Refrigerant Leak Tracking Saves Verisae Customers $15.5M a Year

by | Mar 2, 2010

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refrigerantWith systems in place to track leaks at 500,000 refrigerant containment systems across the U.S., Verisae said it commands about 25 percent of the market.

Companies are tracking refrigerant and ammonia containing systems for coolers, refrigeration units and chillers across their facilities for two primary reasons — to avoid EPA fines of $37,500 per system per day and to reduce leaks & vented refrigerants to save money, said Dan Stouffer, a spokesman for Verisae.

“Some clients are beginning to see the value of refrigerants not only from their own cost reductions but also from a carbon emissions perspective,” Stouffer said. “If they can reduce their leak rates by multiple percentages on a system by system or across all systems, this results in massive amounts of emission reductions.”

Verisae estimates that by reducing leaks by 5 percent on average, its clients save a cumulative $15.5 million in refrigerant per year.

Additionally, some companies are just starting to realize the high value refrigerants have for their organizations, he said, because ozone depleting substances (ODS) such as refrigerants are now eligible for credit creation when destroyed.

In particular, there is great market growth in California, which has a refrigerant management program using the concept of simplified mass balance calculations, which is a method of tracking and calculating total carbon emissions from not only refrigerant in systems but also from all refrigerant stockpiled or owned by an organization.

“This really exposes to an organization the carbon risk they have as it relates to refrigerants,” Stouffer said.

The Cost of Keeping Cool

Refrigerants are getting more and more expensive as they are phased out, Stouffer said.

R-22, the most common of refrigerants, is no longer being manufactured as it is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

“If you take the blended national rate for refrigerants to be $8 per pound, one can begin to see how a reduction of a few percentages in the total volume of refrigerants leaked can add up,” Stouffer said.

Cost Benefit Analysis for Refrigerant Management

Refrigerant leaks are one the highest maintenance expenses for organizations using or maintaining gas, Stouffer said.

A typical 100-store supermarket chain uses about 400,000 lbs. of refrigerant within its refrigeration and air conditioning systems, which, assuming an average cost of $6 per pound, equates to a $2.4 million asset, according to Verisae.

If a supermarket has an average annual leak rate of 25 percent, that means $600,000 in lost refrigerant must be replaced each year.

“Reducing the leak rate by only 5 percent saves $120,000 per year,” Stouffer said.

Verisae charges clients $35-50 per site or tracking device per month, and a little more when the location has Fugitive & Carbon Emissions modules in place to provide for a more complete carbon emissions report.

“Most of the complexity comes on the customer’s side as they try to identify & tag all of the refrigerant containing systems across their organization,” Stouffer said. “Once the data is collected, we can implement really quickly. We were able to get all of Wal-Mart up and running in 6 weeks when they purchased our refrigerant management solution a few years ago.”

Companies that exceed a 37.5 percent leak rate are subject to the $37,500 daily fine from the EPA.

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