SAN FRANCISCO — Star Refrigeration Group announced that it has launched a new United States subsidiary, Azane Inc., to manufacture and supply its “low-charge ammonia” technology in the U.S.

The company developed the technology to meet the environmental and legislative challenges that the HVACR industry was facing as Europe started the phaseout of R-22 refrigerant.

The technology is being introduced to the U.S. market as the U.S. refrigeration industry begins to see the effects of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) R-22 phaseout program. The EPA’s phaseout timetable for R-22 will gradually decrease its production until a complete ban comes into force in 2020. The cost of R-22 is expected to continue to rise and existing R-22 refrigeration systems will become uneconomical before the substance is banned completely.

Star said its Azanechiller and Azanefreezer are factory-built industrial refrigeration packages which are both highly efficient and environmentally friendly. The design uses patented technology to deliver low cost of ownership by minimizing operating costs over 25+ years.

All Azane packages use the natural refrigerant ammonia and have been designed to operate with as little as one-tenth the charge of a traditional refrigeration system, according to the company.

Star said ammonia is also future-proof. The natural refrigerant has zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and zero global warming potential (GWP), and it is not under threat of a future ban, unlike HFCs.

Derek Hamilton, U.S. business development manager at Azane, said, “The good news is that there are plenty of options available to allow a smooth transition away from R-22. Low charge ammonia is one of a number of options available and we are always happy to talk to our customers and guide them through the various options. There are a wide range of ‘drop in’ refrigerant options that are available; this typically consists of blends of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

“However HFCs have an uncertain future due to their contribution to global warming. The U.S. government has stated that a reduction in HFC consumption is one of the key targets in their plans to address climate change. While a firm timetable is yet to be published, it is only a matter of time before restrictions on the use of HFCs come into place as has already happened in Europe at the end of last year. Our approach is to look at the overall strategy of a business to ensure that they invest in the technology which is right for their needs.”

With manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania, the efficient packaged ammonia chillers and freezers are fabricated following U.S. standards and regulations and supplied nationwide. Azane Inc. also provides dedicated technical support, site surveys, proposals, and training to HVACR contractors, consultants, and operators and end users.

The chillers and freezers can be used in applications including HVAC, food processing and freezing, process cooling, refrigerated warehouses, ice rinks, and more.

Hamilton added, “In the USA, the use of ammonia has historically been restricted to large, distributed refrigeration systems. These systems are typically site-installed and require a central machinery room to house the refrigeration equipment. These systems also tend to use ‘pumped circulation’ technology which requires a relatively large quantity of ammonia.

“The advent of low charge ammonia means that ammonia is now being considered in applications which were typically the domain of commercial systems. These commercial systems often use the HFC refrigerants mentioned above. Some users of HFC systems may be reluctant to switch to an ammonia system because of safety concerns; however, the reality is that ammonia systems in general are very safe and the low-charge, packaged approach alleviates these concerns further by using the minimum amount of ammonia and ensuring that it stays within the refrigeration system.”

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Publication date: 5/12/2014

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