How Can the Refrigeration Industry Adapt to Reduce GHG Emissions?

photo of pressure exchanger units refrigeration industry

(Credit: Energy Recovery)

by | Apr 12, 2023

This article is included in these additional categories:

The refrigeration industry has been a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants. As these chemicals have been phased out owing to their harmful impact on the ozone layer and significant global warming potential, the industry is exploring alternative options to minimize its carbon footprint.

Carbon Dioxide Emerges as a Promising Solution

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has emerged as a promising alternative due to its low global warming potential. However, CO2 systems face efficiency challenges at high temperatures, leading to increased energy consumption and emissions.

KC Chen, VP of CO2 at Energy Recovery, has highlighted that the substitution of CO2 in industrial and commercial refrigeration has a catch. While CO2 has low global warming potential, the efficiency of legacy CO2 systems drops rapidly at high temperatures.

In a recent interview, Chen shared that this problem with leakage is particularly prevalent in the frozen food sections of large grocery stores, where the annual leakage rate is about 18%. Leading supermarkets to focus on using CO2 as a replacement. However, the efficiency of CO2 drops suddenly as temperatures reach around 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit), despite its low global warming potential. These efficiency challenges are a significant hurdle for the refrigeration industry as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint and transition to more sustainable solutions.

Energy Recovery’s Innovative Solution

Energy Recovery, a leading technology company, has developed an innovative pressure exchanger technology that can improve the efficiency of CO2 refrigeration systems by up to 30%, reducing energy consumption and emissions. This technology has already been successfully deployed in desalination and industrial wastewater operations.

The pressure exchanger works like a piston, transferring energy in a CO2 system from high pressure to low pressure without mixing the fluids on either side. This maximizes the system’s efficiency by conserving pressure energy within the system, requiring less power to run it. The technology also reduces capital costs and waste, making it an attractive solution for the refrigeration industry.

Industry Adapting to New Regulations

The global adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which mandates an 80% reduction in the use of HFCs by 2046, is driving the refrigeration industry to find alternatives. In response to changing regulations, Epta Group, a European company specializing in retail commercial refrigeration, has partnered with Energy Recovery to integrate the pressure exchanger technology into their latest refrigeration system.

With innovative technology, the industry can make significant progress toward reducing GHG emissions while improving efficiency and reducing waste.

Additional articles you will be interested in.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Share This