Commercial Refrigeration Going “Green” – R744 & Retrofit Viable Options Over R22

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Refrigeration Goes Green

Even in the recesses of your local grocery store or corner pub, the initiative to provide cleaner air and a more stable environment is alive and well. We don’t often think about grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and other businesses as being Green, but in reality these types of businesses are being charged by The Montreal Protocol to clean up their act completely by 2030. Commercial refrigeration currently relies heavily on R22 as a refrigerant; however, this kind of refrigerant is known to deplete the ozone layer.

With the worldwide phase-out of ozone depleting HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) including R-22, we need to start thinking of other alternatives, especially Green alternatives.

Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. agreed to meet certain obligations by specific dates:

  • January 1, 2004: U.S. is required to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 35% below U.S. baseline cap.
  • January 1, 2010: U.S. is required to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 75% below U.S. baseline cap.
  • January 1, 2015: U.S. is required to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 90% below U.S. baseline cap.
  • January 1, 2020: U.S. is required to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 99.5% below U.S. baseline cap.
  • January 1, 2030 U.S. is required to reduce its consumption by 100% below U.S. baseline cap.

What this means is that within the next four years the U.S. needs to be 90% below its previously allowed usage cap of R22. R22 has been the most commonly used refrigerant for decades. Both commercial and residential consumers need to find alternatives to R22 for their cooling needs.

R744: A Natural Alternative

One such option is provided by Linde, a leading supplier of refrigerants for over 40 years. Linde has operations in 40 countries on five continents. They are currently offering a more eco-friendly option to R22. A carbon dioxide called R744 is a refrigerant grade CO2. R744 can be used for a variety of refrigeration needs, such as, air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, process chilling, or heat extraction. Linde believes R722 will help meet the world-wide environmental regulations.

Carbon dioxide has been used as a refrigerant since the 19th century. When fluorocarbons were introduced the 1930s, CO2 fell out of favor, and was all but cast aside by the 1950s. Today, with its low environmental impact, CO2 is now seeing a resurgence in popularity from refrigeration system designers and users.

Advantages of R744

According to Linde, R744 is now regaining popularity due to a number of advantages:

  • Low toxicity
  • Non-flammability
  • Zero ozone depletion potential
  • Very low global warming potential (GWP=1)
  • Excellent thermodynamic properties and low energy requirement

RETROFIT: Another Option

Another option is to start thinking retrofit. There are numerous commercial refrigeration systems that still use R22 gas. Although it is currently still possible to use R22, because it is being phased out, the cost is going up drastically. We recommend replacing the compressor unit and TXV expansion valve on coolers or freezers and then retrofitting to a new style of gas. This is especially valuable when an old R22 system compressor fails. The failure of the system becomes an opportunity to retrofit it to run on a gas that produces less ozone depletion during the repair process.

Honeywell Has a Retrofit Option for Current R22 Users

“Supermarket customers are looking for an R-22 replacement that can work in both retrofits and new equipment installations,” said Paul Sanders, Commercial Director for Honeywell Fluorine Products in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. Genetron Performax LT offers a significant reduction in total greenhouse gas emission with the added benefit of lower operating costs.” Genetron Performax LT is an A1- rated refrigerant, indicating it has low toxicity and is non flammable. Honeywell advises against retrofitting too soon. The company suggests considering all aspects including the energy consumption of the refrigeration equipment throughout its remaining life. Retrofitting could prove to be more harmful to the environment when you add global warming potential into the equation. Sound service and maintenance schedules are vital to keeping any cooling system healthy and environmentally sound.

Whichever option you choose to use should be a carefully considered decision.  Give us a call at Northeast Cooling to discuss what refrigeration option is best for you and your business. We strive to meet your needs in the Greenest way possible.