Accelerate Corporate captures the
efforts of market leaders in advancing
the use of natural refrigerants
across different applications,
industry sectors and continents.
Each issue of the magazine is prepared in
partnership with an influential corporation,
organisation or group of entities striving to
accelerate the uptake of climate-friendly,
natural refrigerant-based technologies.
Accelerate Corporate seeks to showcase
end users’ experiences working with
natural refrigerants and to highlight
the underlying market, policy and
technology trends driving their uptake.
This issue of Accelerate Corporate was
made possible by the support of:
Editor’s Note 3
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
The Age of
– Editor’s note by Andrew Williams
As technology develops and the
global HFC phase-down picks
up pace, natural refrigerants
are cementing their place not
just as market-ready alternatives
today but also as the future-proof
HVAC&R solutions of tomorrow.
This special edition of Accelerate looks
at how hydrocarbons, in particular,
are expanding into a wider range of
business sectors and applications.
Thanks to their impressive efficiency
performance – particularly in warmer
climates – they are fast becoming the
natural refrigerant solution of choice
in small-scale applications such as
bottle coolers and vending machines.
Hydrocarbons – already dominant in
the domestic refrigeration market in
many parts of the world – are solidifying
their place in the commercial and
light commercial sectors. Globally,
they are making their presence felt.
The only household refrigeration
markets that remain largely untouched
by hydrocarbons, for example, are
North America and Africa. We take an
in-depth look at these and other market
trends in our special feature (p. 26).
For hydrocarbons to make inroads into
new areas of application, however,
charge limits will need to be revised.
This year, standards bodies in the United
States and worldwide will consider
increasing these limits amid mounting
pressure from industry (p. 30).
Embraco, a multinational company
focused on refrigeration solutions, is
banking on disruptive technologies to
stay ahead of the pack. We sat down
with CEO Luis Felipe Dau to find out
how the company sees the position of
hydrocarbons in the global HVAC&R
market unfolding in the future (p. 8).
Our series of case studies from around
the world provides a snapshot of how
innovative solutions are helping end
users in different sectors of the economy
to make the switch to hydrocarbons.
From professional kitchens to medical
laboratories, a growing number
of markets are taking advantage
of the efficiency and versatility of
hydrocarbons. In domestic and
light commercial refrigeration in
particular, their use is projected to grow
significantly. Criotec and Thermo Fisher
Scientific are among the companies
banking on hydrocarbons to improve
cooling system performance (p. 16).
In Brazil, two innovative companies
with close ties to that country –
Embraco and Eletrofrio – are helping
Mig supermarkets to adopt propanebased
plug ‘n’ play cabinets (p. 12).
In Europe, natural refrigerants are
helping the Colruyt Group to save
money and deliver on environmental
targets. The Belgian retailer is
moving to hydrocarbons for 100% of
its in-store cooling needs (p. 20).
Brewing giant Heineken also recognises
the business case for natural
refrigerants. CEO Jean-François Van
Boxmeer argues that sustainable
refrigeration is one of the best
investments that companies can make
to secure our planet’s future (p. 23).
All the end users featured in this issue
recognise the role that hydrocarbons
can play in putting the world on a
more sustainable footing for future
generations. I would like to take
this opportunity to thank Embraco,
whose support made this special
edition of Accelerate possible.
With a clear global HFC phase-down
pathway now in place and innovative
companies working together to develop
market-ready replacement technologies,
the world stands on the cusp of a
new Age of Hydrocarbons. AW
4 Table of Contents
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
by Dr. Daniel Colbourne
Hydrocarbon standards revision
by Andrew Williams
Table of Contents
Table of Contents 5
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
6 Guest Column
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Let’s reform the obstructive
AC&R safety standards
ebbs and flows of national, regional and
international legislation relating to ozone
and climate issues. HCs – along with other
natural refrigerants – potentially offer a
panacea for climate-damaging refrigerants,
but only if the industry safety standards are
remedied to overcome the frustrating and
often nonsensical restrictions buried within.
With the introduction of the new EU F-Gas
Regulation in 2014, the onerous phase-down
schedule has created a significant shift in the
way decision-makers in Europe approach this
trade-off between environment and efficiency
versus the headache of handling flammability.
Coupled with the advent of the new Kigali
Amendment, again there seems to be a
re-energised surge of enthusiasm in HCs for
certain applications. This is perhaps reflected
by the number of articles on HCs published
in scientific journals and conferences, the
rate of which is about double that of five
years ago (compared to an increase of about
1.25 times for scientific articles in general).
Along with other natural refrigerants such
as R717 and R744, HCs are largely seen as
‘the end game’ by many stakeholders (within
the context of available technologies).
Currently there are a limited number of
manufacturers producing systems with HCs:
a fair number for commercial refrigeration
products, some making chillers and heat
pumps, yet very few indeed involved with
stationary air-conditioning units – and
none whatsoever when it comes to mobile/
car air conditioning (MAC). Indeed, this
is particularly disappointing from an
environmental perspective, since small air
conditioning (single splits and MACs) is
responsible for more than half of the global
refrigerant-related global warming impact,
despite posing the lowest flammability
risk amongst all these sub-sectors.
Apart from historical and industrial use,
the possibility to use hydrocarbons
(HCs) as alternative refrigerants to
ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) began
to gain momentum about 25 years ago.
Following the success of the Greenpeace
‘Greenfreeze’ revolution, stakeholders began
to consider the viability of HCs in applications
beyond domestic refrigeration, such as
room air conditioners, chillers, vehicle air
conditioning and commercial refrigeration.
Interest and enthusiasm in HCs was generated
from various directions. From the early 1990s
HC refrigerant producers such as Calor
Gas, Ecozone, Esanty (now HyChill) and OZ
Technology promoted the technology. Under
the Montreal Protocol it was implemented by
national agencies – particularly GTZ (now
GIZ) and INFRAS – leading to an uptake in
both Article 5 and non-Article 5 countries
almost in tandem (at least for domestic
refrigeration). Progress was eventually
facilitated in the mid-1990s by the advent of
safety standards covering HC refrigerants,
such as EN 60335-2-24, and British and
German safety standards – BS 4434 and
DIN 7003 respectively – for non-domestic
applications. Similarly, deeper technological
insight was accelerated by international
events such as the International Institute
of Refrigeration’s (IIR) ‘New Applications
for Natural Working Fluids’ conference;
initially at Hannover in 1994, now the biennial
Gustav Lorentzen (GL) conference.
Over the past 20 years, that interest and
enthusiasm has fluctuated widely, with periods
when numerous manufacturers and end
users of heat pumps or air conditioners or
chillers or refrigerated display cabinets would
adopt the technology, followed by episodes
where there has been a lull in tangible
fervour. This of course broadly follows the
— By Dr. Daniel Colbourne
Guest Column 7
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
To some extent, this lacklustre situation
is broadly affected by stakeholders’
anxieties over flammability safety
issues: “it just doesn’t feel safe”, “more
than 150g cannot be safe”, “yes, an
ideal refrigerant, but…” – emanating
not only from non-specialists but
even from engineers and scientists
in the field. Arguably, this typifies
the disappointingly trivial number of
research articles published on HC safety
compared to those, for example, on
thermal engineering of HC systems; it
is all very nice presenting a study on
how efficient R290 is in this compressor
or that system, but if this fundamental
barrier is not comprehensively
addressed, the far-reaching substitution
of HFCs with naturals will remain
unreachable. Despite this, the landscape
is beginning to look greener, with a
three-fold increase, for instance, in
the number of articles addressing this
topic at the last IIR GL conference.
The reason for this is the (im)balance
between the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ of key
stakeholders. With commercial
refrigeration, a small number of major
end users provide enough ‘pull’ to
encourage manufacturers to commit
to environmentally-friendly technology.
Conversely, for split ACs and MAC, the
choice of technology is dictated by
system manufacturers, since no single
group of end users (predominantly,
individual members of the public)
has the critical mass to impose that
demand upon the manufacturers.
These two issues are manifest in
the gloomy state of the currently
obstructive AC&R safety standards.
Whilst the new EN 378: 2016 contains
some welcome improvements for HCs,
many unhelpful and irrational rules,
limits and omissions remain. Recently
convened working groups for EN 378 and
the product standards for commercial
refrigeration (IEC 60335-2-89) and
air conditioners (IEC 60335-2-40)
are in progress to (in part) deal with
overcoming these issues. Despite
substantial and novel research on HC
safety and improved safety measures,
there remains resistance exerted by
established stakeholders forcefully
dominating the process and persistently
opposing improved rules for HCs.
In absence of any new ‘miracle’
technology, there is a broad consensus
within the industry that HCs – along
with R744 and R717 – should become
the technology of choice. But with
the current rate of uptake seemingly
dependent upon the environmentally
driven demands of disparate end
users, it will be necessary for
industry stakeholders to put aside
their emotional prejudices, and the
enthusiasm of engineers to go beyond
their comfort zone, to address ways and
means of applying HCs to adequately
minimise risk of flammability.
Dr. Daniel Colbourne
is a member of various
European, IEC and
ISO safety standard
working groups and
Technical Options
Committee under the
Montreal Protocol.
8 Interview
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Constructive disruption
Embraco, a multinational focused on refrigeration solutions, is banking on
disruptive technologies to stay ahead of the pack. Accelerate sat down with
CEO Luis Felipe Dau to find out more.
– By Andrew Williams
Embraco CEO Luis Filipe Dau
Interview 9
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Accelerate: How would you currently characterise
the global HVAC&R market? What do you
see as the top drivers of change?
Dau: The refrigeration value chain must continue to
reinvent itself and innovate much more. Whoever does
this best and as a first mover will bear significant
value creation in our industry. There are several
opportunities to be explored.
The market – particularly manufacturers – is
passing through a moment that is challenging yet
full of opportunities. The biggest challenge I see
in the industry is differentiation in the eyes of end
users. Researching in detail consumer behaviours
and translating them into a few attributes that
consumers truly value, segment-by-segment,
country-by-country, is one key factor for success.
Increasing consciousness of environmental
sustainability has driven more energy-efficient
systems and regulations. Additionally, an
increasing appeal for health, translated into
food preservation and consumer choices for a
healthier lifestyle, is also emerging strongly.
Variable speed compressors are a current reality
that will accelerate in the near future. We already
see movement in the Latin American, Asian and
European markets, with single speed compressors
converting to Fullmotion, Embraco’s variable speed
technology. The motivation brought by growing
demand for refrigeration systems with higher
energy efficiency, lower noise and longer food
preservation is an opportunity to differentiate by
matching system and compressor in a unique way.
Connectivity is another relevant trend, closely related
to the Internet of Things. In the case of refrigerators,
new features will be developed to increasingly connect
the user to equipment, bringing advantages in food
preservation and equipment maintenance.
Accelerate: Does Embraco see an opportunity in
the HFC phase-down plans being put in place
locally and globally? Does this sustainability
drive pose challenges for your business too?
Dau: For more than 20 years, Embraco has used
natural refrigerants in its compressor portfolio for
commercial and household use to reduce the negative
effects on the ozone layer, greenhouse effects and
to improve the equipment’s energy efficiency.
We believe that using natural refrigerants –
especially hydrocarbons – is the ideal solution
for the future of refrigeration by sustainably
aligning economic and environmental needs.
The use of natural refrigerants with low GWP is on
the agenda worldwide, both for use in household
refrigeration as well as for commercial. The United
States and many other countries are making
strides in the refrigeration industry, specifically in
commercial food service and retail, to limit energy
consumption and harmful environmental impacts.
We believe that HFCs will become unfeasible for
large-scale production in the medium term.
Regardless of the current legislation in the various
countries where Embraco operates and the
imminent ban on the use of HFCs, the company
is prepared to meet future legislation and best
practices demanded by the global market.
We believe that using natural refrigerants
– especially hydrocarbons –
is the ideal solution for the future of
refrigeration by sustainably aligning
economic and environmental needs.
– Luis Felipe Dau
10 Interview
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Sustainability drives our company strategy. We have
the constant challenge of being at the forefront
of developing new technologies and solutions
that meet customer demand, promoting energy
efficiency, reducing consumption of natural resources
and lessening impact on the environment.
Accelerate: How would you currently describe the
commercial refrigeration market in particular,
in terms of opportunities and challenges?
Dau: This market is changing faster than ever,
due to several regulations all over the world,
driving increased efficiency as well as GWP
reduction. Production, products and systems
using fewer materials are also increasingly
driving segments of the refrigeration industry.
Our main driver is to keep developing solutions
to support our customers in the short term
and researching others for the long term. The
main challenges are related to the next wave
of regulations, which will push our customers
to increase energy efficiency even more.
A combination of drivers – sustainability,
health and connectivity – has brought
new opportunities to innovate.
Accelerate: Do you think Embraco is well placed to
take advantage of the shift towards hydrocarbons
in household and commercial refrigeration?
Dau: Our global team is highly experienced
in natural refrigerants. We can tailor our
portfolio to our customers’ specific needs.
We are pioneers in using natural refrigerants
that, compared to other fluids, make a negligible
contribution to global warming and are harmless
to the ozone layer. Natural refrigerants also
contribute significantly to reducing energy
consumption. By adopting propane (R290), in
addition to the environmental benefits, we helped
our customers manage future regulatory risk.
Accelerate: How do you see the market developing
in the next 10 years? Are we looking at a post-HFC
world in the realm of commercial refrigeration?
Dau: Rules and regulations will continue to evolve,
which is why we place a great deal of focus on our
research and development to ensure that we develop
the most energy efficient, dependable and innovative
compressors and cooling solutions. We believe that
natural refrigerants will be the reality after HFCs.
Accelerate: Do you expect uptake of
hydrocarbon solutions to proceed more
quickly in certain regions than others?
Dau: Yes. All countries have to act, in view of the Kigali
Amendment to phase down high-GWP refrigerants.
Some regions with more evolved regulations about
refrigerants and energy savings, such as Europe
and the USA, tend to migrate more quickly to
hydrocarbons. Other regions where similar regulations
are not yet in place will move more slowly, but because
hydrocarbons are more efficient refrigerants, we
believe they will also migrate in that direction.
Accelerate: How important is R&D to your strategy?
Dau: We invest annually 3% to 4% of net revenue
in R&D. About 600 professionals are dedicated
exclusively to this department – with approximately
120 university partners. Additionally, Embraco has
47 research laboratories on four continents.
The world is changing fast. The refrigeration
market has quickly evolved. Innovation is part
of our company’s DNA and, more than just
keeping up with this evolution with agility, we
seek to be true protagonists of what’s to come.
We invest annually in our technology DNA to
keep our position as a technology leader.
Accelerate: What is the top compressor
trend in commercial refrigeration?
Dau: Through anticipating trends, Embraco has
been able to develop energy-saving products that
reduce the total cost of ownership in the value chain
of the light commercial refrigeration segment.
Embraco’s pioneering research has led to the
development of new technologies and solutions,
such as variable speed solutions and products
that use natural refrigerants. I would like to
highlight Fullmotion, the EMC Compressor,
Plug N’ Cool and Condensing Units.
The market, especially the end user, is each time
more demanding, so we see as trends for commercial
solutions all the features of Fullmotion (variable
speed) technology, such as food preservation,
Interview 11
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
energy efficiency and lower noise. We’re also betting
on compressors with R290, due to the trends on
energy efficiency and new refrigerant regulations.
Accelerate: Do you think sustainable refrigeration
is an opportunity or challenge for your company?
Dau: It’s an opportunity certainly. Our focus on
transforming technology into innovation challenges
us to go further and keeps us as a global benchmark
in the refrigeration market. In 2015 we began a
scientific study to help us identify critical points
to further reduce our ecological footprint.
Looking at global challenges such as climate change,
waste generation and natural resource exhaustion, we
took inspiration from nature to create Nat.Genius, a
business unit that uses decades of reverse logistics
expertise of our compressors. With this operation,
we recycle several discarded electro-electronic
products at the end of their useful life and we make
sure that no refrigerant leaks into the atmosphere.
Accelerate: Do you see compressors using
HFO blends as representing a serious
alternative to hydrocarbon compressors?
Dau: We consider HFO blends to have intrinsically
lower efficiency, and to be less competitive
and less sustainable than hydrocarbons.
Accelerate: How would you currently describe
the natural refrigerants market in Embraco’s
native Brazil, and how to you see it developing
in future? What about the natural refrigerants
market in Latin America more generally?
Dau: In Brazil, there is no regulation that prohibits
the use of HFCs or even legislation for minimum
energy efficiency in the commercial segment. In
Latin America, few countries have a direction on
that, but the cost of electricity is high, so the market
is already looking for more efficient options, such
as R290 or Fullmotion inverter compressors.
Accelerate: What’s next for Embraco more generally?
Dau: Our Vision ‘To be leader everywhere by 2020
and recognised by customers as the preferred
partner’ is what drives our way of doing business.
In the last two years, we’ve intensified the cultural
transformation within the company aiming
to become even simpler, more innovative and
customer-centric. The challenge of doing things
differently has brought new opportunities in all
our units, whether in revenue generation, cost
optimisation or working capital improvements.
Focusing on disruptive technology projects,
Embraco seeks opportunities aimed at expanding
the portfolio. New initiatives are part of the
company’s strategies and this is why the company
partners with institutions and start-ups.
Accelerate: What can you tell us about your biography?
Dau: I graduated as a B.S. in Electronic Engineering
from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ –
Brazil) and pursued an MBA in General Management
at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
After working as an industrial engineer for a
Brazilian branch of AB-InBev and as a consultant for
McKinsey & Company, I joined Embraco in 2006.
My biggest motivation to join the industry was
its challenges, the opportunity of continuous
learning in a global scenario, and to match
technology to improve people’s lives.
I have worked as director for our Program
Management Office (PMO), as the director of
Embraco’s Brazil Plant, general manager for our
Embraco SnowFlake JV in China, Vice-President
for Asia and Global Vice-President for Business
& Marketing. In March 2016, I was fortunate
enough to be appointed as Embraco CEO.
Accelerate: Do you consider sustainability and
environmental issues to play an important role in your
personal life too? Do you do anything in particular
to reduce your environmental footprint at home?
Dau: Being an outdoor-sport enthusiast, a
father of three kids and wishing for a better
world for them (and my future grandkids) made
me reflect a lot and adapt several of our habits
at home over the years. Little things make a
big difference not only for a more sustainable
world but also for educating the kids. AW
12 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Case Study 13
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
riding the
propane wave
Two innovative companies with close
ties to Brazil – Embraco and Eletrofrio
– helped Mig Supermarkets go towards
R290 plug ‘n’ play cabinets.
— By Charlotte McLaughlin
14 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Brazil’s average annual temperatures of
22-26°C (72- 79°F) in the Amazon region
and 38°C (100°F) in the northeast can
pose a challenge to potential users of natural
refrigerant-based HVAC&R equipment.
Mig Supermarkets, a Brazilian company
founded in 1976 by Arlindo Miguel in the
city of Mafra in the southern state of Santa
Catarina, accepted the challenge.
In a long-standing store in Mafra, the retailer
decided to retrofit its old refrigerated cabinets
with environmentally friendly technology.
“When you install a green solution, it is less
impactful on the environment,” Josué Cesar
Miguel, co-owner of the Mig group, told Accelerate.
“When a company has this consciousness,
it reflects on to their direct customers, and
as a B2C business, it impacts on consumer
perception, which impacts on business.”
A “respect for people” drives all Mig’s activities,
Miguel says. “This means respect for customers,
employees, suppliers and competitors. It also
means respecting the environment around these
people. When you respect people, you make
sustainable choices – and adopt green solutions.”
In the Mafra store, Embraco and Eletrofrio
were only too happy to lend a helping hand
to retrofit the previous R22-based system
– centred on a remote rack system – with
freestanding hydrocarbon-based cabinets.
The new cabinets use Embraco’s self-contained
R290 Plug n’ Cool solution. The complete cooling
system targets reach-in cabinets for supermarkets,
convenience stores and professional kitchens.
Eletrofrio started using the Plug n’ Cool
solution in its ‘Green Line’ brand of cabinets
and this year it installed the system in the
Mafra store during the same period.
The work involved changing the cabinets to
Eletrofrio’s Green Line. Miguel says the advantages
of the system were evident immediately.
“Since we changed some other things on the
store, it’s hard to measure exactly how much
the cabinets impacted on the electricity bill,
but the expectation is that the ratio of energy
consumption per exhibition area inside the
store will significantly decrease,” he says.
Embraco’s Plug n’ Cool unit
Case Study 15
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Embraco’s Plug n’ Cool solution on top of Eletrofrio cabinets, Mig supermarket, Mafra, Brazil
Summer is coming
Mig had feared that self-contained refrigeration solutions
would be hot and noisy. “We feared that migrating to a
self-contained refrigeration solution would increase the
heat inside the store and increase the noise as well,”
Miguel says. He needn’t have worried. Thanks to the air
flow and the position of the Plug n’ Cool system on top
of the equipment, this didn’t happen, Miguel explains.
The system, installed in the Brazilian winter, has been
able to cope with Brazil’s high ambient temperatures
so far. “This year our winter has been crazy. There were
some really hot days. So, the expectation is that there
will be no problem in summer either,” he argues.
He is also impressed with the improved cooling quality
compared to the previous remote [HCFC-based]
system that was installed in the store. “We are now
using this self-contained refrigeration system, and
also doors. So, we perceived a significant increase
in the ‘quality of the cold’ inside the cabinet.”
More stable temperatures inside the cabinets result in lower
average temperatures, because there is less fluctuation.
This helps to maintain the meat at the highest quality
until the customer is ready to consume it. “It’s about
food security and respect for people,” Miguel says.
Another knock-on effect of using a remote refrigeration
system is the space it saves in the supermarket,
freeing up space for other products because the store
does not need to house a refrigeration rack.
Above all, Miguel cites the «maintenance and peace»
of the Plug n’ Cool as the most impressive benefits.
“When the store had the machine room, me and
the store managers had to be always alert because
something could happen to the refrigeration system
at any time – and so we had the risk of losing all the
food we had on the supermarket floor,” he explains.
Three employees were dedicated to the maintenance of
the rack. “Now with the Plug n’ Cool solution applied in
Eletrofrio’s Green Line cabinets, if one of the refrigeration
systems fails, there will be no damage to the products
inside the cabinet, since the other Plug n’ Cool units
can keep the inside temperature cold enough for a
long time even with a broken unit,” Miguel argues.
The three employees now can dedicate their
time to other supermarket activities.
The success of this project has now convinced
Miguel to use this green technology. “We are
very proud to be ‘greener’,” he says.
Mig will be rolling out the new solution in other
stores. «We plan to change the cabinets of old
stores to this solution too,” Miguel says. CM
16 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
bridging the gap
From professional kitchens in Europe to medical
laboratories in the United States and Brazil, a
growing number of markets are taking advantage
of the efficiency and versatility of hydrocarbons.
– By Devin Yoshimoto & Andrew Williams
As an alternative to HFCs, hydrocarbons are
considered to be one of the most efficient
options in terms of energy consumption.
Their impressive thermodynamic properties lend
themselves especially well to applications in the
domestic and light commercial refrigeration markets.
In fact, hydrocarbons are already being used
extensively in domestic refrigeration. To date, an
estimated 1.5 billion domestic refrigerators worldwide
use hydrocarbons. By 2020, 75% of all new domestic
refrigerators are expected to use R600a or R290.
In light commercial refrigeration, hydrocarbon use is also
projected to grow significantly over the next few years.
With respect to larger plug-in units used in supermarkets,
Austria-based manufacturer AHT Cooling Systems
GmbH estimates that over 1.5 million of its own such
units are currently in operation worldwide.
The adoption of hydrocarbons is expected to accelerate
even more quickly as governments around the world impose
stricter energy-efficiency standards on manufacturers.
Many manufacturers have responded by doubling down
on their investments in hydrocarbon-based systems.
On 27 March 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy began
enforcing new energy-efficiency standards for commercial
refrigeration equipment, and manufacturers are turning
to hydrocarbons to meet these new standards.
Earlier this year, U.S.-based commercial refrigeration supplier
True Manufacturing announced a commitment to moving its
entire production portfolio to 100% hydrocarbons by 2019.
“At the moment we are two-thirds through the transition
from R134a and R404A to R290,” said Kurt Bahnmaier,
European marketing coordinator for True Manufacturing,
at the EuroShop 2017 tradeshow in Düsseldorf in March.
Multinationals moving the market
Global beverage giant the Coca-Cola Company is aiming
to be 100% HFC-free for all new cold drinks equipment by
the end of 2020. It plans to achieve this target by primarily
adopting natural refrigerants CO2 and hydrocarbons
– with its Japanese branch leading by example.
Globally the Coca-Cola Company is already adopting natural
refrigerants propane and CO2 on a grand scale. By the end
of 2015, the Coca-Cola Company had deployed more than
1.8 million HFC-free units worldwide. By HFC-free, the
Coca-Cola Company means 100% natural refrigerants.
Case Study 17
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Research by shecco, publisher of Accelerate, reveals
that there are now 1.35 million beverage vending
machines in Japan that use either hydrocarbons
or CO2. This includes more than 550,000 R600a
vending machines currently in the market.
In Japan, Coca-Cola’s objective is slightly different:
the beverage giant has adopted an official
target of moving to 100% natural refrigerants –
meaning hydrocarbons or CO2 – in all vending
equipment on the Japanese market by 2020.
Also in Japan, in February 2015, convenience
store chain Save On became the first company
to open a store equipped with exclusively
R290 plug-in refrigeration showcases.
Hydrocarbons, then, are already being put to use in
a wide range of economic sectors on a global scale.
The next two pages of case studies take a closer
look at how these efficiency improvements are
continuing to drive adoption of hydrocarbons
in a variety of markets – and indeed increasing
their competitiveness vis-à-vis CO2 and other
refrigerants – in a wide range of applications.
Thermo Fisher Scientific manufactures hydrocarbonbased
medical and laboratory equipment
18 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Brazilian, U.S. medical lab
equipment makers banking
on hydrocarbons
For manufacturers in the medical
and laboratory equipment field,
hydrocarbons are proving to be
efficient refrigerants that give their
products a competitive advantage.
Thermo Fisher Scientific, a U.S.
manufacturer specialising in
the development of ultra lowtemperature
refrigeration systems,
was looking for ways to improve
the efficiency of its products.
The challenge, however, was how
to improve the energy efficiency of
the systems without compromising
on their performance.
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s line of
TSX ultra-low temperature cascade
refrigeration systems typically operate
from -90°C to -70°C (-130°F to -94°F).
Because these products are used
mainly in the chemical and medical
industry, performance and reliability is
an extremely important consideration.
When Thermo Fisher Scientific decided
to go with the use of hydrocarbon
compressors – R290 and R170 –
initial tests found that due to the
switch to natural refrigerants alone,
its line of TSX ultra-low temperature
systems gained 17% efficiency.
The power used in the cascade
system’s first and second stage
compressors was reduced and the entire
system’s coefficient of performance
increased from 2.39 to 2.80.
Compared to their old single speed
systems which ran on HFCs R404A and
R508B, the TSX systems now deliver
up to 50% energy savings, especially
with the use of Embraco’s Fullmotion
Inverter technology, which helps
increase efficiency even further.
The use of R290 is also helping
a Brazil-based medical and laboratory
equipment manufacturer reach
its energy efficiency goals.
Fanem, a Brazilian manufacturer
of haemato-immuno conservation
chambers used to preserve and
store blood and vaccines, requires
its cooling systems to be reliable
and energy efficient, and variable
at low temperatures. They must
also have the capacity to deal
with voltage fluctuations.
When Fanem decided to switch to using
R290, initial tests showed that the
system was also now able to achieve a
30% improvement in the ‘pull-down’ rate
– the time it takes for the product being
stored to reach the same temperature
as the interior of the chamber.
Compared to Fanem’s old prototype
HFC R134a system, which took 10
hours to cool the contents from
32°C to 4°C (90°F to 39°F), the new
system only took three hours.
Most significantly the system
was also able to achieve a 50%
reduction in energy consumption.
Hydrocarbons are proving themselves
to be extremely efficient refrigerants,
with great potential to impact the
medical laboratory equipment industry.
Fanem conservation chambers for blood and vaccines
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s TSX Series
Case Study 19
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Mexico-based Criotec slashes
freezer energy consumption
For Mexico-based commercial refrigeration
manufacturer Criotec, social responsibility tops
its list of core values as an organisation.
The company sought to improve the TEWI figures of its
refrigerators and opted for R290 as a means of doing that.
In cooperation with Embraco, a test was conducted
to see how the use of R290 would impact not
only the energy efficiency of the refrigerators
but the overall TEWI figures as well.
The company took its CTCC-25 model horizontal freezer
(internal volume 643 litres) and swapped out the R134a
compressor, replacing it with an R290-based compressor.
The compressor was the only part of the system
that changed. The results were significant: the
freezer using the R290 compressor recorded
a 24% decrease in energy consumption.
The figures showed that the R134a compressor
consumed about 3.337 kWh per day, whereas the
R290 compressor consumed 2.663 kWh per day.
The system using the R134a compressor had a measured
TEWI of 5,316, whereas the system using the R290
compressor had a TEWI of 3,951 – a 26% reduction
mainly due to R290’s low global warming potential
(GWP) value of just three (versus R134a at 1,430 GWP).
For Criotec, reducing the energy consumption of
its products while also reducing environmental
impact was a win-win, helping the company
to truly live up to its core values.
Professional kitchens meet new
EU regulations with hydrocarbons
The European Union and its member states continue
to move energy-efficiency standards forward,
putting increased pressure on manufacturers.
Since 1 July 2016, under the EU Eco-Design
Directive, all newly manufactured commercial
refrigeration equipment must meet new
minimum energy-efficiency requirements.
In addition, a new mandatory energy-labelling
scheme was created to help end users and
consumers to determine more easily the energyefficiency
ratings of different products.
A key target of the new regulation was refrigeration
equipment used in professional kitchens.
Embraco conducted energy consumption tests with
stainless steel single-door coolers (internal volume
500-700 litres) – a popular type of refrigerator in
busy kitchens and restaurants around the world.
Over a period of 24 hours, Embraco measured the energy
consumption of a refrigerator using an HFC-based
compressor and compared it with two refrigerators
using two models of its own R290-based compressors.
The results showed that, compared to the benchmark
HFC-based standard commercial refrigerator, the
first R290 refrigerator achieved an energy use
reduction of 37.3%. The second R290 refrigerator
achieved an energy use reduction of 41.12%.
The tests show that hydrocarbons are perfectly
suited to helping equipment manufacturers to meet
increasingly stringent energy-efficiency standards
and end users to save money on their energy bills.
Unilever harnessing
natural refrigerants
Dutch-British transnational
consumer goods giant Unilever is
committed to natural refrigerants.
It made the decision to adopt
hydrocarbons in 1999, after
having also considered CO2.
Berty Jakob, senior research and
development manager at Unilever,
shared the company’s experience
of using hydrocarbon refrigeration
equipment. “In the area of
refrigerants, we made a commitment
in the year 2000. And by 2014 we
already had over 12,000 hydrocarbon
cabinets in place. We were very
consistent and persistent in the
way we moved ahead,” said Jakob.
Fast forward to 2016, and Unilever
had 2.2 million hydrocarbon cabinets.
It prefers to use hydrocarbon
refrigerants R290 and R600a for
low-temperature applications.
“Regarding the implications for
servicing it is important to ensure
that service engineers are skilled
and properly trained for working
with hydrocarbons. Training of
service personnel is key. Do it
right first time and it will serve you
for years to come,” Jakob said.
Unilever found hydrocarbon cabinets
to be equally as reliable as their
HFC-based counterparts. “We have
more than 10 years’ experience
of working with hydrocarbon
cabinets, and we have never had
any safety issue,” Jakob said.
20 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Colruyt charts course for
100% hydrocarbons in stores
Natural refrigerants are helping
the Colruyt Group to save money
and deliver its environmental
targets, with the leading Belgian
retailer moving to hydrocarbons
for 100% of its in-store cooling
needs. Accelerate reports.
–By Andrew Williams
Founded in 1925, the Colruyt Group –
headquartered in the town of Halle near
Brussels – is one of Belgium’s biggest
retailers, with annual revenue of over €9.1 billion
($10.85 bn). Employing over 29,000 staff, it boasts
516 shops. Three shop formats in Belgium have
product cooling: Colruyt supermarkets (237),
OKay convenience stores (120) and Bio-Planet
(19) organic stores (autumn 2016 figures).
The Colruyt Group’s official target is to reduce
relative CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 compared
to 2008 levels. It runs its own energy company,
Eoly, to help deliver this target. Electricity from
solar panels, wind turbines and CHP (combined
Case Study 21
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
heat and power) plants powers Colruyt
Group stores and distribution centres.
With the Belgian retailer having
already switched to electricity from
100% renewable sources, refrigeration
now makes a proportionally larger
contribution to its carbon footprint.
Choosing the right refrigerant,
therefore, is crucial for meeting
its sustainability targets.
The Colruyt Group’s ultimate goal is to
become HFC-free. In 2012, it launched
a feasibility study. This led to the
adoption in December 2014 of the
official target of using 100% natural
refrigerants for all its cooling needs.
Since the end of 2016, Colruyt
is no longer building HFC-based
cooling systems in its stores.
Regulation: An ‘extra
stimulus’ for NatRefs
Natural refrigerants like CO2,
hydrocarbons and ammonia will have a
key role to play in the HFC phase-down
taking place under the EU’s F-Gas
Regulation, which since 2015 has
been reducing the total amount of
HFCs that can be sold in Europe. In
2020, a ban on using certain HFCs
in new equipment comes into effect,
accompanied by bans on servicing
and maintaining existing equipment.
“We were already adopting natural
refrigerants before the EU F-Gas
Regulation came into force. The F-Gas
Regulation was not the primary driver,
but it does give us an extra stimulus,”
Collin Bootsveld, a project engineer at
the Colruyt Group, told Accelerate.
After considering which natural
refrigerant would best match their
needs, Bootsveld and his team opted for
propane (R290) for in-store cooling. “It’s
not that we think CO2 is bad. After an
honest evaluation, we think propane is
the best solution for us,” Bootsveld says.
His team installed their first propane
system in an OKay store in Roeselare
in 2013. It took a year to secure the
necessary paperwork – even though the
14kg of propane was housed outside.
“We couldn’t go through that 40 times
a year to comply with the regulations,”
Bootsveld says.
At the system’s heart are compact
chillers containing less than 2.5kg of
propane or propene. With a refrigeration
capacity of 30-50 kW, one chiller
can cool the Group’s smaller OKay
(convenience) and Bio-Planet stores.
Colruyt supermarkets need to run
two compact chillers. An extra chiller
is always added redundantly, ready
to step in should one chiller fail.
Colruyt supermarkets also feature
special cold rooms in which
customers choose fruit, vegetables
and other products from shelves.
There are no refrigerated cabinets.
Air handling units above the cold
room remove the air inside, cool it
down with glycol, and put it back in
through perforated walls, creating a
temperature of 3-4°C (37.4-39.2°F) on
the shelves and 7°C (39.2°F) in the
room. Constantly circulating cold air
negates the heat given off by from
customers and the surrounding shop.
At the entrance of the cold room, an air
curtain stops the cold air from escaping
by blowing air at room temperature
from a vent above the cold room’s open
doorway. Rather than mixing together,
the warm and cold air roll against and
away from one another – creating an
‘air door’ that pushes the cold air back
into the cold room. This principle is used
in all new OKay and Colruyt stores.
Bootsveld’s team calculates that
this is not just cheaper but also
five times more efficient than using
display cabinets. “Cabinets lose a
lot of cold when customers open
the doors,” Bootsveld says.
Cold room in Bio-Planet, Braine l’Alleud
22 Case Study
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
Colruyt’s chest freezers have been using the
natural refrigerant R600a (isobutane) for over 10
years. They are stand-alone, giving store managers
flexibility regarding layout. Pictures on the lid
depict what’s inside, so customers do not need
to open them to discover their contents. “They
are plug ‘n’ play. If one freezer breaks down, just
swap it with another. They also use five times
less energy than display cabinets,” says Julien
Meert, a project engineer in Bootsveld’s team.
High outside ambient temperatures are of little
concern. “Propane installations can easily
handle it. Our system was designed to operate
in temperatures of up to 35°C (95°F), but we’ve
recorded 42°C (107.6°F) in Braine l’Alleud and
it’s still running fine,” Bootsveld says.
Overcoming safety concerns
Safety is often cited as an obstacle to wider use
of hydrocarbon systems. But the Colruyt Group is
working hard to overcome flammability concerns.
“Our systems are fitted with propane and propylene
detectors, and there is a fan which will extract
any flammable substances. The amount of
propane is also so low that it is very difficult for
anything bad to happen,” Bootsveld argues.
Leakages from HFC refrigerants currently
represent 12% of the Colruyt Group’s greenhouse
gas emissions in Belgium. “This 12% will be
completely eliminated by the propane cooling
project within 10 years,” Bootsveld says.
In the event of a leak, the new systems shut
themselves down automatically. Risk is kept to
minimum by limiting the number of connections.
‘No regrets’ over hydrocarbons switch
All new Colruyt Group cooling installations have
used natural refrigerants from 2017 onwards.
Currently there are around 50 new refrigeration
systems in the pipeline, a mix of new shops and
refits of existing stores. So when will the Group
achieve the target of using hydrocarbons for
100% of its in-store cooling needs? “At the current
pace we will be ready in 2027,” says Bootsveld.
The Colruyt Group has “no regrets” about the
switch to hydrocarbons. Indeed, Bootsveld
and his team are now innovating with other
natural refrigerants too. The Group’s distribution
centres, for example, are cooled with ammonia.
It opened its first ammonia plant in 1999.
In the wake of the Kigali Amendment to the
Montreal Protocol – which put in place a global
HFC phase-down trajectory – Bootsveld is
even more convinced that adopting natural
refrigerants is the right way to go. “There is
always a learning curve, and we’ve started that
curve early. We’ve moved to a new technology,
and we’ve done it in a reliable manner,” he says.
Bootsveld argues that early adoption of natural
refrigerants is already putting Colruyt at a
competitive advantage compared to retailers that
are yet to begin their transition away from HFCs.
By 2018, Colruyt hopes to be building shops without
any fossil-fuel connections at all. “In September,
our CEO decided that every time we remodel a
shop, we’ll insulate it to the same level as our
new shops. Within the next 10-12 years, all our
shops will be well insulated,” Bootsveld says.
Such insulation reduces heat demand to the
extent that the store’s heating needs can
be entirely served by waste heat from the
cooling system. “The shops will be 100%
electric. Fossil-fuel free!” Bootsveld says.
With innovations such as these, the
Belgian retailer looks well placed to meet
its sustainability targets. AW
Collin Bootsveld in Bio-Planet, Mons
Propane system in Bio-Planet, Mons
Case Study 23
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Heineken ready
to act on HFC use
Dutch brewing giant Heineken recognises the
business case for natural refrigerants. CEO Jean-
François Van Boxmeer argues that sustainable
refrigeration is one of the best investments that
companies can make in the future of the planet.
— By Charlotte McLaughlin
24 Case Study
The Heineken Group, the secondlargest
brewer in the world by
revenue, is setting ambitious
climate goals to reduce its emissions
of greenhouse gases. The global giant
is targeting 40% lower emissions from
production, 50% lower emissions from
its fridges and 20% lower emissions from
distribution in Europe and the Americas
compared to 2008 levels – all by 2020.
The company – which recorded profits
of $1.7 billion in 2014 – has already
achieved much so far. It is well on course
to meet its 2020 target of reducing
its CO2 emissions from production. In
2016, the Dutch brewer achieved a 37%
cut in emissions compared to 2008. Its
emissions are also falling in absolute
as well as relative terms. Despite
production volumes being 52% higher in
2015 than in 2008, emissions fell by 5%.
This success can partly be attributed
to its commitment to environmentally
friendly fridges. Heineken Group
CEO Jean-François Van Boxmeer
recognises hydrofluorocarbons
(HFCs) as one of the world’s fastestgrowing
climate pollutants and a major
source of greenhouse gas emissions
today. The group is seeking to cut
down on its use of HFCs by switching
to natural refrigerants instead.
“By 2020, we will have cut the CO2
emissions from our fridges in half
compared to 2010,” says Van Boxmeer.
The Belgian CEO of the Dutch
brewing giant argues that the role
of refrigerants in the fight against
climate change is often misunderstood.
HFCs are widely expected to add
up to 0.5°C (32.9°F) to the average
global temperature by the end of the
century if their use is not curbed.
As the world’s second-largest brewer
by revenue, the Heineken Group’s
action on this issue could significantly
reduce global emissions. According to
2017 figures, Heineken owns over 165
breweries in more than 70 countries. It
produces 250 international, regional,
local and specialty beers and ciders
and employs approximately 73,000
people. 21% of its CO2-equivalent
emissions come from cooling.
To reduce its own impact on the
climate, Heineken is adopting natural
refrigerants like hydrocarbons and
increasing the energy efficiency
of its HVAC&R equipment.
Van Boxmeer has been very active in
pushing members of the Consumer
Goods Forum (CGF) – which brings
together over 400 consumer goods
manufacturers seeking to pursue
more sustainable business practices
– to limit their use of HFCs as well.
“At Heineken, we try hard to make a
contribution to the essential goal of
limiting global warming by making
thoughtful choices about resource
usage,” Van Boxmeer told a CGF
summit in Berlin, Germany in June.
In October 2016, the CGF Board passed
a resolution committing its members to
deploying natural refrigerants wherever
possible, effective immediately.
Van Boxmeer recommends other
companies do the same, replacing HFCs
with hydrocarbon refrigerants to mitigate
harmful emissions and increase the
energy efficiency of cooling equipment.
In addition to installing hydrocarbonbased
technology, the beverage
giant recommends taking the
following steps to further increase
the efficiency of fridges:
Replacing standard lighting
with LED illumination;
Introducing an energy
management system, and;
Installing energy-efficient fans.
Case Study 25
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
By 2020, we will have cut the CO2
emissions from our fridges in half
compared to 2010.
– Heineken Group CEO Jean-François Van Boxmeer
Innovating at home
Heineken plans to install ‘green’ fridges, both
when replacing old fridges with new ones and
when installing a fridge in a new location. In
2014 alone, the brewer purchased 152,000
fridges, 99.8% of which had one or more of
the above ‘green’ characteristics. Two-thirds
of the fridges were compliant with all four.
To reach this point, Heineken worked with
its partners to develop the iCool fridge, an
innovative fridge that is 70% more energy efficient
than related beverage coolers from 2010.
The innovation does not stop at fridges. Heineken’s
‘David XL Green’ solution, which it proclaims
is the world’s greenest draught system, has
won sustainability awards around the world.
David XL Green was named winner in the ‘End
User of the Year – Non-Supermarket’ category
of RAC Magazine’s industry awards in 2014.
In addition to improving the overall serve quality
of Heineken beer, results show that the David
XL Green reduces energy consumption by
50% versus conventional draught systems.
Heineken believes the technology could
easily be applied to a vast number of
retail outlets across the world.
In 2014, Heineken created the SmartDispense
system for the UK market. SmartDispense
reduces the need for cellar cooling by cooling
beer as it leaves the keg, rather than cooling the
surrounding environment. It reduces a pub’s
average energy use for cooling installations by 90%.
The dispenser also saves the average pub
around 12,000 pints (6,819 litres) of water, 90
pints (51 litres) of cleaning chemicals, and
£2,300 (€2,488) of product waste every year.
The three new innovations have already helped
the company achieve energy savings of 45%
compared to 2010. “We work together with our
suppliers of fridges to foster related innovations
and drive energy reduction,” Van Boxmeer says.
Heineken is certainly putting natural refrigerants
– and cooling in general – at the heart of its
strategy for reducing its climate footprint. CM
Heineken is headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands
26 Market Trends
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
A NatRef success story
Hydrocarbons dominate
the domestic market and
are solidifying their place
in commercial and light
commercial applications.
– By Charlotte McLaughlin, Michael
Garry, Andrew Williams & Eda Isaksson
The success of hydrocarbons
in domestic refrigeration
partly boils down to an
unlikely tale of an NGO, an
old German factory and a campaigner
named Wolfgang Lohbeck.
The entry into force of the Montreal
Protocol in 1989 marked the beginning
of the end for chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) – which first created the hole
in the ozone layer – and HFCs were
looked on as the major alternatives.
Greenpeace and Wolfgang
Lohbeck – also known as Wolo –
decided to start the ‘GreenFreeze’
refrigeration project in 1992.
“[Wolo] was the right person at the right
time. The world is a better place because
of his work,” Janos Maté, a senior
consultant in Greenpeace International’s
political business unit who worked with
him on the project, told Accelerate.
Wolo met scientists in Dortmund,
Germany who showed him that
switching to hydrocarbon refrigerants
such as isobutane and propane was
a viable option for the household
sector. He found a fridge manufacturer
called DKK Scharfenstein, which was
about to go bankrupt, and convinced
it to start working on hydrocarbon
fridges. The rest is history.
Within a year, his initiative had
resulted in the highly successful
commercialisation of so-called
‘Greenfreeze’ hydrocarbon refrigeration
in Germany. The technology spread
Market Trends 27
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
rapidly. “Greenpeace now estimates that currently there are
between 900 million and one billion domestic hydrocarbon
(‘Greenfreeze’) refrigerators in the world,” Maté says.
The Replenishment Task Force of the Technology and
Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) – an advisory body to
the Montreal Protocol Parties – argues that, “by 2020 around
75% of new refrigerators will likely contain [hydrocarbon,
HC] R600a (a small proportion using HC-HFO blends), with
the remainder containing HFC134a or HFO-1234yf”.
The biggest global fridge manufacturers are European,
Chinese, Japanese and Indian. The only household
refrigeration markets that remain largely untouched
in terms of hydrocarbons are North America
and some parts of Africa, according to research
conducted by shecco, publisher of Accelerate.
In a report called ‘Bringing the U.S. Fridge Market into the
21st Century’, the Environmental Investigation Agency
(EIA) – an environmental group – pointed out that
multinational companies like AB Electrolux, Samsung
Electronics and Haier are forced by restrictive standards
to sell domestic refrigerators with R134a in the United
States, despite already successfully producing and
selling models using hydrocarbons in other markets.
Before 2011, hydrocarbons were not really allowed in
fridges in the USA. In 2011, hydrocarbons R600a and
R441A – an HC blend – were approved for use in domestic
refrigeration in the United States, when the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) listed these refrigerants as
suitable substitutes for HCFCs under the Significant
New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme. In 2015
propane was also added as a suitable alternative.
Nevertheless, faced with a charge limit of 57g for A3
(flammable) refrigerants in domestic refrigeration
(compared to 150g in Europe), manufacturers
operating in the United States have faced significant
challenges in introducing such products.
“With nearly one billion hydrocarbon fridges in the
world operating perfectly safely, why are North
American consumers denied the right to purchase
climate-friendly refrigerators?” Maté wonders.
Change is coming
There are signs that things are changing. The Underwriters
Laboratories (UL), a U.S. safety body, has adopted a new
safety standard, UL 60335-2-24, Edition 2, which will boost
the hydrocarbon charge allowed in U.S. domestic refrigerators
to 150g from 57g, the amount allowed under UL 250.
The EPA would also need to incorporate the UL
standard, if these appliances are to be sold in the
United States as an alternative to R134a models.
The current 57g charge limit for hydrocarbons “is
too small to allow cost-effective and energy-efficient
manufacturing,” Christina Starr, climate policy analyst
at the EIA, wrote on her employer’s website.
Substituting R134a with a climate-friendly refrigerant in
new fridges would avoid emissions of up to 3.7 million
metric tons of direct CO2 equivalent, according to the EIA.
United States, Europe closer
together in commercial sector
In commercial refrigeration, the move towards hydrocarbons
has been somewhat smoother. In the United States, it
has been facilitated by new Department of Energy (DOE)
efficiency standards and a more open charge limit of
150g for commercial refrigeration equipment.
The DOE standards went into effect on 27 March 2017. The
standards cover a wide array of equipment and require
the average commercial refrigeration unit to be about 30%
more efficient compared to the previous standards.
OEMs interviewed in February at the NAFEM Show in
Orlando, Florida, said switching from HFCs to hydrocarbons
– and using the compressors and other equipment that
support hydrocarbons – would provide a critical boost to
the efficiency of a commercial refrigeration system.
“Major light commercial equipment suppliers, if not all, have
developed or are developing hydrocarbon solutions for the
majority of their models,” says Antoine Azar, former global
programme director at the Coca-Cola Company and head of his
own sustainability consulting practice, Sustainable Solutions.
Indeed, in some cases, only by using hydrocarbons can
equipment meet the DOE’s demanding 2017 standards. That
was true for Guatemalan OEM Fogel, says Federico Barquero
Tefel, the company’s vice-president of commercialisation.
Fogel’s small countertop cooler was able to meet the DOE’s
2012 efficiency standard using R134a. “But if we want to
use that now, the unit would not pass [the 2017 standard],”
Tefel says. “So we went with [propane] and lowered its
energy consumption. And that’s just one example.”
A European journey
Outside the United States, OEMs have long taken
advantage of the efficiency of hydrocarbons in
refrigeration. Commercial refrigerators using
hydrocarbons have been used for more than 20 years,
with more than four million units installed today,
according to U.S.-based OEM True Manufacturing.
Many exhibitors and visitors to the world’s biggest
retail fair EuroShop – held at the Messe in Düsseldorf,
Germany from 5-9 March 2017 – commented on the
widespread use of CO2 and propane for food retail, with
many believing these natural refrigerants will become
the global ‘standard’ for commercial refrigeration.
Austrian company AHT Cooling Systems GmbH
already has over one million propane-based food and
beverage retail cabinets in operation worldwide.
“We think propane is the best solution on
the market for supermarket units,” says
Reinhold Resch, vice-president (research
and development) at the Austrian firm.
He is convinced that independent plug-in cabinets
are the way to go. AHT’s plug-ins boast leakage
rates of less than 0.1%. Opting for a plug-in solution
dispenses with the need for both external production
of the cold and the secondary circuit to transport it.
Turkish manufacturer Ugür, meanwhile, produces
around 6,000 propane fridges per day; largely
thanks to demand from “big suppliers like
Pepsi, Unilever and Coca-Cola,” Özgür Erkek, the
company’s export director, told Accelerate.
This success with global beverage companies – who
often provide distributors such as supermarkets
and convenience stores with the fridges that display
their wares – has allowed Ugür, established in
1954, to become operational in 142 countries.
“Most of Europe and the United States has gone down
the hydrocarbons route but in some parts of South
America and Asia, this is taking a while,” Erkek says.
In a bid to enter the lucrative supermarket sector,
Liebherr showcased its new line of energyefficient
chest freezers using R290 for larger
sizes and R600a for smaller offerings.
The firm is confident its new products will prove
popular. “We are 20% better than the competition
in terms of energy savings,” insists Heiko Schulz,
international sales manager for food retail at Liebherr.
Schulz cites the company’s investment in research
and development at its energy department as
a key driver of cost savings for customers.
NAFEM Show, Orlando, Florida
Market Trends 29
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
When Liebherr began to target the supermarket sector,
it knew there would be a trade-off between energy
efficiency of the product on the one hand and visual
appeal on the other. “I think we have really found the
maximum possibility between the display [through the
glass freezer door] and energy efficiency,” Schulz says.
Schulz believes hydrocarbons are the clear answer
for plug-ins. “There is some activity with CO2 [as a
refrigerant for plug-in units] but I think the technology
is not really ready for the market yet,” he says.
“Hydrocarbon refrigeration will be the leading
technology,” he believes. The firm is currently growing
in Southeast Asia and plans to increase sales there.
Similarly, manufacturer Embraco has recently
seen success in bringing energy-efficient
compressors to the Asian market – notably selling
India’s first R290-based vertical freezer units
last year, according to CEO Luis Filipe Dau.
Pressure will increase in USA
Back in the United States, more regulatory action
is on the horizon; the EPA’s SNAP programme
plans to delist HFCs in stand-alone commercial
equipment in 2019 and 2020, forcing manufacturers
to switch to lower-GWP refrigerants.
Over the past two years, U.S.-based True
Manufacturing has converted about 80% of its
foodservice and food retail coolers and freezers from
HFCs to propane refrigerant, says Todd Washburn,
the company’s director of sales & marketing,
retail division. “The fact that we started with
hydrocarbons much earlier than others puts us in
a good position to meet the 2017 requirements.”
Another major OEM, Welbilt (formerly Manitowoc
Foodservice) has completed conversion of its reach-in
and under-counter refrigerator and freezer units for
chain restaurants to propane refrigerant from R404A.
The full conversion of those units to propane,
completed late last year, followed a rollout of
R290 units by a large chain customer, says
Sara Sunderman-Kirby, product manager
for Welbilt’s Delfield brand, who declined to
name the retailer without its permission.
Minus Forty Technologies Corp., a Georgetown,
Ontario-based manufacturer of freezer and
refrigerated cabinets, has converted all but one
of the 36 products in its portfolio to propane.
“We’ve been working towards converting our
entire product line to R290 for two years now,”
says Chris Strong, the company’s vice-president
of sales and marketing. “What we discovered
in our research and speaking to our component
suppliers is that we had a better chance of achieving
the DOE initiatives by converting to R290, because
it operates as a more efficient refrigerant.”
OEM Beverage Air also plans to convert all of
its myriad foodservice refrigeration equipment
to propane refrigerant from HFCs by the end of
the year, according to Bill Siskar, vice-president
of manufacturing and engineering.
So far, all under-counter, worktop and sandwich prep units
have been converted to propane. “Only hydrocarbons let
us meet the DOE 2017 requirements for under-counter
and worktop units,” he says. The conversion to propane
will also help the company deal with the EPA’s delisting
of HFCs in a few years. “It kills two birds with one stone.”
The journey towards hydrocarbon-based HVAC&R
technology – which began with a man called Wolo
back in the 1990s – is transforming the commercial
sector into an energy-efficient, lucrative and
climate-friendly business. CM, MG, AW & EI
AHT’s new Vento Green refrigerated
shelf at EuroShop 2017
30 Policy Analysis & Overview
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
charge limits
under spotlight
Standards bodies in the United
States and worldwide will consider
increasing hydrocarbon charge
limits this year amid mounting
pressure from industry and
– By Charlotte McLaughlin, Marie Battesti,
Michael Garry & Andrew Williams
Many experts believe that in order
to meet the objectives of global
HFC phase-down agreement struck
in Kigali, Rwanda last October,
refrigerant standards need revising.
Glenn Gallagher, air pollution specialist at
the California Air Resources Board (CARB) –
speaking at the ATMOsphere America 2017
conference in San Diego, California (5-7 June
2017) – expressed hope that A3 refrigerant
safety standards would be revised in time to use
flammable alternatives like hydrocarbons.
“Eventually, the codes and standards will be updated.
We don’t know if it’s going to be in three or five years.
We’re trying to extradite that where we can, by being
active on the [standards] committees,” Gallagher said.
Europe is seeing similar pressure to move.
Standards governing hydrocarbons must be
adapted to encourage their wider rollout, according
Policy Analysis & Overview 31
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
to a European Commission report on the barriers
posed by codes, standards and legislation to using
climate-friendly technologies in the refrigeration,
air-conditioning, heat-pump and foam sectors. The
report was published at the end of 2016 under the
EU’s F-Gas Regulation on phasing down HFC use.
Local building codes and fire regulations, as
well as transport and storage-related codes, can
“severely restrict” the use of flammable refrigerants
in many EU countries, the report declares.
Italy, Spain and France have the most severe
restrictions on using flammable refrigerants in
air-conditioning applications in certain types of
public access buildings, the EU report alleges.
In Italy a number of Ministerial Decrees ban
the use of flammable refrigerants in split airconditioning
applications, the report says.
Similarly in France, a single Decree creates
a nationwide barrier to using hydrocarbons
in split air-conditioning units and chillers
in public access buildings.
Such sentiments were echoed by UL – a U.S. safety
body – in its Flammable Refrigerants Webinar Series
on Codes and Standards Activities on 29 March 2017.
“The Montreal Protocol has driven the [U.S.]
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
adopt regulations, which in turn drive UL and
ASHRAE standards, which in turn are referenced
in the building codes,” said Randall J. Haseman,
UL’s principal engineer for refrigeration
and room air-conditioning equipment.
Prior to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal
Protocol, the U.S. EPA had already listed
hydrocarbons as suitable alternatives to HFCs in a
number of applications under the Significant New
Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme, playing a
key role in their adoption in the United States.
SNAP lists “acceptable substitutes” to high-GWP
refrigerants, either with or without restrictions
on their use. Ethane (R170), isobutane (R600a),
propane (R290) and hydrocarbon blend R441A
were listed as acceptable substitutes in certain
refrigeration and air-conditioning applications
in February 2015. These refrigerants have been
exempted from venting prohibitions, meaning
that they are easier to dispose of than HFCs.
The most recent SNAP application to be approved for
hydrocarbons was a 3 January 2017 decision to allow
the use of propane for ice machines, water coolers and
very low-temperature equipment (from -40°C (-40°F) to
-85°C (-121°F). The charge limit remains 150g, except
for new water coolers, for which the limit is 60g.
Other countries are also already implementing
HFC phase-down plans including Australia,
New Zealand and Canada.
Changes to standards are required to facilitate the
switch to low-GWP refrigerants, according to experts
who attended the 39th Meeting of the Open-Ended
Working Group (OEWG39) of the Parties to the Montreal
Protocol (11-14 July 2017) in Bangkok, Thailand.
A Workshop on Safety Standards Relevant to the
Safe Use of Low Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Alternatives to Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was held on
10 July prior to OEWG39. It addressed safety standards
for flammable refrigerants used in the HVAC&R sector.
It was organised at the request of China,
backed by other developing countries. China
has already submitted documents to the
International Electrotechnical Commission
(IEC) working group on air conditioning to
revise standards on flammable refrigerants.
Standards from the IEC, a worldwide body
that proposes rules governing how to use
electrical, electronic and related technologies,
influence the development of the market by
providing manufacturers and customers with
guidelines as to what is safe to use and buy.
At present, China’s HVAC&R sector mainly uses
HCFCs and high-GWP HFCs. Yet the government
is already setting about leapfrogging HFCs to
low-GWP refrigerants. In August 2016, the Chinese
Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Foreign
Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) – responsible
for climate and environmental policy – released
the First Catalogue of Recommended Substitutes
for R22. Natural refrigerants play a key role as
substitutes for R22 in the majority of the sectors
listed. Hydrocarbons R290 and R600a are particularly
recommended for room air conditioners, heat pump
water heaters and stand-alone refrigeration systems.
Six sessions were organised during the 10 July
meeting to discuss safety issues, with some speakers
suggesting it may be another four or five years before
any new international standards are adopted.
Representatives from India and China informed
participants of the significant progress they
had made in using hydrocarbon refrigerants
at higher charges and with more stringent
safety measures in their countries.
32 Policy Analysis & Overview
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
However, they pointed out that to facilitate large-scale
production, international standards would have
to allow them to export around the world.
The workshop conclusions were also presented to
the Parties to the Montreal Protocol at OEWG39
for further consideration. Another Meeting of the
Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol in November
will discuss these recommendations further.
A major international push
Amid pressure from industry and policymakers to raise
hydrocarbon charge limits, various bodies including
the IEC, and the Fire Protection Research Foundation
and the EPA in the United States, are committed to
reconsidering current safety standards in 2017.
The IEC working group on household and similar
electrical appliances has begun to prepare a draft
to change the charge limit on hydrocarbons. The
new limit is expected to change from 150g to
500g; this could shift the market towards bigger,
more efficient hydrocarbon cabinets once it is
adopted under the IEC standard IEC 60335-2-89.
“A new Draft for Comments (DC) document that
considers the 500g limit for propane charges
and which will also allow the use of slightly
flammable A2L safety class refrigerant alternatives
[was] circulated in May,” explains Embraco’s
Marek Zgliczynski, chair of IEC SC61C.
“If positively commented upon and if a consensus
is reached, the document will be submitted to the
SC61C committee to go to the first official vote as a
Committee Draft (CDV) during the Plenary Meeting
of the SC61C in October in Vladivostok,” he says.
Assuming a majority backs the new limit in
October’s plenary, then the final standard
amendment will be published.
At the same time a different IEC working group – the
SC61D – is considering “flexible charge size limits [in
a given room size] for A2 and A3 refrigerants” in airconditioning
applications, says consultant Dr. Daniel
Colbourne, who sits on the UNEP RAC&HP Technical
Options Committee under the Montreal Protocol.
The IEC 60335-2-40 standard applies to air
conditioning. It currently sets a maximum charge
limit of 990g of propane per circuit, with the
maximum limit varying according to the room area
and installation height, according to Colbourne.
The working group includes a Chinese delegation.
China has already submitted two proposals
regarding this standard. There is no formal date
for revising the standard, but any revision would
most likely take place in late 2017 or early 2018.
Both these IEC standards will inform any revision
of Chinese, European and U.S. standards too.
France recognises that national standards
will also need to be revised further.
Cédric Bourillet of France’s Ministry for the
Ecological and Inclusive Transition says, “all
this regulation has been published in a world
that was 100% HFC and that has since become
incompatible with the [EU] F-Gas [Regulation]”.
According to Bourillet, there will be a place for
hydrocarbons. The French Ministry of the Interior is
currently drafting a risk assessment study, the results
of which will be published this year. The study will
focus on the feasibility of raising charge limits for
flammable refrigerants in public buildings, in terms of
safety and level of training for the French workforce
(see ‘Hydrocarbons: A NatRef success story’, p.26).
Delegates from China in Bangkok
Photo by IISD/Sean Wu (enb.iisd.org/ozone/oewg39/11jul.html)
Policy Analysis & Overview 33
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
United States must act quickly
Brian Rodgers, UL’s principal engineer for heating,
ventilation and large-scale cooling, argued at a recent
UL seminar that international and UL standards must
complement one another more effectively in future.
For the United States this means, “many of these
revisions in standards [for flammable refrigerants]
must be published by the end of 2017, so the ICC
[the International Code Council] and the IAPMO
[the International Association of Plumbing and
Mechanical Officials] codes can be revised in
the next code cycle,” UL’s Haseman says.
Both the ICC and IAPMO cover the whole of the USA,
bar the states of Maine and Hawaii, and publish
updated editions of building codes and standards
every three years. The next revision is in 2018.
This date is very important as UL and ASHRAE
standards inform the ICC and IAPMO standards
and building codes. UL wants to update the
requirements before the 2018 date, so IAPMO
and ICC can revise their standards too.
For air conditioning, UL is proposing safety standards
that would require flammable refrigerant-based
air conditioners to be fitted with leak detection
systems, and to either keep their fans switched
on all the time, or only once a refrigerant leak
has been detected. The proposed standards
also cover refrigerant piping requirements.
ASHRAE, another body that sets U.S. standards,
is speeding up its normal process of revising
standards to meet the 2018 deadline by publishing
its next Addendum in 2017 rather than 2018.
The Addendum will be informed by the Fire Protection
Research Foundation’s research on A3s.
The research focuses on benchmarking risks from
leak and emissions testing, assessing flammable
refrigerants’ post-ignition risk, determining charge
limits, and producing a guide to handling and
servicing A2L refrigerant-based HVAC&R equipment.
At the upcoming FMI Energy & Store Development
conference on 24-27 September in Orlando, Florida,
Paul Anderson, senior director of engineering
at retailer Target, will present the U.S. Fire
Protection Research Foundation’s evaluation of
the fire hazard posed by flammable refrigerants
as a pathway to raising charge limits. Anderson
worked alongside the North American Sustainable
Refrigeration Council (NASRC) on the project.
This would lay the groundwork for raising the
150g federal charge limits on hydrocarbon
refrigerants in the United States.
The results will be used to update ANSI/ASHRAE
Standard 15-2013 (Safety Standard for Refrigeration
Systems) and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013
(Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants).
Many governments, standards bodies and
international forums, then, recognise that standards
governing hydrocarbons need revising and are
actively working to do so. CM, MB, MG & AW
Research to be presented at the FMI Energy & Store Development
Conference in Orlando, Florida will move the charge limit debate forward.
34 Infographic
Accelerate Corporate September 2017
International standards bodies
Hydrocarbon standards are being revised at the global level by the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in two working groups
HFC phase-down plans
IEC 60335-2-89
May decide to move A3
(hydrocarbon) charge limit
from 150g to 500g in 2018
IEC 60335-2-40
Possible increase of charge
limits for A3s (hydrocarbons)
and A2Ls (HFOs)
Alongside the IEC,
many national and
local standards
bodies are also
looking at revising
their own standards.
(under ratification)
International standards inform national standards
Driven by the HFC phase-down: Hydrocarbon standards revision
Infographic 35
September 2017 Accelerate Corporate
Alvaro de Oña
Andrew Williams
Marie Battesti
Michael Garry
Eda Isaksson
Charlotte McLaughlin
Devin Yoshimoto
Anna Salhofer
Juliana Gomez
Charlotte Georis
Art Director
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