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We continue to bring you exclusive coverage of Round 1 of Refrigerants Review, which was held at Atlantis The Palm Hotel in Dubai on March 20 and 21

| | May 13, 2012 | 4:18 pm
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We continue to bring you exclusive coverage of Round 1 of Refrigerants Review, which was held at Atlantis The Palm Hotel in Dubai on March 20 and 21. The event, organised by Climate Control Middle East, brought together high-profile refrigeration industry experts and policymakers, who exchanged their views on natural refrigerants, the phase-out of ozone-depleting and high global warming potential substances, as well as refrigerants recovery, recycling and reclaim. By Valeria Camerino.

After a number of presentations by industry players, which expressed the refrigeration industry’s views on regional and international policies, prominent international policymakers discussed recent advances in thinking, challenges and strategy updates during the afternoon session of Day 1 of the conference.

The session, moderated by Rajendra Shende, Former Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Chairman, TERRE Policy Centre, started with a talk by Cindy Newberg, Chief Alternatives and Emissions Reduction Branch, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who updated the audience on recent developments on alternatives and partnerships in the US, policies and approaches to reduce refrigerants’ charge sizes and emissions.

She pointed out that, in order to facilitate a smooth transition towards the phase-down of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), a number of strategies are being implemented in the US, such as introducing a tradable permit regulatory system phasing ODS, evaluating alternatives by identifying safer substitutes, managing existing supply through recovery, recycling and reuse, ensuring safe disposal and collaborating with partners.

“We look at all the factors,” Newberg said. “We don’t believe in a safe solution, but in a safer solution.”

As she explained, EPA evaluates substitutes that reduce overall risk to human health and environment.

As a result, the US government body launched the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Programme, which is aimed to evaluate and regulate substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals that are being phased out under the stratospheric ozone protection provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Under the programme, more than 400 substitute alternatives with lower overall risks have been reviewed, considering ozone-depleting potential (ODP) and global warming potential (GWP), flammability, toxicity, local air quality, ecosystem effects, and occupational health and safety.

The project is also evaluating next generation alternatives for ODS and HFCs. “There are 15-20 reviews we are working on right now,” Newberg revealed. More submissions are expected shortly, she added.

These include fluorinated and non-fluorinated alternatives.“Many of these are new molecules. Therefore, the process can be quite lengthy.”

Other categories under review comprise lower GWP foam blowing agents with properties likely to increase energy efficiency, refrigerants with low GWPs, such as HFC-32, HFOs, blends, and non-fluorinated substances.

EPA also prohibits intentional venting of HFCs and requires servicing practices for motor vehicles.

Furthermore, it has launched the GreenChill initiative, EPA’s partnership with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on ozone layer and climate change.

This is being achieved by providing supermarkets with information and assistance to facilitate the transition to refrigerants with better environmental profiles, lower refrigerant charge sizes and eliminate leaks, adopt green refrigeration technologies and environmental best practices.

In March, Newberg said, a major US supermarket, ‘Fresh & Easy’, opened a new GreenChill platinum-certified store in Folsom, California. While a standard store uses 3 lbs of refrigerant per 1,000 BTU evaporator heat load, this store only uses 0.1 lbs per 1,000 BTU, for a total of 70 lbs of refrigerant for the whole store.

As of 2011, the GreenChill programme boasts 7,300 partner stores in all 50 states, accounting for 20% of US food retail industry.

“When launched, we heard it was impossible for a company to get their corporate wide leak rate under 10%,” Newberg said. “That proved to be untrue! Several partners have done just that, while some partners go beyond that.”

John E Thompson, Deputy Director, Office of Environmental Policy, US Department of State, addressed the topic of HFCs and elaborated on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

As he explained, the objective of the coalition, which was officially launched last February, is to accelerate action on near term warming.

This new global initiative is aimed to seize the opportunity of realising concrete benefits on climate, health, food and energy resulting from reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).

The voluntary partnership, which currently includes six founding members — Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States, together with UNEP — will focus efforts on reducing black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and methane and complements CO₂ mitigation efforts as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In his view, SLCPs comprise about one-third of current warming. HFCs on the other hand, are a small component of current warming, but are rapidly growing. Lack of action on HFCs could counter progress on methane and black carbon, Thompson argued.

The first meeting of the coalition will be held on April 23-24, 2012, in Stockholm, Sweden, and will focus on defining actions to accelerate HFCs phase-down.

Day 1 of the event also featured a talk by Nina Burhenne, Head of Market Research at shecco, a B2B Marketing & Communications expert specialised in the HVACR and transport sectors, who presented the findings of the company’s ‘GUIDE 2012: Natural Refrigerants in the HVAC&R industry — a global study of market & policy trends.’

The survey was the first approach to illustrate and quantify the global market potential for natural refrigerants, which, she claimed, have zero ODP, zero or very low GWP and can replace all F-gases in all applications.

The main aims of the project were to outline the industry’s expectations for the period 2012-2020 for CO₂, NH3 and HCs, show barriers and opportunities for natural refrigerants, analyse the political situation in the EU and highlight industry initiatives in this field.

The study, which targeted 1,254 respondents from 92 countries, primarily among manufacturers, contractors, and component suppliers, examined the use of natural refrigerants in a wide range of applications, including the transport sector, residential and commercial buildings, industry and special applications and the food cold chain.

Most respondents were from the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Denmark, India and China.

Europe showed the greatest immediate adoption potential for natural refrigerants, followed by Australia / Oceania and North America.

As part of the study, shecco surveyed more than 1,000 supermarkets across Europe and found out that Denmark is leading the way in the uptake of CO₂ as a natural refrigerant, with 424 stores using it for food refrigeration.

Burhenne also revealed that some large supermarket chains like Carrefour and Tesco, have started to implement natural refrigerants in emerging countries like Turkey and China, as well as promoting local expertise.

According to the survey, more than 70% of respondents were “highly informed” or “well informed” regarding the benefits of natural refrigerants. However, awareness levels for the overall HVACR industry and its customers were quite low.

Indeed, one of the key barriers to the uptake of natural refrigerants was poor information exchange, along with lack of training and know-how.

Other barriers included technology and safety concerns as well as a number of misconceptions influencing public acceptance of natural refrigerants.

For 81% of the respondents, the key strengths of natural refrigerants consisted of environmental benefits, including direct and indirect emissions reductions and energy savings.

Life cycle costs reduction with regard to energy efficiency, operations and maintenance was also considered a major benefit.

Day 2 of the conference started with a technical overview of refrigerants by Ghaleb Abusaa, CEO of en³ Solutions, The Three Factors Company, who provided general information on refrigerants, with particular regard to their properties at standard saturated suction conditions of air conditioning equipment and at different outside conditions.

The following session, under the theme “The search for what’s ideal”, featured a number of industry presentations which focused on the factors that need to be considered when choosing refrigerants for high- and medium-temperature applications.

Martin Dieryckx, Member of the Executive Board, Daikin Europe and In-charge, Environment Research Centre, Europe, Daikin McQuay, pointed out that there are several factors affecting refrigerant choice. These include lower GWP, reduced charge, low emissions, high efficiency, peak load, high COP, affordability and reliability, easy installation and maintenance, safety, low toxicity and no or low flammability among others.

In his view, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, when it comes to selecting a particular refrigerant.

“Choose whatever refrigerant is best suited for each application,” he said.

He claimed that Daikin is developing R32 split air conditioners for both residential and commercial applications because R32 is better suited for these applications.

Dieryckx went on to describe the properties of R32. These comprise a potential of refrigeration capacity which is 1.6 times higher than R410A, lower pressure drop losses, higher coefficient of heat transfer compared to R410A and charge volume reduction.

Furthermore, he claimed that R32 can reduce CO₂-equivalent emissions by 75% and that it has the lowest power consumption compared to other refrigerants available on the market.

“In terms of seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), CO₂ is the worst, and the rest of candidates are equivalent to R410A,” he added.

In terms of safety, he emphasised that it is a must to consider the whole lifecycle of the refrigerant, from manufacturing until end of life.

As per ASHRAE and ISO classification, R32 is considered a class 2L refrigerant, that is to say, it’s slightly flammable. However, the burning velocity (<10 cm/s) is too slow to cause horizontal flame propagation or explosion.

Dieryckx also claimed that R32 is suitable for all types of compressors.

Dr Nacer Achaichia, Engineering Manager Refrigerants, EMEA at Honeywell pointed out that the criteria for refrigerant selection include capacity, efficiency and oil return among others.

He advocated the use of new generation HFOs, whose applications include automotive air conditioning, buses and trains, vending machines, air dryers, as well as medium- and low-pressure centrifugal chillers.

Dr Anwar Hassan, VP, ESG (KSA) and VP Technology at Johnson Controls, claimed that, in view of its global presence in industrial refrigeration, its company uses a diverse group of refrigerants, including natural refrigerants for its product offerings around the world.

In his view, the key challenge when choosing the ideal refrigerant is striking the right balance between environmental impact (ozone depletion, global warming and efficiency), and safety (toxicity and flammability).

He argued that, rather than talking about an ideal refrigerant, it’s more appropriate to talk about an “ideal set of ingredients”.

He added that the approach towards safety issues such flammability and toxicity in air conditioning and refrigeration needs to evolve significantly.

“This can only happen through strong collaboration between industry, government and well informed and objective sustainability advocates,” he said.“The question should be how to design a safe system to apply an attractive refrigerant and not to label it with a toxicity or flammability rating and consequently ban it.”

Mike Thompson, Global Leader of Refrigerant Strategy-Ingersoll Rand, Trane Commercial Systems, pointed out that there are a number of options today in the area of refrigerants.

The most commonly used flourocarbons are broken into two categories — non ozone depleters, and ozone depleters. The ozone depleters have been addressed by the Montreal Protocol. The non-ozone depleters are now being looked at under the Kyoto protocol due to their impact on global warming.

“In the 70s and 80s, it was easy to determine what the good and bad refrigerants were — there was only one issue — ozone depletion,” he said. “Today, it is not nearly as easy. Now we know that global warming is a factor, and many chemicals with a high global warming potential are getting phased out in some locations, such as Europe for automotive applications.”

He also added that some of these chemicals are flammable, while others have toxicity, efficiency or cost concerns.

“In the end there is no ‘perfect’ refrigerant choice — any refrigerant we choose is an effort in compromise,” Thompson argued.

From an environmental point of view, the perfect balance would be a refrigerant with minimal ODP and GWP, best delivered efficiency (part and full load), short atmospheric life, lowest possible leakage rate and high safety levels.

Although he admits that there’s no perfect refrigerant for the HVAC industry, he believes that R-123 strikes the greatest balance between ODP and GWP, followed by R-32 and R-152a. Unfortunately, their use is limited because they’re flammable.

“We need to be more flexible about flammability in the future,” he pointed out.

As he explained, chiller selection should focus on the entire life of the equipment including cost of energy (94.5%), first cost of chiller (5.18%), cost of initial charge of refrigerant (0.25%) and refrigerant added over 30 years (0.04%).

“When you are looking at refrigerant costs, the important factor is what it costs to add refrigerant that leaks over the life of the chiller,” Thompson said. “With average leakage rates of 0.5% per year, the cost of additional refrigerant over the life of the chiller is only 0.04% of the total life cycle cost. Refrigerants with a higher pressure, and resulting higher leakage rates will certainly be higher.”

Therefore, in his view, chiller selection should focus on high energy efficiency, minimal leakage rates and superior technical design.

One of the key topics discussed during Day 2 was the recovery, recycling and reclaim of refrigerants.

The challenges in reclaiming and recycling refrigerants for high- and medium temperature refrigeration applications were addressed by Stuart Fleming, founding partner and CEO of Dubai-based EnviroServe.

The company, which was founded in 2005, provides recovery and reclaim services, testing and certification, supply of pure refrigerant, support of legislation, equipment to manage, measure and contain the gas, as well as electronic waste recovery services.

He acknowledged that there are several barriers which are slowing down the implementation of recovery and reclaim mechanisms.

These include lack of government incentives, monitoring refrigerant venting with and through the local authorities (i.e. municipalities), training of technicians, corporate ethics.

Fleming claimed that his company has tried to raise awareness of the importance of recovering refrigerants by teaching people to recover, getting owners and Dubai Municipality involved, and tackling corporate ethics.

Ghaleb Abusaa discussed potential feasibility issues concerning the use of natural refrigerants in the Middle East.

He claimed that natural refrigerants have already been implemented across the region in different fields, including combustion turbine inlet air cooling (CTIAC), food processing, cold storage and chemical industry.

With regard to TIAC applications, many gas turbines, mainly located in Saudi Arabia, are using ammonia (NH3).

Abusaa emphasised that the major challenges to the widespread use of ammonia and other natural refrigerants across the Middle East include awareness and education, distance from populated areas in the case of CTIAC, proper after sale service, legislation and incentives.

“We can use ammonia in the Middle East for food refrigeration, but we need to get rid of misconceptions and fear,” he observed.

Torben Funder-Kristensen, VP, Public and Industry Affairs, Danfoss A/S Denmark – Danfoss Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Controls, discussed the use of CO₂ as a refrigerant in supermarkets.

Unlike other natural refrigerants, CO₂ has the advantage of being non-toxic.

Furthermore, it has low GWP.

However, in terms of energy efficiency, it has some limitations, as, when used with direct expansion and/or as brine for transcritical applications, it works better in colder climates.

In subcritical applications, CO₂ can also be used in cascade with another refrigerant, with direct expansion and / or as brine.

Funder-Kristensen claimed that many CO₂ systems have been successfully installed, especially in the EU.

The top applications for CO₂ in refrigeration cold chain comprise industrial refrigeration, food retail, transport refrigeration and bottle coolers.

Danfoss predicted that, in view of the environmental and financial benefits of using CO₂, the use of this refrigerant will continue to grow worldwide in the coming years.

Funder-Kristensen pointed out that the technical advantages of using CO₂ have not yet been fully exploited. Indeed, he sees a huge development potential, especially in the field of combining refrigeration and heating purposes.

Ali Sleiman, General Manager (Operations) at ADC Energy Systems, elaborated on the use of ammonia in industrial heavy-duty applications.

After briefly summarising ammonia’s properties in terms of toxicity flammability, availability and efficiency, and its common applications, he went to explain how his company introduced ammonia for cooling at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski slope located in Mall of the Emirates.

Sleiman emphasised that, given that the venue is a urban area, strict safety measures have been implemented to minimise any potential risk to the public.

These included leak detection and ventilation systems, as well as personnel training.

He advocated the implementation of UAE-wide safety regulations for ammonia and other refrigerants. “I hope that safety regulations about ammonia will be introduced at a federal level,” he said.

Emerging Global Industry Consensus: Refrigerant Choice To Protect Climate and Stratospheric Ozone

Dr. Stephen O Andersen, Director of Research, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) and Co-Chair, Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) of the Montreal Protocol, who delivered the keynote address on Day 1 of the event, and Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD), authored a presentation which summarises the key issues addressed during the conference.

Here it’s an overview of the most important points:

Global Refrigerant


  • Long, Hot, and Sometimes Humid Cooling Season
  • “Brown-outs” and Other Electricity Quality Problems
  • High Energy Cost; Low Equipment Durability
  • Climate Change Can Only Make Life Worse
  • Local Experts Key to Technical Innovation
  • Markets in Other Similarly Effected Regions
  • How Can Cooperation and Innovation Responsibly Serve Markets with Sustainable Technology?

Montreal Phase-out: Just-in-Time

  • 1974: Molina/Rowland sounded the Ozone Alarm; Consumer boycotts of CFC aerosol cosmetics stalls CFC growth
  • 1987: Montreal Protocol agreed; regulation & technology saves the ozone layer!
  • 2007: Scientists document extraordinary climate benefits of ODS phase-out
  • 2010: LCCP is The Climate Metric Now More Comprehensive!

Advantages of HFC Controls Under The Montreal Protocol

  • Every country is a Party to Montreal Protocol
  • Experience, confidence, trust & community
  • Scientific, environmental, technical and economic assessments
  • TEAP assessments by industry experts
  • Controls paced to technology; developing country costs paid by Multilateral Fund (MLF)
  • Ozone units in 145+ developing parties
  • Rapid adjustment process to strengthen
  • Essential Use Exemptions, if needed

The Importance of Refrigeration & Air Conditioning


  • Ozone protection achieved with familiar chemistry and mild product redesign
  • Climate protection requires break-through chemistry, radical redesign, energy efficiency and utility peak load reduction
  • Near-zero refrigerant emissions mitigates ozone depletion, climate forcing, flammability, atmospheric fate, toxicity, and price
  • Profits and satisfaction reward engineers for making the world safe for future generations

Refrigerant Reality

  • Chemical nomenclature and labels are unreliable indicators of environmental acceptability
  • Life-cycle analysis cuts through the rhetoric
  • The realised GWP of a chemical substance includes all manufacturing emissions
  • Short-term and long-term atmospheric impact are both important to climate protection: no one correct GWP time interval

New Thinking on Refrigerants

  • Select The Refrigerant With Superior LCCP
  • Manage Refrigerant Emissions To The Lowest Practical Life-Cycle Level
  • Offset ODP Of HCFC Refrigerants To Be “Chlorine Neutral”
  • Offset GWP Of All Refrigerants To Be “Carbon Neutral”
  • Design And Operate Equipment To Maximise LCCP

The “Andersen 5-Step”

  • Calculate the “safety-screened energy efficiency” of products satisfying reasonable health & safety standards;
  • Compare the LCCP of the safety-screened systems for the climate, electricity carbon intensity, and owner preferences;
  • Select the superior LCCP technology in cases of clear advantage, but in cases of comparable LCCP, favor the lowest GWP;
  • Proceed with investment, unless an emerging technology is far superior and worth waiting for; and
  • Limit cumulative life-cycle emissions to acceptable levels by engineering, economic incentives, and training

2012: Clear & Sustainable Technical


  • Hydrocarbons for household refrigerators/freezers, stand-alone retail refrigerators/freezers, and small room air conditioners
  • Hydrocarbons, CO² and ammonia for supermarket refrigeration (driven by supermarket industry leadership)
  • HFC-32 for larger room air conditioners
  • HFC-1234yf for automobile A/C and other HFC-134a applications where natural refrigerants have inferior LCCP
  • HCFC-123 for building air conditioning chillers

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