DALLAS — Government-imposed regulations have created a great deal of turmoil in the commercial refrigeration sector. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to delist specific gases in certain applications and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduces energy consumption reductions, the industry is left scrambling to comply.
“Commercial refrigeration is different today because of the magnitude of the changes being made, the speed by which these changes must be done, and the number of markets being impacted at the same time,” said Don Newlon, vice president of marketing and general manager of Emerson Climate Technologies’ integrated products division. “E360 is about having a forum to discuss the challenges we face today and propose the solutions of tomorrow.”
Rajan Rajendran, vice president, system innovation center and sustainability, Emerson Climate Technologies, said pending energy mandates and refrigerant regulations will significantly alter the future of commercial refrigeration — specifically in supermarket, walk-in, reach-in, and ice machine applications.
“From now until 2020, it’s going to be a very busy time for those in the refrigeration industry,” said Rajendran. “Walk-in coolers are facing an increase in efficiency of 20-40 percent, which goes into effect in 2020; stand-alone equipment, such as reach-in or self-contained units, must meet a 30-50 percent reduction in energy consumption in 2017; and ice machines will experience an increase of efficiency of 5-15 percent by 2018.”
In addition, the EPA is superimposing refrigerant restrictions that will impact supermarket systems in 2017, walk-in units in 2018, and stand-alone equipment in 2019 and 2020.
“As environmental focus has grown to include global warming concerns, the EPA has added GWP [global warming potential] as another important environmental indicator,” said Rajendran. “And, the EPA has not stated specific GWP values, but, based on what the EPA’s approved, we estimate supermarket and walk-in coolers will be restricted to gases of 2,500 GWP or less. Coolers operating on less than 2,200 Btu will be restricted to 600-GWP refrigerants and those operating at more than 2,200 Btu will be restricted to 1,500 GWP or less. While we think we can handle the 2,500-GWP target for supermarkets and walk-ins, we feel the potential cooler mandates will be much more strenuous to achieve.”
Regarding the future, Rajendran suggests those utilizing supermarket systems move to adopt R-407A/R-407F or even lower-GWP alternatives, like R-448A and R-449A. He also said the industry should expect CO2 use to increase and R-290 and ammonia trials to continue.
In stand-alone systems, he suggests operators request Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) approval for A1 R-404A-like replacements, such as R-448A and R-449A.
“Regarding R-404A, the burden is on us. We have to tell the EPA and DOE to communicate. It’d be great if the 2017 date was pushed back to 2020 so that all the EPA and DOE changes can be done in one shot. But, that request has to come from us. It’s not going to come from the DOE or EPA. The burden is on the public. We need to speak to our congressmen, to the EPA directly, and submit comments during public meetings. The more we do all of those things, the more they’ll listen.”
Joyce Wallace, North American marketing manager, Chemours Refrigerants, also called for industry-wide participation.
“If you have any concerns, I encourage you to voice your opinion to the EPA,” she said. “We anticipate the next round of EPA SNAP-approved refrigerants will be announced at some time this year. The EPA’s approach is by application, and they’ve been focused on delisting where there are available alternatives with lower GWP. The EPA’s trying to work with the industry in this transition, though I encourage you all to share your opinions.”
In their session, “How to Meet 2017-2020 Energy & Refrigerant Regulations,” Emerson’s Ani Jayanth, foodservice marketing manager, and Allen Wicher, director of foodservice marketing, said it’s important that contractors don’t forget to keep their focus on the end users.
“We need to make sure we’re serving our end users’ needs at the end of the day,” said Wicher. “They’re not going to be too engaged [with these regulations], but we need to communicate what we’re doing. These changes will be very visible as we’re going to implement fundamental system and parts changes, footprint changes, serviceability changes, and operational changes, you name it. The more transparent we are with all of this, the better off we’re all going to be.”
Jayanth agreed, stating customer communication is a very important part of this equation.
“DOE’s analysis shows costs will likely increase as a result of these changes,” he said. “At the end of the day, the end users, manufacturers, and dealers have to understand that we had to employ all of these levers to improve the systems as a whole. Before they get blindsided by the costs and extra equipment, we have to make them aware this is coming so they can mitigate it.”
In addition to the regulatory sessions, several other presentations, including “Trends in Refrigeration System Architecture and CO2,” “How Electronics are Transforming Equipment Diagnostics in HVACR,” “New Equipment Technologies that are Reducing Operating Costs,” and “Enterprise Management and Communicating Kitchens,” were offered.
Attendees have raved about the E360 Series’ informational approach.
“Some of the biggest takeaways were learning about the changes happening in the food service industry and how energy and environmental challenges are playing huge roles,” said Bryan Tonn, engineering manager, H&K Intl. “Seeing how these things are interconnected was an eye-opening experience.”
Tom Richgels, director of sales, RefPlus, said he absolutely recommends the E360 Forum. “It has applications, regardless of the type of company you have — whether you’re an OEM manufacturer, wholesale distributor, contractor, or consultant.”
John Rhodes, president of refrigeration, Emerson Climate Technologies, said now’s the time for the industry to translate its proof-of-concept designs into tangible courses of action.
“The dialogue will certainly continue, but now it will be more focused on identifying the specific solutions that will take us into the future of commercial refrigeration,” said Rhodes. “There are still many questions and moving pieces in this process, and it may take a while for the dust to settle, but, from a big-picture perspective, the time to start putting plans into action is now.”
SIDEBAR: The Impact of the U.S. EPA’s Refrigerant Delisting Final Rule
In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final rule on refrigerant delisting, which put to rest much speculation about just how far-reaching the impacts would be to the commercial refrigeration industry. Here are some of the end uses impacted by that ruling.
• Retail food refrigeration, including:
– Stand-alone units
– Remote condensing unit
– Supermarket systems
• Stand-alone units, including:
– Refrigerators, freezers, and reach-in coolers, open or with a door
– Units fully charged with refrigerant at the factory, and those that typically only require power for startup operations
• Remote condensing units (typically 0.3-5.7 ton), including:
– One or two compressors, one condenser, and one receiver in a single unit
– Units normally located outside the sales area
• Supermarket systems, including:
– Multiplex, centralized, direct, or indirect systems
– Distributed refrigeration systems (direct systems), and secondary loop and cascade refrigeration (indirect systems)
– Units that generally include more than two compressors per system
• Application temperature — no distinction for supermarket and remote condensing unit systems, only stand-alone, such as:
– Medium-temperature systems featuring above-32°F product temperatures
– Low-temperature systems featuring below 32° product temperatures
• Ice makers connected to a supermarket system
End Uses Not Impacted by the EPA’s Final Rule:
– Industrial process refrigeration
– Blast chillers or freezers (falls under industrial process refrigeration)
– Ice makers not connected to supermarket systems, self-contained, or connected to a dedicated condensing unit
– Low-temperature equipment operating at minus 50° or lower
– Equipment designed to make or process cold food and beverages that are dispensed via a nozzle, including ice cream machines, slushy iced beverage dispensers, and soft-drink dispensers
– Existing systems may continue to be serviced and maintained for the useful life of that equipment using the original refrigerant
The next E360 Forum is scheduled for Feb. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/EmersonE360.
Publication date: 11/23/2015