The Refrigerant World Heats Up

by | Feb 9, 2017

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refrigerationThe world of refrigerants is changing in ways that will impact energy managers and the jobs that they do.

The most immediate change is a Department of Energy (DoE) requirement that energy consumption on new stand-alone commercial refrigeration equipment must be reduced by 30 percent to 50 percent on units sold on March 27 and later.

Writing at Contracting Business, Emerson Foodservice Marketing Manager Ani Jayanth indicated that the rules mandate measurement in kWh per day and are all inclusive, covering “doors, lighting, insulation, controls, fans and the condensing unit.”

Among other manufacturers, Emerson, Honeywell and Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group – which brands under the Master-Bilt Products and Nor-Lake labels – are getting ready for the March 27 deadline.

That’s not the only change, according to Jayanth: There are new DoE mandates for Jan. 1, 2018 (commercial ice makers and the delisting of R-404A refrigerant), Jan. 1, 2019 (phase out begins for five refrigerants for standalone units) and Jan. 1, 2020 (efficiency targets for walk-in coolers and freezers). These changes are being made under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. More information is available at Hydrocarbons 21.

It is possible, of course, that the rules are modified or scraped by the Trump Administration. An assumption that this will happen shouldn’t be made, however.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) may be an important alternative refrigerant as requirements become more stringent. Danfoss conducted a survey to gauge the views of industry insiders. The results suggest the substance has potential:

According to the survey, the commercial refrigeration industry continues to see CO2 as a viable mainstream technology for refrigeration (82 percent of OEMs; 91 percent of consultants and end users), and about half of OEMs responding see CO2 refrigeration as being at least 16 percent of their business within the next five years. In a similar study conducted in 2012, less than 20 percent of OEMs saw CO2 comprising at least 16 percent of their business.

Respondents say that the drivers of the use of CO2 include energy efficiency/demand response capabilities, corporate sustainability, safety and pending legislation and regulation. The obstacles are high initial costs, high system pressure requirements, unfamiliarity of contractors, lack of knowledge of end user decision makers and the need for training.

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