Danfoss webinar shows industry is looking towards naturals in wake of EPA SNAP HFC delistings

By Robert Davidson, Aug 14, 2015, 12:43 3 minute reading

On 13 August Danfoss held an interactive webinar on the role of natural refrigerants in the wake of the delisting of several high-GWP HFCs by the U.S. EPA, with a particular focus on hydrocarbons and CO2.

The purpose of the webinar was to inform those listening of the workings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme, as well as gauging the level of understanding in the industry and their preparedness for upcoming regulatory changes in the United States. This was achieved through interactive polling throughout the webinar, as well as a Q&A session at the end of the webinar with questions answered by Menzer and his colleagues at Danfoss.

Why a phasedown?

The first half of the webinar attempted to elucidate attendees on the background reasoning for the recent U.S. EPA SNAP delistings and approvals. As part of the interactive experience, prior to the explanations, Menzer asked respondents to rate their understanding of EPA SNAP Rule 20 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very familiar, 1 being unaware) with ta wide range of answers with some indicating 5, but many indicating 2.

To improve understanding, Menzer detailed the buzzwords that are driving the transition, such as global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depleting potential (ODP). Noting that in the phase out of CFCs, which are ozone-depleting substances, HFCs were phased in, though they still have high GWP, and are negatively affecting the planet and contributing to climate change.

Menzer clarifies, it is the EPA’s decision to move away from these substances, noting that for instance R404A has a GWP of 3992 compared to hydrocarbons which have a GWP of 4 and CO2 which has a GWP of <1. In addition to this, Menzer went through the legislative terms that the EPA routinely utilises as well as outlining their decision-making process.

Natural refrigerants as a key alternative in the wake of the delisting

Menzer detailed the EPA’s recent acceptances and delistings in 2014 and 2015, noting the growing role for natural refrigerants in the United States, especially the use of CO2 and hydrocarbons in light commercial and commercial refrigeration applications. However, while naturals are introduced as clear substitutes which could ease the transition, when the audience was asked about the number one concern regarding implementation of the delisting, 36% voted ‘costs’ as the number one concern, followed by lack of resources (24%) with timing (20%) next, other (12%) and lab availability for testing the least concerning with 8%.

Menzer detailed supermarkets and the different systems that are affected by the recent SNAP delisting, explaining the different roles and rulings for centralised units, condensing units and stand-alone equipment, clearing up the confusion that remains for end users and manufacturers. After explaining these differences, the attendees were asked ‘which refrigerant alternatives [can choose more than one] are you considering’ with regards to all applications, with 63% of respondents noting that they were considering hydrocarbons and 11.1% considering CO2.

Questions remain regarding hydrocarbons role

In the Q&A section of Danfoss’ webinar, the role of hydrocarbons was a key talking point. After Menzer explained that currently, commercial ice machines, ice cream machines and drinks dispensers are not SNAP approved for the use of hydrocarbons, there was discussion on whether this would occur soon, with the general answer being ‘sooner rather than later’. The discussion quickly shifted to whether the hydrocarbon charge limit should be moved up from 150g to 300g, with Jeff Staub, Danfoss’ Application Manager, clarifying:

“It is something that will absolutely occur. It is not that there is a restriction above 150g, it is per application. It is mostly for self-contained refrigeration units when the 150g limit comes into play… Above 150g, the EPA will look to the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or other safety agencies to perform testing and look at industry tests to ask if it safe to go beyond there [150g]. If the UL agrees for a given application, then I would be willing to bet that the EPA would accept larger charges for A3 refrigerants.”

This clarified the position of charge limit restrictions, showing that there is a great opportunity for hydrocarbons to be used effectively in a larger amount of applications, following the global trend that is emerging for a higher charge limit.


By Robert Davidson

Aug 14, 2015, 12:43

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