Environmental concerns, most notably the destruction of the earth’s ozone layer and Global Climate Change present a serious challenge to owners of refrigeration and HVAC systems with HCFC and HFC refrigerants. As the HCFC production phase down completes its cycle in 2020, grocery retailers and facility managers now face restrictions on high GWP HFC refrigerants. Having an understanding of the rules and regulations that are in place, as well as a plan designed specifically for your facilities is our best advice in confronting these very important issues.

Source is poised to provide a complete portfolio of products focused on the most viable refrigerant alternatives for your facility. We are ready to assist in the formulation of your conversion/refrigerant transformation strategy. Our refrigerant conversion experts are at the ready to assist in the design, planning and execution of your plan.

Some Key items to keep in mind regarding refrigerant regulations and actions that may affect future directions:

HCFC Phase out:

  • The Montreal Protocol ODS/HCFC phase out is on track, production stops January 1, 2020 (possibly sooner for some more obscure HCFC’s). Each year up to the end of 2019, a reduction in production allocations takes effect.
  • Common refrigerants affected by the HCFC phase out include R22, R408A, R409A, R402A and R401A. Supplies continue to be stressed, prices have been on a steep incline over the last couple of years.
  • Conversion replacement gas options have been a moving target, some are now not allowed due to their high GWP ratings (R404A, R507, R422D). Lower GWP alternatives such as R448A are leading the transition from HCFC’s and some HFC’s. This refrigerant has the lowest GWP rating of most replacements for R22 and R404A/R507, and functions similarly.
  • Conversion execution has become a familiar activity, as many stores and system types have been encountered, and processes have been refined.

 

Recent EPA Actions:

  • Authority within SNAP (Strategic New Alternatives Policy) has been broadened to include alternatives to HCFC’s. These include HFC/HFO substitute refrigerants. SNAP has the authority to “de-SNAP” certain refrigerants that were once considered viable alternatives, but now do not pass the “Low GWP” test.
  • EPA annual leak rate allowances have changed, and are effective 1-1-19. The following changes apply:
    • For Industrial Process Refrigeration, 30%, down from 35%
    • For Commercial Refrigeration, 20%, down from 35%
    • Comfort Cooling, 10% down from 15%
  • Periodic leak inspections are now the rule, unless continuously monitored by an automatic leak detection system.
  • Leak repair verification tests are now the rule, required after a system has returned to normal operating conditions after the leak is repaired. Documentation is required for this event.
  • Some commonly used refrigerants, such as R404A, R407A and R507 have been deemed un-acceptable for use in new installations for retail food refrigeration effective 2021. Similar refrigerant restrictions for cold storage refrigeration have also been included, taking effect in 2023.
  • Use of common refrigerants such as R404A and R507 is prohibited for remodel or retrofit applications.

 

Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol:

  • Provides for a phasedown process for HFC refrigerants as the use and proliferation of these substitutes are directly tied to the ODS phaseout, and have GWP characteristics many times higher than CO2.
  • The amendment establishes a baseline, and pre-determined steps for reduction in production allocations.
  • It is not a phase-out, but a mechanism to reduce production levels and the associated threat to the environment over time. The first reduction in production allocation occurs in 2024, with a baseline established for 2020-2022 average HFC consumption.

 

Emergence of Natural Refrigerants as an Alternative Solution

Over the last 10 years, the U.S. Commercial refrigeration industry has advanced the use of natural refrigerants for grocery retailers and other related installations. As the technology has evolved, retailers have enjoyed the benefits of having low or no GWP refrigerants in their systems, and have gathered significant data that points to these as being viable alternatives for new installations, and soon, retrofits. The natural refrigerants most widely used include Ammonia, CO2 and Propane. Each has its own unique design requirements. Source has been involved with the design, installation and maintenance of natural refrigerant systems for many years, and can provide an objective view of how these options may fit into your strategy.

The Source Conversion Strategy can be broken down into 4 main elements: Program Planning and Organization; Survey and Engineering; Execution; Commissioning.   Each element is described below in additional detail. It would be our intent to allow our customers to pick and choose the services that best fit their needs.

WHY Source?

When choosing a partner to address your refrigerant transformation needs, you have options. If your goals include

the development of a strategy that minimizes risk, keeps in step with the maze of regulations that one must deciphur, ensures that your conversions are being executed in an efficient, consistent and professional manner, and that leave you with an efficient engineered and commissioned facility, Source is your only real option!

Process Step Key Components Customer Benefit/Value
Conversion Program Planning & Organization
  • Planning, Budgeting
  • Communication
  • Prioritizing
  • Refrigerant banking goals, options
  • An overall conversion plan that considers risk mitigation, scope timing, cost, gas banking options, great tool for budgeting
  • A well thought-out plan
Survey & Engineering
  • Detailed engineering review to define scope of work for each conversion
  • Survey of each location for enabling accurate engineering
  • Recommendations for modifications/improvements for each store
  • Assurance that each conversion is being reviewed by professional engineers to ensure that the best refrigerant choice considering specific equipment and corporate GWP objectives – Opportunities for optimizing system performance post-conversions
Refrigerant Change-Out
  • Execution of change-outs per the detailed conversion plan and engineering review; coordinated with the local store operations to minimize store disruptions
  • Change-outs executed by the largest expert service provider in the industry with the size, expertise and resources to work around your schedule to minimize store disruptions and ensure the highest quality conversions; consistency
System Commissioning
  • Optimization of the entire system, including the EMS, post conversion
  • Ensures that each newly converted system is optimized for energy usage and performance