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US industry announces $5 billion refrigerant research plan

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) president and CEO Stephen Yurek announces American HVACR industry will invest $5 bn in research and development funds over the next decade for new-generation refrigerants and equipment

The announcement took place at an event, sponsored by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Mr Yurek told those in attendance, which included Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and State Department Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, that the HVACR industry has been proactive in developing refrigerants with lower GWP.

“Close to $2 billion has been spent by the industry since 2009 researching energy-efficient equipment and the utilisation of low-GWP refrigerants,” Yurek stated, “and over the next 10 years, the HVACR industry will invest an additional $5 billion for R&D and capital expenditures to develop and commercialize low-GWP technologies.”

Yurek identified the positive, proactive efforts by the HVACR and water heating industry in energy conservation and environmental stewardship.

He said that in the late 1980s, the industry supported international efforts to protect the ozone layer by developing non-chlorine-containing refrigerants, and agreeing to an aggressive timetable to phase-out ozone depleting chemicals while steadily improving the energy efficiency of its equipment.

“During the past decade, the industry has worked diligently to reduce the potential impact on the Earth’s climate of refrigerants used in our equipment,” Yurek said.

He said that AHRI and its member companies launched the Low-GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program in 2011, the first phase of which was completed at the end of 2013. The second phase of the program is currently underway. The intent of the program is to evaluate different refrigerants in several applications.

“The industry is committed to working with the international community in transitioning away from high-GWP refrigerants in a managed and orderly process, and this research is a tangible part of that commitment,” he said.

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, an industry coalition representing more than 95 per cent of U.S. HFC production and a significant majority of the user industries, announced actions that support a Montreal Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. The Alliance also announced that it commits to take actions and support policies with a goal to reduce global HFC greenhouse gas contribution by 80 per cent by 2050 relative to current emissions. This will be accomplished by advancing technologies; improving servicing practices; increasing recovery, reclamation, and reuse; and conducting technology assessments and workshops.

Other commercial commitments include:

Refrigerant producer Arkema, committed to reduce GHG emissions from its operations by an additional 30% by 2020, as well as its net energy purchases by 1.5% on average each year through the year 2020.

Coca-Cola has set a goal for 100 per cent of its new cold drink equipment to be HFC-free. To date, Coca-Cola has more than 1 million units of HFC-free refrigerated equipment in use throughout its global system, achieving 30% use of HFC-free refrigeration equipment this year.

Manufacturer Carrier announced today its commitment to pursue the commercialisation of HFC-free refrigerants in road transportation refrigeration by 2020, building on its expertise with HFC-free carbon dioxide refrigerant in marine container and food retail refrigeration.

Danfoss announced it is partnering with the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy to establish a stakeholder task force to accelerate adoption of standards and building codes for next generation, low-GWP refrigerants.

DuPont announced that its new products are anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas content of refrigerants by some 90 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in the US, and 245 million tonnes worldwide by 2025.

Emerson Climate Technologies said it will launch a full line of compressors, next year controls approved with three non-flammable low-GWP HFCs, while in July 2015, it will offer its complete line of compressors with CO2.

Hillphoenix announced that it is commercialising a carbon dioxide booster system now commercially viable for all climate regions.

Honeywell said it will cut annual production of high-GWP HFCs by nearly 50 per cent by 2020 on a carbon dioxide equivalent basis. prior to 2020,  spending a more than $880 million for research and development and new capacity.

Johnson Controls committed to spend $50 million over the next three years to develop new products and improve and expand its existing low-GWP portfolio.

PepsiCo announced a goal that all of its future point of sale equipment bought in the US, will be HFC-free by 2020.

Red Bull, the creator of the energy drink category, said that it will order an estimated 32,000 climate-friendly hydrocarbon coolers for 2015.

Target, an upscale discount retailer with approximately 1775 stores in the US, said it has five stores that use carbon dioxide refrigeration systems and commits to expanding this technology to two additional sites in 2015. It said it is also partnering with chemical producers to test HFO refrigerants.

Thermo King announced that it be using a refrigerant with about half the GWP compared to what is currently used. These new offerings will be available in 2015-2016 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and to the United States upon EPA approval of the alternative refrigerant.

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