webinar, co-hosted with Sam Smith, Emerson’s director of product management for digital solutions, we explored the next-generation capabilities of Emerson’s new Lumity™ E3 supervisory control.

Unified control platform for E3 and site supervisor

Earlier this year, Emerson launched the Lumity brand with the goals of providing our customers with data-driven insights to inform operational decision making while helping them ensure food safety and quality. The E3 is among the first products to be launched under the Lumity umbrella. Built upon the foundation of the Lumity supervisory control software platform, the E3 shares the same software with site supervisor. Thus, end-users only need to learn one software platform. Any enhancements made to the software will be available in all available control devices and accessories.

Familiar form and fit with enhanced functionalities

The E3 was designed to provide a true drop-in hardware replacement of the E2, offering the same familiar form and fit, but with greatly enhanced functionalities. The back of the E3 enclosure is designed to fit into existing panels to eliminate the need for new wiring while reducing installation costs and headaches via:

  • Identical wiring holes, mounting points and vents
  • Fits into existing panel cut-out
  • Total of four COM ports for connected devices with two isolated COM ports
  • Fully backward compatible with MultiFlex and IONet boards

The front of the device features an integrated 10-inch, touch-screen display that provides on-site access to the software interface. Web-enabled capability supports online remote visibility from a web browser or mobile device, delivering the same user-friendly experience, regardless of how it is accessed. Compared to the E2, the E3 processing power is 12 times faster and includes 16 times the built-in memory for faster response time and increased storage capabilities. Several models are available, depending on the type of control needed:

  • Building control (BX)
  • Refrigeration control (RX)
  • Combined building and refrigeration controller (CX)

Whether operators prefer a distributed or centralized control architecture — or some combination of the two — the E3 has the built-in flexibility to communicate to upstream and downstream devices. Data integration protocols include: Rest MQTT and SOAP, which allows the E3 to serve as a gateway of communication throughout the network to deliver insights into every aspect of store operation.

Empowering decisions with insights

The E3 is designed to empower stakeholders of all disciplines and skill levels to take decisive actions through a variety of intuitive features. Store operators can manage day-to-day performance while technicians can take a much deeper dive to optimize system performance, perform detailed analyses, and fine-tune facility controls.

  • Floor Plans: Access 2D/3D views of store floor plans to monitor each device, locate active alarms, and streamline your team’s prioritization and response.
  • Graphical Scheduling: Easily update, set, and duplicate schedules via simple click-and-drag functionality and a graphical interface.
  • Smart Alarms: Review straightforward alarm notifications — not cryptic or confusing codes — to detect, prioritize, troubleshoot, and resolve issues.
  • Performance Meter: Monitor refrigeration asset performance from one dashboard to verify refrigeration fixtures and equipment are performing as expected.
  • Site Aggregator: Bring the entire control network into a consolidated view — includes connectivity to legacy Emerson devices (such as E2 controllers) as well as third-party devices.

To learn how you can leverage the power of the new Lumity E3 supervisory control and software platform in your facility, view this free webinar.

[New Webinar] Make the Transition From E2 to E3

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Facility management and supervisory systems have become essential tools for managing food retail facilities and their critical refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems. To grow profit margins and achieve an ever-expanding list of operational and sustainability goals, retail operators must keep these systems running at peak performance and precisely optimized according to building occupancy schedules. In our next webinar, my Emerson colleague Sam Smith, director of product management, digital solutions, and I will discuss how upgrading from the industry-standard E2 to the new Lumity™ E3 supervisory control can help facility managers to achieve their goals while seamlessly running their day-to-day operations. This webinar will take place on Thursday, April 15 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT.

Supermarket and convenience store customers depend on their preferred retailers to consistently deliver the high-quality, fresh and safe food offerings that they’ve come to expect. In addition to providing a comprehensive food selection, a retailer’s ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences in all aspects of their operation — from comfortable in-store temperatures to welcoming lighting — is part of what can differentiate them from their competition.

At the same time, store operators need to keep a close eye on other factors that can impact their bottom lines, such as refrigeration system performance, energy and other utility consumption levels, store lighting and occupancy schedules, refrigerant leak detection and much more. Establishing connectivity among critical systems via a building management system (BMS) and smart controls is essential to enable real-time visibility into all these key parameters of success.

That’s why Emerson is pleased to introduce the Lumity E3 supervisory control — the next generation in facility management and refrigeration controls. The E3 greatly expands upon the widely adopted E2 with more power, robust control capabilities, faster speeds and seamless connectivity. The E3 is powered by Emerson’s new Lumity supervisory control software and gives end users an intuitive touch-screen display on-site and a web-friendly interface for remote accessibility.

In our upcoming webinar — which is designed for end-users, contractors and OEMs — we will demonstrate how this significant upgrade places advanced control over compressor groups, condensers, walk-in units, HVAC and lighting systems at their fingertips.

Attendees will learn:

  • New features and functionalities of the Lumity supervisory control platform
  • How Lumity supervisory control software brings all of Emerson’s supervisory control devices under one software interface
  • Why the E3 was designed as a true drop-in replacement of the E2
  • How to gain instant visibility to all key systems, faults, statuses, and alarms
  • How the Lumity supervisory control platform enables control of critical systems with advanced refrigeration algorithms, building control strategies and network connectivity

Register now for this informative and free webinar and visit our website at Emerson.com/E3 to learn more.

 

[E360 Webinar Wrap-up] Refrigerant Rulemaking Recap: Regulatory Uptick Expected for 2021

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

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

 

The commercial refrigeration and air conditioning sectors are currently experiencing an active period of refrigerant rulemaking. As we move through the first quarter of 2021, our industry is evaluating a variety of regulatory activities and climate initiatives — at both the state and federal levels — that govern the transition to lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and the safe use of flammable alternatives. I recently co-hosted an E360 webinar with Jennifer Butsch, Emerson’s regulatory affairs director, to discuss current developments and explore their potential impacts on our industry. We were joined by Helen Walter-Terrinoni, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

As global regulatory efforts to phase down the use of HFC refrigerants continue in earnest, the transition to alternatives with lower GWP is gaining momentum in the U.S. At the state level, California is preparing for its next phase of rulemaking, while more U.S. Climate Alliance states leverage the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rules 20 and 21 as the bases for their own environmental initiatives. In addition, a new presidential administration and the passing of new federal legislation represent significant shifts in U.S. regulatory dynamics — resuming our global participation in combating climate change and giving the EPA authority to govern HFCs.

But the progression of refrigerant rulemaking along both state and federal lines continues to create complexity for an industry that seeks guidance in understanding and applying an ever-evolving, complex mix of regulations.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) Seeks to Finalize Proposals

In 2019, California was the first state to adopt EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21 in their entirety. Since then, CARB has developed additional proposals to meet its stated 2030 emissions-reduction targets. For commercial refrigeration, these proposed refrigerant regulations target the installation of new refrigeration systems greater than 50lbs:

  • 150 GWP limit for systems installed in new facilities
  • In existing facilities, food retailers must choose from one of the following company-wide reduction targets:
    • Reduce their weighted average GWP below 1,400
    • Achieve a 55% or greater reduction in their greenhouse gas potential (GHGp) below 2019 baseline levels by 2030
  • Other GWP limits for systems in existing facilities include a 750 limit for ice rinks and a 1500 – 2000 limit for industrial refrigeration

In air conditioning applications, the CARB proposal targets a 750 GWP limit across multiple end uses in the coming years:

  • 2023: room AC and dehumidifiers
  • 2024: AC chillers (consistent with SNAP Rule 21)
  • 2025: residential and commercial AC
  • 2026: variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems

CARB has also introduced its Refrigerant Recycle, Recovery and Reuse (R4) program, which proposes new air conditioning equipment in 2023 and 2024 to use reclaimed R-410A refrigerant in an amount equal to 10% of equipment operating charge in California. In addition, CARB has stated that it will expand its R4 program by introducing new rulemaking this year.

U.S. Climate Alliance States Adopt Legislation

Among the 25 member states that have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, nine have finalized legislation for adopting SNAP Rules 20 and 21 into law. Like the original EPA rules, the timings of enforcement dates are end-use specific and designed to be phased in over several years. But because the start dates of these rules differ among the nine member states, our industry faces an increasingly complex patchwork of compliance schedules.

As Walter-Terrinoni pointed out in the webinar, the prospect of new federal legislation may give these and other states the option to pursue a consistent, nationwide approach to the refrigeration phase-down. States could place their focus on the local level, where they can further the advancement of building codes and safety standards.

Federal HFC Phase-down Takes AIM

Regulatory activity is also picking up at the federal level, starting with the EPA’s proposed SNAP Rule 23, which reaffirms its commitment to approve low-GWP refrigerants. The proposal lists several mildly flammable (A2L) refrigerants, including R-452B, R-454A, R-454B, R-454C, R-457 and R-32 as acceptable, subject to use conditions in new residential and light commercial air conditioners and heat pumps. For retail food refrigeration — medium-temperature, stand-alone units — SNAP Rule 23 lists A1 refrigerants R-448A, R-449A and R-449B as acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits. Emerson and other industry stakeholders have asked for further clarification on these restrictions, as these A1s have already been listed as acceptable without limitations in many other commercial refrigeration applications.

As part of major pandemic relief legislation, the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act was passed and signed into law in late 2020. This legislation gives the EPA the authority to phase down HFC production and consumption limits in a manner consistent with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol within nine months. It also authorizes the EPA to regulate HFCs through sector based rulemaking and establish standards for HFC management — servicing, repair, recover, recycle and reclaim — similar to CARB’s R4 program. This is welcome news for our industry, as it paves the way for a federally guided, low-GWP refrigerant transition, which would minimize the complexities of differing state-led regulations.

Under the new Biden administration, the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Agreement and is taking steps to ratify the Kigali Amendment. These are among many early indications of this administration’s commitment to combat climate change at home and abroad.

A2L, A3 Standards and Codes Progress

With the industry moving toward the use of flammable A2L and A3 refrigerants to achieve lower-GWP goals, the technical committees and governing bodies who provide guidelines on how to safely use these refrigerants and related equipment are currently updating their safety standards. Among the updates that many are closely watching are the proposed changes to the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) 60335-2-89 standard, which would increase the charge limits in self-contained and remote refrigeration applications. While the industry expects this proposal potentially to be finalized by the end of the year, it’s important to remember that once established, these standards will take several years to make their way into the building codes and local standards needed to permit the widespread use of flammable refrigerants.

To learn more details about each of these important regulatory developments, please view our on-demand webinar.

[New E360 Webinar] Will Provide Regulatory Update on Refrigerant Rulemaking and Climate Initiatives

Jennifer Butsch | Regulatory Affairs Director

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

The environmental regulations landscape continues to be a source of great uncertainty for the commercial refrigeration and AC industries. Sorting through the latest developments in an ever-evolving mix of global policy, federal and state rulemaking — for both refrigerant and energy efficiency regulations — is a complicated task. In our next E360 webinar, my colleague Dr. Rajan Rajendran, Emerson’s vice president of systems innovation center and sustainability, and I will explore recent regulatory activities and help you to understand their potential impacts on your business. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST.

From all indications, 2021 is shaping up to be a transitional year among the federal and state regulations governing commercial refrigeration and AC applications in the U.S. At the federal level, the recent enactment of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act) gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and establish sector-based limits. In addition, the introduction of the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 23 proposal in 2020 was an indication of the agency’s desire to approve certain mildly flammable (A2L) refrigerants as acceptable for use — subject to use conditions — in new residential and light commercial air conditioners and heat pumps.

For several years, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has stepped up its efforts to phase down the use of HFC refrigerants. This started with the adoption of EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21 and now continues with a proposal that calls for increased HFC and refrigerant global warming potential (GWP) reductions, which could take effect as soon as January 1, 2022. As a result, retailers in California may soon face the prospect of making significant changes to their refrigeration systems — in at least some of their stores — to achieve compliance.

While retailers outside of the state of California currently may not face an imminent regulatory mandate, member states of the U.S. Climate Alliance are moving forward with their own HFC phase-down initiatives, which include the adoption of EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21. And with a new administration taking office, we are also likely to see a new tone and urgency with respect to broader climate initiatives, as well as the potential for greater participation in global environmental policies.

All these moving pieces set the stage for a potentially active period of regulatory developments in 2021 and beyond. The primary goals of our upcoming E360 webinar are to explore these developments in more detail, place them into their proper context, and offer insights to help you understand the impacts on your business.

Attendees will learn:

  • Status of CARB regulations/proposals and their potential impacts
  • Review of U.S. Climate Alliance state activities and adoption of EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21
  • Overview of AIM Act and its potential impacts
  • Update on the codes and standards for flammable refrigerants, such as UL 60335-2-89 and ASHRAE 15
  • Impacts that a new administration may have on climate initiatives

Register now for this informative and free webinar.

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