U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
Hydrocarbon Refrigerants in Self-Contained Commercial Refrigeration Equipment (text version)
Hydrocarbon refrigerants, already in widespread use internationally, are beginning to gain acceptance in the U.S. market. In this webinar, representatives from Emerson Climate Technologies and True Manufacturing provided an introduction to hydrocarbon refrigerants, discussed their potential uses in retail and food service applications, and presented an overview of the technologies and features used in systems utilizing hydrocarbons. Time was reserved at the end of the presentations for questions from attendees.
Below is the text version of "Hydrocarbon Refrigerants in Self-Contained Commercial Refrigeration Equipment," originally presented on July 30, 2012. In addition to this text version of the audio, you can listen to a recording of the webinar (MP3 7.9 MB).
Hi, good afternoon, everybody. I'm seeing 1:05 Eastern here, and it looks like we have about a good 45 or 50 people on the line. So, I think it's a good time to start it off. I want to thank everyone for joining us today. I'm Collin Weber with Navigant out of DC, working on behalf of the Department of Energy's Commercial Building Alliances. Today we're presenting a webinar, two presenters from industry on hydrocarbon refrigerants and commercial refrigeration equipment. A bit of housekeeping before we get going, we just ask everyone who's not presenting or asking a question at a given time to place their lines on mute so that everyone else can hear the presenters or speakers clearly. I'd like to start off with just a brief bit of introduction from Bill Goetzler, the Retail Refrigeration Project Team Leader. Bill, I believe you're on the line so...
I am, thank you very much, Collin. I also just wanted to briefly say thank you to everybody who's attending, and especially to our presenters, Rajan from Emerson, and Todd from True Manufacturing. A lot of people have expressed interest in recent months in learning more about how hydrocarbons can be applied effectively in commercial refrigeration equipment. This was one of the topics that was requested by members of the Commercial Building Energy Alliance Refrigeration Team, and so we were fortunate to be able to round up a couple of representatives from leading manufacturers who are applying hydrocarbon refrigerants in commercial refrigeration applications, and we thank them, and we hope that we'll all be able to learn something from them, and at the end of the presentations there is time for Q&A. So, we encourage people to think of appropriate questions and have at it towards the end of each presentation. So, that's all I needed to say, Collin, back to you, and then on to Rajan and Todd.
All right. Thank you, Bill. I think that pretty much covers the introduction here. You can see on the slide just a brief overview of what we're planning to do today. And so, I think without further adieu, I know as Bill mentioned and as I've noticed just from the volume of people on the line, there's definitely been an interest. So, at this point, I think I'd like to just hand it over to – oh, sorry, before I do that, we did have just a brief disclaimer on behalf of the department here which is, obviously, the material presented in the webinar is based upon the individual expertise and interpretations of the presenters and their respective employers, and therefore, doesn't constitute a view that is on behalf of or endorsed by the US DOE. One topic that, sort of, precipitated this whole discussion or this concept of being able to do – [Audio skip] here in the US is the EPA's SNAP, a Significant New Alternatives Policy program, and therefore, any questions pertaining to SNAP should be directed towards that agency. So, at this point, I'd like to turn it over to Rajan, Vice President of Engineering Services and Sustainability, Emerson Climate Technologies, to discuss propane refrigeration products. Thank you.
Thank you, Collin, and thanks, Bill, for giving me this opportunity to talk to all of you here, and thanks to all the participants who have joined this webinar. For the next about 20 – 25 minutes I hope to take you through a general overview of refrigerants, and where we are, and what some of our efforts have been in trying to identify what special refrigerants are, and what kind of guidelines we follow which, sort of, will lead to this issue of, you know, why we're even looking at propane as a refrigerant. And then we'll talk about propane, specifically, about its properties, and I'll show you a test case of how this refrigerant performed in one of our compressors in an actual system, and I will conclude with some safety pointers and things like that before I turn it over to Todd to pick it up from there and give his presentation as well. So, with that, let's go to the second chart, Collin.
This is actually a chart that I saw recently which, to me, is a fairly nice overview of where we are and why we have come so far in the different generations of refrigerants. If you look back at the 1850s and almost up to the '30s, we were using sulfur dioxide, and ammonia, and CO2, and hydrocarbon, and some of them were highly flammable; some of them were highly toxic, and all of that, sort of, gave way to the '30s and '40s to CFCs, and much later to CFCs, and as you all know, the interest in the ozone layer then led to the start of HFCs. The one thing to keep in mind is that even though in the 2000s, we started accusing the HFCs for having high global warming potential. If you go back and look at some of the earlier refrigerants, the HFCs actually replaced – they actually replaced some very high global warming potential candidates.
So, in a manner of speaking, we have been going in the right direction in terms of GWP, and safety, and performance, and everything, and now of course, here we are in 2010 and beyond, and we're looking not only at low GWP alternatives, which I'm not gonna talk about other than just briefly showing you a chart on it, but we're also looking at natural refrigerants once again, and these would be hydrocarbons, ammonia, and CO2 as the top three natural refrigerants, and today's presentation is all about hydrocarbons. Let's go to the next chart.
If you look at all the different applications in the refrigerant landscape, you'll see that at no time did we ever have – [call voice interference]. Could we have somebody who is in the audience mute their phone, please? Thank you. If you look at all these different applications, all the way from industrial through transport, food retail, food service, including air conditioning, both commercial and residential, you'll see at the bottom that the type of refrigerants that are – [call voice interference]. Collin, do you want to make the general announcement?
Yes, as we mentioned before, if everyone on the line could just please mute their respective lines with the exception of Rajan, this would be greatly appreciated. I know we have a lot of people on the line, but you know, we've all worked hard to put this together, and everyone's interested today so it'd be very helpful. Thank you.
Thank you. So, if you look at the bottom you'll notice that the refrigerants run the gamut all the way from ammonia, and 134a, and even propane, and that is used quite a lot in industrial, all the way to 410a and 404a, and again, CO2 in some of the refrigeration applications. The point about this chart is to say that there has never been at any time in the history of refrigeration air conditioning one refrigerant that has been applied across all applications all over the world, and therefore, I don't think we're going to see that going forward 'cause we are going to see a lot of different refrigerants, and as you might expect, both naturals and synthetics will play a big role among the nationals. Of course, today, we are talking about propane. Next chart.
This is a chart that I have shown before which is to show why we moved away from CFCs to HFCs, and the reason why I bring this chart back again is to show that our move from CFCs to HFCs was really done because of a current problem. We had an ozone depletion that you can see in the bottom left, and this ozone depletion we knew was being caused by CFCs, and therefore, that lead to the phaseout of CFCs, and eventually, the phaseout of HFCs as well. And so, this is to say that it was to solve a current problem.
If you go to the next chart, you'll see that when we are talking about global warming which is why we've got all this interest in natural refrigerants and so on, global warming is not because of a current problem in the sense that we don't have a significant issue arising directly from HFCs. If you look at that bottom right, you'll see that little sliver, and that's the direct global warming effect which is roughly around 2 percent from all the HFCs today. Then if you take all the energy contributions, that totals to about 10 percent of the global carbons emissions coming from refrigeration A/C and heat.
But what has happened is with the growth of the HVAC industry in China, and India, and other developing nations, we expect that this 10 percent number could very easily grow to become 20 percent in another 30 years or so, and it is this concern about the future impact of HFCs that have brought so much attention on the HFCs, and in particular, on 404a because of it being one of the highest GWP refrigerants, which as we all know, is one of the dominant refrigerants that's used in refrigeration. Next chart, please.
So, when you look at all these things and you see, okay, what is everybody doing about it? On the left-hand side, I have a brief overview of the European Gas Regulation, and you'll see right at the very bottom that what they are focused on is primarily the full and complete limitation of HVAC regulation which focuses a great deal on leaks, and containment, and end-of-life management, and so on, which is really great because, obviously, that is one of the most important things you can do to any manmade substance or any substance that we use in any of our daily lives.
And so, the second thing that they're talking about is possibly a cap and a phase down of HFCs, and there are a lot of discussions going on in Europe right now about that. And the third item that they're talking about is probably some kind of a targeted phaseout or targeted elimination of one or two refrigerants that could have a lot of alternatives, and 404a is definitely high on the list because, as we will see later on, 404a does have a lot of different alternatives, again, propane being one of them. So, this is really what is going on in Europe, and we won't know much about it until towards the end of this year.
And then if you look on the right-hand side, you'll notice that in Australia what is going on is that they have imposed a tax, a carbon tax on refrigerants based upon the GWP, and you'll notice that if you look at 404a, it is a bit to roughly around $75.00, Australian dollars, which is roughly about the same as the US dollar. So, that's about $75.00 dollars per kilogram, about $35.00 or so per pound of 404a which is significant, but this is just the tax part of it, and then there are a lot of additional fees and such that get added on. And so, what happens is, you know, that $35.00 really looks more like $80-85.00 in terms of the tax. Let's go to the next chart, please.
Now, I mentioned that in Europe they were looking at a phase down of HFCs, and the same thing has also been looked at – proposed, I guess, by North America which is basically United States, Canada, and Montreal – I'm sorry, Canada and Mexico, and this phase down of HFC, as you can see in this proposal, we're talking about going anywhere from 100 percent all the way down to 15 percent sometime in the year 2035 and beyond, and it's due to some things being shown. Now, this is a proposal. It was something that was proposed by the United States and from Canada to amend the Montreal Protocol, and it has been tried about three or four times in the past several years, and they have not had much success, and we really don't know if this is gonna go anywhere. However, this particular proposal could get picked up by Europe when they start talking about regulations they are looking at. Why is all this important? All of this is important because it says that we have to march in the direction of lower GWP refrigerants. Let's go to the next chart.
And one more piece of item that you may or not be aware of and this is something that is relatively new in the United States is something called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. It started just in the February and March timeframe, and it's goal is, as I say, in the second model to pollutants in the atmosphere, and it's designed to do this on a voluntary basis, and one of the important things that is, for us, it's important from an industry point of view is that HFCs are included in this, and this could be a vehicle to try and reduce some of our dependence on HFCs. We don't know. There are a lot of things that are still unknown about it, and we just need to be aware and can work on this and focus on this as we move forward.
Now, there was recently a conference that was held in Bangkok by CCAC and various other parties which was quite well attended by people from all over the world, and of course, a lot of different refrigerants were talked about, and these are all the various factors that are happening. There are various things that are happening around us that is influencing our industry in one way or the other and putting pressure on our usage of HFCs. Let's go to the next chart, please.
Finally, this is something that, again, many of you, I'm sure, are aware of, and this is this Forum, and that's about 400 companies that are members of this worldwide, and there's quite a few retailers, 144, and there was a place that was made back in 2010, and I've just taken a small sample of it and showed that the refrigeration forum begin phasing out hydrofluorocarbon HFC refrigerants as of 2015 and replace them with non-HFC refrigerants. And so, this is yet another force, if you will, that is causing a lot of interest in many different refrigerants, CO2 and propane. Let's go to the next chart, please.
So, Emerson, as you all probably are aware that we are in a lot of different areas, and we do produce compressors for all these different refrigerants, and therefore, the choice of refrigerants and the direction in which the industry goes is extremely important to us. And so, when we look at all these different refrigerants and what we should do in terms of developing products, these are some of our guiding principles. We believe in this holistic mixture of selection for safety, environment, performance, and total cost has to be included, and one of the ways in which you do that is to use this lifecycle, kind of, performance, of course, which I'll talk about in a minute.
And we are aware and everybody here is aware that there is gonna be a lot of different choices available to customers, both synthetics and naturals, and we have to be able to, you know, work in all these different arenas, and the third board is important because we think that drive for efficiency – globally, not just in air conditioning but refrigeration as well, because we all know that there are standards that are developing in California and elsewhere where they talk about equipment efficiency and improving efficiency what we've always had. We think that this drive for efficiency and loads for the refrigerants is going to result in different solutions and various applications and different regions as well. CO2 and propane are finding, of course, there's interest in ammonia as well, even though ammonia has been used – and I'm talking about in our segment of the business, even though it's been used quite a lot industrially for a long, long time. The next chart, please.
I mentioned the lifecycle and performance. This is a chart that, you know, I hope that you all keep in mind no matter where and when you start talking about refrigerants because there are two components to the impact of refrigerants, whatever the refrigerant might be, whether it's an HFC or a natural refrigerant. One is a direct level warming which comes from the leakage and the GWP refrigerant, and the other one is an indirect level warming which comes from the energy consumption. By the way, this energy consumption part depends an awful lot not only on the refrigerant and the efficiency of the system, but how the system is designed. Plus, it also depends upon where the energy that you consume comes from.
In our case, in the United States, you know, typically, one kilowatt hour is equivalent to about – I think it's 0.75 kilograms of CO2 condition into the atmosphere. There are some northern European countries that are as low as 0.01 kilograms, and there are countries like China and India that are way up there in 1 kilogram because I think they get a lot of their power from coal and, you know, fossil fuels, other fossil fuels, things like that. The direct global warming, for example, for something like propane would be low not only because it has a low GWP, but also because propane systems are inside their nature they're designed to be extremely leak tight. So, when you don't have leaks and you have strong, good practices on how you recover the refrigerant and don't just vent it, then the direct global warming tends to be very, very low. So, then for all those refrigerants, then indirect becomes an important factor. These are some of the things you keep in mind because when people – you know, very often people lose sight of the energy consumption.
And one last point I'll make about energy consumption, then we'll move onto the next chart, is you not only have to worry about your annual energy consumption because that is dollars, and that is impact on the environment, but in a lot of times you also have to worry about your demand for energy during the peak hours, and that can have impact as well because a lot of places where they have demand charge that is tacked onto your energy bill in addition to everything else. So, those are all of the things you have to factor, keep in mind as you start looking at all these different options. So, next chart, please.
This is really a landscape of all the new and existing refrigerants that are coming, and if you look at this, on the horizontal x-axis I show the GWP. By the way, this is only a qualitative chart. It is not to scale so you cannot look for a specific GWP number and expect a bullet there to be in exactly the right place. And then on the y-axis, you will see that I have all different kinds of application data, high-pressure refrigerants and then the middle is the one that is of interest to us in this seminar which is refrigerants 404a and R22. And so, if you start on the extreme right you'll notice we have 404a which is a very high refrigerant, and of course, we all are aware of 407a, and 407f, and 407b, and R22 which are all lower GWP, but approximately the same in terms of pressures and performance.
And then I have a group of refrigerants circled in the blue, and it says synthetic refrigerants existing in new applications. Many of these refrigerants are still not yet mostly available, but they're from chemical manufacturers like Dupont, and Honeywell, and Arkema. So, I wanted to just point out some of the examples there from Dupont has DR #33, and Honeywell has something called X-40 which are both roughly around 1300 GWP, and they're working on releasing them as replacements for 404a. So, when you look at 404a with a GWP of 3922 or nearly 4,000, this is a significant improvement with DR #33 and X-40.
Notice, also, that the box is colored green which means that these are all A-1 refrigerants, and we'll see what they are in just a moment, which means they're non-flammable, and then over to the left I have another group of refrigerants that are circled, and these are synthetic refrigerants for new applications that are much lower GWP, and in our case, if you notice there's something called DR7, L20, and L20, and so on, they're all roughly around 200 – 250 GWP, very low GWP refrigerants, considered to be replacements for 404a, and they're not yet commercially available, of course.
But these are slightly pink in color which indicates that they are mildly flammable, and again, we'll see what. And, of course, you have the two naturals there, ammonia and propane, and all the way to the top with very high pressure you have CO2. CO2 is one that was colored green. Propane is flammable and therefore it's colored red, and ammonia is not just mildly flammable but it's also toxic, and that's why it's got a different shade. I'm not gonna talk about the other refrigerants on this chart, but if there is any interest, we can always have another time to go over these in greater detail. So, let's go to the next chart, Collin.
I mentioned A1, A2, and A3, and so on. What are these different classifications? If you look on the horizontal – on the top, you'll notice that we have toxicity, low toxicity and high toxicity, and then on the vertical there is flame propagation where there's no flame propagation, then I'm gonna jump a row to low flammability and then high flammability. So, low toxicity and no flame propagation is what we are all used to which in all the agents like 404a and so on, but they're all classified as A1. And then if you go down one step, you'll notice that we have the lower flammability for A2, and then the high flammability which is what is of interest to us today which is particularly hydrocarbon.
There is a new category that has been introduced which is called 2L which is right there in the middle that you see, and those are all the new blends. Those are the boxes you saw early that are all pink in color. These are mildly flammable, and therefore, ammonia now finds its place in the 2L category, and now is classified as C2L, whereas all the blends that we saw earlier are all classified A2L. Let's go to the next chart, please.
Talk a little bit more about the flammability – here are two charts, one on the left and one on the right. Let's just start with the one on the left. The left basically shows you the minimum energy that you require to ignite a refrigerant on the y-axis, and how much of the refrigerant you need for unit volume on the x-axis. So, the smaller the amount of refrigerant you need and the less the amount of energy you need to ignite it, but then the chance of the flame operating is pretty high. That's why you'll notice that it's fairly red in the bottom left, close to the zero, and that is where you see all these candidates like propane, and isobutane, and gasoline, all of them congregated. Over on the far right you'll notice that we have the blend – the refrigerant 1234 YF and some of the blends thereof that'll all be somewhere in the top right. Basically, this shows you the kind of difference that you're gonna have between the AC category and the A2L category because remember, as I said, 1234 YF and all those refrigerants are gonna be classified as A2L.
On the bottom right chart on the y-axis it shows you the amount of energy that it's believed when combustion actually happens, and then on the y-axis it shows the amount of energy released due to combustion, and then on the x-axis it shows you how fast the flame actually propagates. So, the faster the flame propagation, the more the energy that is released, then the greater the effect of the flame that occurs, and therefore, the top right is now very red in color, and that is where you'll see propane, methane, and all those other candidates. And, again, bottom left is where you'll see all the 2L classified refrigerants. Of course, technically, then A1 candidate which are HFCs wouldn't even find their place on these charts. This is just to give you an idea and give you some perspective on how these different refrigerants are because, obviously, safety is one of the most important things when it comes to propane, and we'll talk about that as well. Let's go to the next chart, please.
So, Collin mentioned natural brand, and this is really the start of all the interest, and if you notice on the bottom left it says the refrigerant charge size is in retail food refrigeration which is, sort of, interest to us. It's about 150 grams, and then on the right-hand side it says the lifting of some of the use conditions and recommendations, Collin quoted those in piping, labeling, unique things propane to be sold in quantities of – not sold in quantities less than 5 pounds, and handling by trained personnel only. You can read all these things, but these are not meant to be a comprehensive thing because you'll notice that it still talks about UL Standard 431. On the next page, actually, I have a few more – a listing of standards. Let's go to the next chart, please.
This is actually a list that I obtained from UL, courtesy of Brian Rogers, and it actually shows you all the different UL standards that are currently available for chemical refrigerants used, starting with UL 250, UL 471, which is the one that is of interest to a lot of people here. Plus the 60335 and so on and so forth, you can read this list as well. All of these documents, of course, are available, and definitely, the people that are designing propane equipment should be very familiar with all these standards and make sure that they follow all the requirements that are listed in here. Let's go to the next chart, please.
Let's talk about propane. What kind of refrigerant is propane? And for the next two or four charts, I'll talk a little bit about the refrigerant itself. The first thing is, you know, is this the typical propane that you find? No, it's not. The bulk of the propane is purity of greater than 9 – 9-1/2 percent by weight, and you can see some of the chemical properties on the right. Just use that for reference. Then let's go to the next chart.
If you look at the pressures and temperatures, what you see here on the Y – along the vertical is saturated temperature. For example, at around -25 which is the fourth blue row, you'll notice that the first one is 404a which is around 12.9 pounds, and then propane is around 8.1 pounds, and then if you start going up to around 20 degrees saturated you'll notice that vertical pressures are also 55 for 404a, 43 for R22, and about 41psig for propane. And if you look at some condensing temperatures like 90 degrees, you'll notice that propane, particularly, tends to be lower pressure compared to the other refrigerants, and then of course at 120 and so on, it's lower pressures. So, bottom line is that propane tends to run approximately the same suction pressure as R22, but slightly less head pressure when compared to R22. Let's go to the next chart, please.
On this chart here, I listed refrigerant as well as the density of the refrigerant, the liquid refrigerant, at a typical condensing condition. The point about this chart is to show what I've circled there is roughly around 0.5. What is says is if you look at the liquid density, propane is around 457 kilograms, and 404a is about 955 which means that propane density, liquid density, is roughly around half of that of 404a, which means that in a typical refrigeration system, you should expect a propane charge to be roughly around half of whatever it is that your 404a would be. That's just a rule of thumb, but – so if you've got a refrigeration system at about 100 grams of 404a, then an equivalent propane system would have around 48 grams of propane in it, and of course, you have to keep in mind that you're limited behind 50 grams.
So, we saw the pressures, how they compare, and then we're looking at the liquid density and how it compares, and understanding a little bit about how the charge is likely to be, and by the way, because of this 150 grams can actually yield a fairly good size business. So, the equivalent 404a system would probably be around 300 grams. That's just a rule of thumb, if you will. Let's go to the next chart.
Now, in this I've got a little bit more information. On the top of that table is a median temperature 20 degree F, and you'll notice that I have suction gas density at the saturated condition of 20 degrees, and you'll notice that propane is about 0.53, whereas 404a is 1.53. That means that 404a is a lot more dense gas than propane. So, for an even displacement of compressor, you'll be pumping a whole lot more 404a than you would propane. Don't even look at the heat or vaporization evaporator; you'll notice that propane is a lot more. It's about more than two times than of 404a. So, when you look at the evaporative capacity, the product of these two density and evaporator, and now it looks like propane is about 75 percent of 404a. So, even though for the same displacement of compressor you would be pumping a lot less propane, that propane does take a lot of energy out of the evaporator in evaporation, and therefore, it is really not as adverse of an effect as you would expect.
So, in median temperature, you'll notice that propane is about 77 percent in terms of its capacity of 404a, and in low temps it's also roughly about the same, but in reality, so what you're seeing here is it's about a 20 percent gap. So, for the same displacement compressor, I surely have to see propane to have around 20 percent less capacity than a 404a system. So, what happens is propane also has very good heat transferability, much better heat transfer properties than 404a. Therefore, propane tends to run a little bit higher suction, and perhaps, even a little bit lower discharge. The net effect being that you're actually – if you're having a 20 percent shortfall in capacity for the same displacement, you'll have a lot less shortfall than 20 percent. It's more like 5 or 10 percent, and we'll see that in just a moment. Let's go to the next chart, please.
Now, we've looked at the capacity. You know, we've looked at pressure. We've looked at liquid density and charge. We've looked at capacity. Now, let's look at what the purest efficiency compressor. If you just look at the compressor word, you'll notice that our analysis says that propane could be roughly around 8 – 10 percent better than 404a when it comes to the efficiency in the compressor, and we'll see how all of these things that we expect from theory, how they all roll into real practice in just a little bit. Let's go to the next chart, please.
So, if I were to summarize all of this, I would say that, you know, if you were to compare propane and 404a in a typical load capacitation, you should expect propane to run lower suction and discharge pressure than 404a, and propane systems with the same displacement compressor, as I said, instead of 20 percent less capacity, you'd expect it to be more like 5 or 10 percent less capacity because of better heat transfer and so on, and then this also translates to less heat rejection and less compressor power, and so on and so forth, which is what it summarizes. Now, the lower pressures and the lower rates, this has to be considered when you're doing this metering of the expansion valve, and aptitude, and so on. But the selection of the compressor, the selection of the expansion valve, and so on and so forth, become important when it comes to this because of the different pressures, and flow rates, et cetera. Let's go to the next chart.
This is an actual back-to-back – we took an equipment that had 404a in it. It was not optimized for 404a. The charge was not optimized. We basically took whatever charge it came with, and our goal was to try and put a propane compressor in it and see how it performed, and when we did that, we found that the propane compressor – we wanted to put the same displacement compressor, and we did that; we found that it had about 60 percent less capacity compared to a 404a, but the charge was much lower. Instead of 15 ounces, of course, we optimized it down to 5 ounces of propane. We did find that the fall down was pretty good, and the bottom out temperature was about the same, and overall, we ended up with less power consumption as well.
So, this is a good story, and you'll notice there that the suction, saturated suction, was running a little bit better with propane than it was with 404a so -32 as opposed to -35 which is where a lot of the energy savings came from. So, that basically tells you that, you know, you could design a good refrigeration system. I believe this was, like, a self-contained case, maybe a two-door or a three-door case is what we had, and you can see that the charge was fairly low. Performance is good, and definitely better than 404a. Let's go to the next chart.
So, you know, again, I show this chart simply because I want to show you again that when you're looking at propane versus 404a, you will be more than likely upsizing the compressor because a 404a system and a 404a compressor does have a little bit more capacity, and you can see that difference, and of course, every compressor manufacturer will be able to provide the equipment manufacturing data that shows how these two compressors fall. Let's go to the next chart, please.
I show some additional propane information. In addition to the 431, there's a lot of other websites, the EPA's own website, plus a couple of other documents that area available from Europe that are also good sources of information on propane. Go to the next chart, please. Which brings us towards the end of my session, and you know, I basically have pulled together here – you know, we saw that propane is – you know, why we're all interested in propane. How does propane behave better than 404a, and I showed you some actual system test data that shows that propane was actually behaving very well compared to 404a.
Now, having said all that, and then I think we also – you know, at least you have an overview of some of the guidelines that are available for safety and so on, but here I've put down, you know, that the safe use of hydrocarbon-containing equipment is really everyone's responsibility, and if you look at that, you know, and you look at this from the manufacturer point of view, it is important that they design these things, take into account all the standards, and the user, by the way, has to ensure that the manufacturer is providing them a piece of equipment that has been designed safely. As an end user, I would urge you to ask all those questions, and as a manufacturer, safe manufacturing is very important because there has to be changes made to the production line. There has to be some changes made to how propane is handled in your plants and so on and so forth. All of these things are things that you would do for any refrigerant, but definitely, with propane would be even more important. Now, of course, as an end user, you certainly would want to speak to a reputable manufacturer because you want to make sure that it was being built right for you.
The instructions that come with it and associated documentation are extremely important in providing installation training, providing service training. Some of the better manufacturers will certainly do all of that for you, and they will give you good aftermarket support as well and let you know how to get rid of the equipment at the end of life, and by the same token, as the end user, you have to make sure that you've got trained, onsite personnel and service personnel, and you do maintain the equipment, and you treat the equipment carefully and not as just another piece of hardware because it does involve some responsibility because of its flammable nature, and then at the end of life, of course, you want to make sure that you dispose of the unit as per instructions.
Now, I believe this is about the end of my presentation. Again, these are just suggestions, and you all know how to get a hold of me. Next chart – and of course, let me also say these are just what we, Emerson, feel are some of the things that you've gotta look at, and it's by no means meant to be comprehensive and a complete list of all the things that you need to know and take care of when you start designing or using equipment that uses propane. So, with that, let me turn it over back to Collin.
All right. Thank you very much for your presentation. At this time, we'd like to open it up to anyone on the line who has any questions for Rajan.
Yeah, I'd like to see if a question here. How would you describe the general availability of compressors suitable for propane currently?
As far as I know, there are at least three or four, maybe even more. I can name four companies, compressor companies, that offer propane compressors, and of course, Emerson's gonna be one of them. These are in the smaller sizes, you know, up to 150 grams. I'm not talking about large sizes at all. These are the small, hermetic compressors. They are available, and I think the reason why you're probably not seeing a whole lot of volume on that in the United States is because we haven't had SNAP approval, and we don't have much experience with propane, and the equipment manufacturers have been sampling these compressors from various compressor manufacturers, and they've been working on them in designing equipment and so on. So, I think if the interest is there, you'll start seeing more and more of these out there.
Any additional questions?
I've got a question which maybe is better addressed to the next speaker but in case Rajan has some answers, I wonder if you have feel for the prevalence of these systems in the United States, that is, self-contained refrigerators using propane. Are we talking about thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands in the field, hundreds in the field?
Yeah, I think you're right. I think we will let Todd address that question as well, but I can tell you that it is definitely not in the thousands. My estimate would be that it's probably in the hundreds, if at all, and you know, as you well know, Ben & Jerry's has been shipping propane equipment for quite some time that are used for cooling the ice cream. Anything else beyond that, I think is in the field testing stage is what I would say, but certainly Todd can talk more to that. Now, that is in the United States. If you go outside the United States, if you go to Europe, you certainly have a lot more – you know, you're talking probably in the thousands in terms of commercial equipment, and of course, in Europe in residential applications, they've had propane for a very long time.
Yeah, this is Todd Washburn with True Manufacturing. That's a good question. I do think – you know, we, as True, and a lot of other manufacturers have received, kind of, a field test approval to test hydrocarbon in the US market. So, there are, I would say, a thousand-plus units in the US market under the approval of the EPA. So, we've been able to get a lot of good field testing and results from those tests, both from freezers and refrigeration.
And thank you both for your responses. Are there any other questions from attendees for Rajan at this time?
Hi. Sorry, this is Keeley. I just was hoping that someone is actually documenting, maybe in a case study or something like that, the energy savings because we, in general, we have a problem, especially in the supermarket industry, that new things don't really take off until, you know, someone is kind of able to document the statistics on the performance, and I was just wondering if there was any effort to collect data from the various people that are trying these propane self-contained units and maybe come out with a case study or a fact sheet.
Yeah, this is Todd, again, with True. I think I can address some of your questions with my presentation, towards the end of the presentation. If I haven't, then you can definitely ask again, and I'll try to address it.
All right, excellent. Are there any more questions for Rajan at this time?
All right. Well, we appreciate your time in presenting, Rajan. Next, we'll move on to Todd from True Manufacturing, who is going to give his presentation on 290. So, thank you, Todd, for being with us today, and we'll let you get started.
Great. Thanks, again, Collin, and thank you, everyone, for giving True the opportunity to address this group. I'm sitting actually here with Charlie Hahn who's our lead for Regulation in our environmental group. So, we're gonna kinda co-lead this. If someone else answers your question and it's not my voice, it's Charlie. So, just to give you a perspective of, kind of, what we put together, first of all, I'd like to thank Rajan because he went through a lot of detail that I don't have to go through now. So, I'm gonna try to be crisp and clean with this presentation, but a lot of what he talked about in his presentation definitely falls within where we were going and the results that we have. So, thanks for that, Rajan, even though we didn't collaborate upfront. Could you go to the next slide, please?
First, I'd like to talk to you about, you know, global warming is everyone's concern. We know that as a company. Our sustainability efforts, as well as our retail and customer base, this is a big deal. We know and we've seen other countries put taxes on refrigerants with high GWPs. We know that's gonna be coming probably in this market as well, certainly in Europe, so that's always something to consider. You know, you can see the GWP listings there for the 134a and 404a, and then R290 is listed as a three, so it's a significant drop in the global warming potential as we move to maybe a taxed situation. It's a naturally occurring refrigerant, as Rajan mentioned, zero ozone depletion potential. Next slide, please.
You know, hydrocarbons may be new to the US market, but they're certainly not new to the world. We're just getting into it a little bit later than everyone else. You know, Europe, Asia, South America have been using hydrocarbons to some degree, 70-plus million units in the field, more than 20 years of experience. A lot of that is R600a isobutane, but certainly, there's a share of R290 propane. So, from a manufacturing point of view, you know, a lot of the technology, a lot of the processes have already been determined. They have some age to them, and they've been refined. So, we're just to the point where, you know, what we're doing in Europe and other countries is now following into the US market, and a lot of that kinda goes hand in hand. Next slide, please.
We haven't really been able to go fully into the US market, other than the field testing that I mentioned before, until the SNAP approval had hit which happened February 21st, 2012. After that point, we knew that we could start looking into the 60 hertz, if you will, for the US market, and that's primarily why I think we're talking today is because now these units are available for this market. As Rajan said, R290 propane has a limit of 5.3 ounces or 150 grams, and the R600a isobutane is at 57 grams, just over 2 ounces. Next slide, please, Collin.
So, how did we get to the SNAP approval? Well, it took a few suppliers and some manufacturers to lead the strike. GE and a company called A&S Trust and Holdings submitted separate requests to the SNAP program for 600a and R441a which is a blend for the residential market, and Ben and Jerry's with Unilever and True Manufacturing led the strike for the SNAP program approval for R290. All four submittals were combined into a final approval. So, you know, we saw it coming. We knew that it was the right thing to do for refrigeration, and this was kinda the final approval for us to start moving into this market. Next, please.
Now, with the approval came some conditions and some of that was hit on in the previous presentation, but again, the 150 gram limit. You can only use this on new equipment only. It's not a retrofittable refrigerant. Special marking and labeling is required. All commercial equipment must meet UL 471, and to include the flammable refrigerants piece as well. Next slide, please.
More conditions, multiple refrigeration systems can be used on the same unit, and what that means is if you're restricted by 150 grams on a certain unit, you could use two isolated units to double the capacity and get into larger models. Both systems run independently of each other; they're not combined. We must color the process tubes for the refrigeration a red color which is, kind of, a flag for servicing to say this refrigerant's different than 134a or 44a. Reclaiming regulation is under review. Currently, you must reclaim R290 and 600a, but that is in review right now to see if that can be opened up. Specialized training is recommended for service agents. There are companies out there like RSCS that have already started their training programs under hydrocarbon, so that's in place. Next slide.
Reasons to consider R290 as a refrigerant – from a commercial manufacturing point of view, the 10 percent efficiency is a big gain, and you heard Rajan talk about the same thing. You know, when we have Energy Star Department of Energy regulations that we must hit, a 10 percent gain is a great gain to get, both from our point of view, as well as, you know, the retailer and our customer. So, that's a big driver in our eyes. The 50 percent smaller charge size, again, that goes back to the indirect and direct kiwi piece that Rajan talked about for the global warming piece, in directing the carbon footprint for the electrical usage and directing if you would release a charge into the atmosphere so that reducing that charge is a big gain, and you'll see in some later slides what that means. It contains no fluorine and chlorine, and a short atmospheric life of about two weeks.
This slide shows an example of one of our glass-door merchandisers. I chose this example because this cabinet I have some very solid comparisons between 134a where the componentry, the motors, everything in that cabinet from the 134a to the R290 is really the same, other than the refrigerant charge and the compressor. On this particular unit, we saw a 17 percent efficiency gain from the 134a moving to the R290. This put us at 43 percent below the Energy Star number and at only 1.9 ounces. The chart below shows the bare minimum, which would be the Department of Energy number, at 4.44 kilowatt hours a day. You can see the Energy Star standard. To meet that, you have to be below 2.45. This redesigned cabinet and R134a optimizes 1.68. In the same cabinet with a drop-in, if you will, refrigerant drops it to 1.39 kilowatt hours a day, which I need to mention that that's less than a 60-watt light bulb. So, it's a very impressive number for a commercial, glass-door merchandiser like that.
Below that, you'll see percent reductions based on DOE, as well as the utility number compared to DOE. So, if a retailer bought, you know, a cabinet at 4.44 just at DOE and went to an Energy Star cabinet, just meeting Energy Star would be 45 percent below that, saving $73.00, and then so on, 62 percent at $101.00, and then 69 percent below DOE saving $112.00. So, there's both a story for commercial refrigeration manufacturers, as well as our customers on moving towards more efficient and better for the environment refrigerants. Next slide, Collin.
So, we took this example and blew it out into, kind of, a real-world maybe major account or retail account. We made some assumptions here, but if you took an account with ten-plus glass-door merchandisers at the cash register in the front of the retail account, and say they had about 800 accounts with a total assumption of 8,000 coolers for these GDM tens. You're looking at a savings of kilowatt hours of 8.9 million kilowatt hours in a year, which at $0.10 per kilowatt hour looks to be just shy of $900,000.00 in savings in utilities. These numbers add up when you look at a retailer with multiple placements of these types of equipment.
If you go to the next slide, you'll see what does that mean from an environmental piece from a direct and indirect component? If you run the math on this for the kilowatt hours you're saving, for the direct, you're at 2500 metric tons of CO2 equivalence just for the refrigerant. That, again, is assuming that if you vented this refrigerant compared to 134a, and just under 6500 metric tons of CO2 from electricity, and that's converting the kilowatt hours consumed compared to if you just met the minimum DOE requirements, that would be your savings, and then just to put it in perspective, converted into automobiles off the road per year.
So, hydrocarbons to us, you know, we're very familiar with hydrocarbons with our European business and global business. We're comfortable with the technology. Of course, we take all of the safety precautions and design for the UL 471, as well as beyond. We feel it's a great story for both us and our retail customers, and a right move for the environment. So, generally speaking, True is fully on board with hydrocarbon. We've got 15-plus models already approved for sale in the US market, and we've got another, I'd say, 15 – 20 right on the cusp of being launched as well. So, we're growing our platform in this area.
We see – we get a lot of questions on how big of a cabinet can you do with R290? Its 150 grams. We've seen – really we can get up to double-door freezers, staying below that 150 grams, and then with the ability to use multiple systems, we feel we can go beyond that into triple doors, and we're seeing great with freezers as well. That sums up, kind of, the perspective from True Manufacturing, kind of, where we are and where we're going. Collin, I'll put it back over to you.
Thanks, Todd, we appreciate it. So, does anyone on the line have any questions for Todd or Charlie?
I have a question which could be probably to both Todd, as well as Rajan. Could you talk a little bit about the design changes that are required, both in the compressor and in the cooler, or are there different fan motors required, different compressor motors required, other design changes to address safety concerns?
Go ahead, Todd.
I can discuss – I'll let Rajan talk about the compressor technology, but from a component level inside the equipment, you know, the working components like motors, et cetera, and the controls have to be ATEX approved which is non-explosive. So, they are designed for no sparking, as well as the life. So, those are the only components that are any different than what you see in 134a. You know, the coils are relatively the same, other than size, maybe. When you get into the compressor, I'll let Rajan speak to that.
Yeah, the compressor, there are quite a few changes in the motor, the motor protector, and how the connections are made, et cetera, et cetera, and of course, you know, once you start talking about different refrigerants, we always have to optimize each of these compressors, and the valving, and so on for each refrigerant. So, that involves some mechanical design changes as well. So, yes, the answer is from an electrical point of view, safety point of view, motor point of view, and some of the mechanical components, it does involve design changes, and these are different compressors than what you would find for 404a and 134a so…
Thank you, both. Any other questions from attendees?
I have a question for Todd. Have you had any significant changes in heat exchanger size for propane, compared to 134a?
I'm sorry; I didn't pick up the first part of that question.
Yes, it's a question related to heat exchanger. Do you guys see any size change, I mean, in terms of increase or decrease when you switch from 134a to propane?
Yes, typically, you see a decrease in the coil size going from 134a to R290.
Can you explain it a little bit more because in the previous presentation, the density of propane is less compared to 134a, although the rate of heat transfer, the rate population more.
Yeah, what we see with the R290 designs is we can go to a smaller diameter coil, which also helps us minimize the charge. So, with the flow rates of R290 in the smaller diameter of coils, we can get capacities that we couldn't get with 134a or 404. So, not only do we get capacities with smaller coils, we also get smaller charges.
This is Rajan and I – sorry, Todd, go ahead, finish up.
No, go ahead, Rajan.
No, I was gonna say to the gentleman that asked the question, you were showing data comparing 134a to propane, whereas I was showing data comparing 404a to propane.
Yeah, but there are charts showing the densities of different refrigerants.
Right, right. Yeah, but all of my statements were all related to 404a. So, I think, Todd, I think you answered his question.
Any other questions from the audience and the attendees?
One other question about propane – sorry, someone else was about to go, go ahead.
No, no. I was just about to close it out so go ahead, please.
Okay. So, the propane used here is not barbeque-grade propane. Is there a significant cost advantage still with the propane versus the HFC refrigerants?
This is Charlie Hahn. The propane is slightly higher than 134a at this time but less than 404a at this time, and we perceive that the market itself will drive it because there's limited production right now for very high level, high-purity propane. The thing we have to watch is water content, of course, but at this time, the cost per pound is higher than 134a but lower than 404a, but you've gotta remember that we only put half as much in. So, it's actually a slight cost reduction in a unit.
One last call for questions from the attendees. All right. Well, we'd like to thank all of our presenters for your time and effort putting together your presentations today and joining us. It's been informative and comprehensive, and on behalf of the CBA Retailer Alliance, we certainly appreciate it. For this one little bit to finish up, any ideas for future webinars from the members of the community would be absolutely appreciated. You can send those to me, Collin.Weber@Navigant.com, or to Bill or any of the other team members, and thank you, again, for your time and participation. We appreciate it.
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