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RAC’s HFO webinar outlines opportunities and challenges for retail

Energy efficiency and the lifecycle cost impacts of moving over to refrigerant that has lower levels of flammability were key topics of the latest RAC webinar held in conjunction with Chemours

The retail sector needs more consideration of cooling system performance and energy efficiency while making use of lower-refrigerant GWP, the latest RAC webinar has heard.

The event, which was held in conjunction with supplier Chemours, saw Mark Hughes, business development manager of fluorochemicals with the company, talking to RAC editor Andrew Gaved about developments in commercial refrigeration.

Mr Hughes, who is responsible for the company’s lower-GWP Opteon branded refrigerants in Europe, spoke about potential pathways to curb emissions of global warming refrigerants in supermarkets.

He focused on two successful installations of HFO Opteon blends, XL40 and XL20 – in a large store for Asda and in a convenience store for Central England Co-op respectively - which have introduced an element of flammability into refrigerants in UK retail refrigeration.

The webinar also discussed the report into lifecycle costs that Chemours had commissioned consultant Wave Refrigeration to carry out on a variety of lower-GWP options, which concluded that the lifecycle costs of installation and energy combined were lower for the ‘very low GWP’ HFO systems than for other options, including CO2, secondary circuits and integrals.

Mr Hughes argued during the webinar that addressing the numerous drivers behind climate change and global heating, which are becoming an increasing political and public concern, were multifaceted and could not be addressed via legislation of a single family of products or types of technology.

He noted that official data compiled over the last decade by both European authorities and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted that the majority of recent greenhouse gas emissions in markets such as Europe are linked to CO2 output from burning fossil fuels and industrial processes.

Mr Hughes said it was therefore vital to ensure that a push towards using lower GWP products was balanced with overall energy efficiency in their use to ensure the adoption of new gases did not lead to increased levels of carbon emissions at the power station – so-called indirect emissions.

He added, “Within the refrigeration industry, it would be easy to assume that the only issue requiring attention would be the emissions of the widely used HFC refrigerants. This could be either be leak reductions or the replacement of HFCs with low GWP alternatives. However, the largest contribution to climate change over the lifetime of a refrigeration system is normally the indirect emissions from electricity generation. Therefore, system performance and energy efficiency have a potentially far greater effect than the GWP of refrigerant itself.”

The webinar also saw Mr Hughes answering audience questions on a number of topics including detailing how the projects had sought to mitigate the risk of flammability, required when implementing A2l systems – including the impact on expenditure on the projects.

Mr Hughes said that any technology replacing systems designed for R404A or other non-flammable products would require some additional expenditure that he argued would be around a maximum of five per cent of planned costs.

He said, “The main issue is around making sure you do a risk assessment, which shows you what mitigation you need and then, where needed, you can put these additional measures in. Some of those do require additional money, but in the case of working with Asda, we took a belt and braces approach to flammability risk, with the input of their insurer, by putting in things such as leak detection, additional ventilation and fans in cabinets.”

He added: “The idea was that through future installs we would see what we needed to put in – effectively what was the ‘braces’ to add to the ‘belt’.

As a result of this work, Asda is working on developing a standard that can be applied to installation of all A2L HFOs.

Other questions raised during the event included what impacts there may be on charge size from undertaking similar projects in estates with cold rooms.

The full recording of the webinar can be heard at tiny.cc/lusigz

First-time listeners just need to sign-up and provide an e-mail address to get free access to the event.


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