ATMOsphere 2011-End Users Panel reveals mixed picture for hydrocarbons

ATMOsphere 2011-End Users Panel reveals mixed picture for hydrocarbons

At the ATMOsphere Europe 2011 international workshop a mixed picture emerged for hydrocarbons from the two end-user panels, which included presentations from M&S, who have installed several hybrid hydrocarbon and CO2 refrigeration systems, and Unilever, which have invested in hydrocarbon freezer cabinets. Coca-Cola on the other hand has opted for CO2, after trialling both R744 and hydrocarbon cooling equipment.

The ATMOsphere End-User Panels ended with a lively discussion regarding the use of flammable refrigerants like hydrocarbons, whose use is forbidden in supermarkets and other public buildings in France but which have been selected in plug-in cabinets and freezers by other end-users, like Unilever.

Marks and Spencer PLAN A and experiences with alternative refrigerants, Robert Arthur, Refrigeration Technologist

M&S is investing in the building of two “learning stores” every year, where different technologies, including natural refrigerants are evaluated. The learning stores are part of the M&S Plan A strategy, adopted in 2007, which includes 180 sustainability commitments to be achieved by 2015. As part of Plan A M&S has committed to progressively reduce total refrigeration greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2015, and remove HFC refrigerants from refrigeration and air conditioning systems by 2030.
In April 2011 the Ecclesall Road Sustainable Learning Store was opened. The store’s refrigeration system is composed of a hybrid CO2 pump distribution system, cooled by a primary hydrocarbon system.

“Working with one of the accreditation agencies involved in the petrochemical industry we have now reached a point where the package has met all of the dictates required for the safe application of the equipment. That equipment can now be used in any built environment,” said Mr Arthur.

To conclude his presentation Mr Arthur focused on the importance of addressing the issue of leakage and the importance of collaboration, saying, “if there is no collaboration it is going to be a very painful transition into adopting this new technology.”

Sustainable Living Plan & Natural Refrigerants, Thomas Lingard, Global Advocacy Director, Unilever

Mr Lingard began his presentation by providing an overview of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which sets out how the company aims to double its size whilst reducing its environmental impact. The company has extended the scope of its responsibility up and down the supply chain and has set its self three key goals to be achieved by 2020, including halving the environmental footprint of products.

As part of Unilever’s ambition to reduce the GHG emissions from refrigeration, in 2003 the company undertook is first large scale trial of hydrocarbon freezer cabinets in Denmark. This was followed in 2008 by the testing of 50 hydrocarbons cabinets in the US. By the end of 2011 Unilever will have rolled-out 800,000 cabinets, and by 2015 Unilever aims to have 1.3 million hydrocarbon cabinets. To continue the roll-out of hydrocarbons cabinets in the US Unilever and are now waiting for the EPA Significant New Alternatives (SNAP) ruling.

Mr Lingard presented the latest generation of hydrocarbon cabinets, which have 30% extra energy efficiency compared with the older cabinets, achieved thanks to state of the art compressors, high efficiency fans and LEDs.

This year Unilever became the chair of “Refrigerants Naturally!”. Speaking about the industry initiative Mr Lingard said, “we are really serious about the agenda, and we are moving only in that [HFC free] direction. I would echo Antoine’s [Azar] points about our understanding of what HFC-free means – we are not interested in HFOs. We have taken a policy decision on natural refrigerants and that is crystal clear.”

Sustainable Refrigeration, Antoine Azar, Global Program Manager, The Coca-Cola Company

By the end of 2011, the Coca-Cola Company will exceed 420,000 HFC-free units using both CO2 and hydrocarbons placed globally, with no equipment failures to date. In total, the company has over 12 million vending machines, coolers and drinks dispensers around the world and purchases around 1 million of these every year.
With cooling equipment 43% of the company’s carbon footprint in 2009 the CEO of Coca-Cola made a commitment to purchase only HFC-free cooling equipment by 2015 and thereby reduce the environmental impact of cooling. Mr Azar made clear that the Coca-Cola Company “consider[s] HFO to be an HFC, so HFO is not considered.” After trialling both hydrocarbons and CO2, in 2011 CO2technology was selected as the preferred option.

Referring to key challenges facing natural refrigerants in his concluding remarks Mr Azar said, “Governments need to draw a line in the ground and say ‘by this date no more HFCs’. If we don’t have this, nobody will move. Nobody will put millions on the table just for voluntary agreements”.

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