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Looking at potential governmental regulations, Keilly Witman, vice president for marketing for EOS Climate, said she saw no short-term changes regarding any global consensus to include HFCs in the Montreal Protocol in order to phase down production. But with that unlikely to be resolved in the near future, there could be action in areas in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently has authority, she said. This could include the delisting of HFCs 404 and 507 for use in new commercial systems and retrofits because of their global warming potential (GWP) which is considered high.
At the same time, she suggested it is not necessary to start retrofitting systems out of HFCs especially if the systems are running efficiently. The goal she said should be to have a refrigerant management plan.
For new stores, that plan can include using the lowest GWP refrigerant that meets the store’s desired performance needs. For HFCs, she suggested considering the HFC-407 series of refrigerants or “better still, move to natural refrigerants.”
For existing stores, Witman urged continuing to retrofit away from use of HCFC-22, and stockpile that refrigerant to cover the store’s future demands. She then said to consider low-GWP refrigerants and prioritize leaktightness.
The range of refrigerant options for small commercial equipment was explored by Daryl Erbs, director of engineering for The Manitowoc Co. Inc. When looking at HCs, CO2, ammonia, HFOs, and low GWPs, decisions have to be based on “public image objectives, first costs, energy efficiencies, system design changes, and the regulatory environment,” he said.
Historical research at Manitowoc, he said, involves the use of CO2 in ice equipment including the development of a prototype unit with a two-stage rotary compressor, copper tubing, and an electronic expansion valve. More recent research involves propane and HCs in ice machines and blended ice smoothie refrigeration equipment, he said.
Scott Martin, director of sustainable technologies for Hillphoenix Inc., focused on CO2 supermarket refrigeration in North America, referencing the evolution of equipment using distributed technology to reduce HFC charges. He also spoke on systems with secondary glycol, and CO2 with HFCs used in the primary CO2 cascade systems with HFC primary only, to a CO2 booster system that uses no HFCs. In the latter approach, he noted lower gas cooler temperatures. In the configuration is an adiabatic gas cooler to allow for more subcritical operating hours and parallel compression of CO2 flash gas.
Charles Holcomb, segment manager for Duke Energy, discussed the role of decision makers and energy costs in future innovations. He urged them to look at incentive programs, electronically commutated motors (ECMs), and issues related to coolers, lighting, and HVAC. In all instances, benchmarking and measurement is needed. As he noted, “The greenest kWh is the one not used.”
The move to naturals such as CO2 and HCs is coming, said Jeff Staub, applications engineering manager for Danfoss. And it is important to prepare stakeholders for what could be a variety of options. He noted, “There is no single refrigerant that fits all applications and there is no single refrigerant that is best for individual applications.” He said there are stores coming online with transcritical CO2 and self-contained systems with propane.
In dealing with natural refrigerants, he urged understanding the refrigerant properties, the need to design for safety, and to design for material compatibility. The process involves gathering information, having controls and components designed for the refrigerant, understanding the application, and designing for efficiency.
Publication date: 11/18/2013