Nearly 14,000 US Supermarket Locations are NASRC members

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The North America Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) is excited to announce that our  end-user membership now encompasses nearly 14,000 supermarkets. 

“The growth of this organization has been amazing,” says Keilly Witman, owner of KW Refrigerant Management Strategy and former head of the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership. “Supermarket end-users are excited, because the NASRC gets things done. After years of all talk and no action about the hurdles that stand in the way of natural refrigerants in this industry, we finally have an organization that flips it around - it’s all about action.”

Most of the NASRC’s efforts focus on overcoming hurdles in three areas: service contractors and technicians, cost, and codes and standards.

The main programs that address hurdles related to service contractors and technicians focus on matching end-users with trained, experienced service contractors, ensuring clear communication between end-users and contractors who are working on their first all-natural refrigerant store, and collaborating with traditional service technician training organizations to ensure that technicians have the training they need to successfully install and manage an all-natural store. 

The NASRC’s Natural Refrigerants Service Network, for instance, is an online tool that allows refrigeration service contractors to provide information about their natural refrigerant experience, along with the areas where they do business. End-users can join the online network and mine that data by geographic location and the natural refrigerant they are looking to use.

“The NASRC has just begun to make the most out of this tool; the ideas are endless,” says Bryan Beitler of Source Refrigeration. “Just the webinar the NASRC held for service technicians explaining the new requirements of the Section 608 amendments made it worthwhile to participate.”

The NASRC’s Return on Investment Progress Group is working to overcome the causes that tend to cause natural refrigerants to cost more than traditional centralized DX systems.

“There are big cost hurdles, like economies of scale, and there are smaller cost hurdles, like the lack of distributors that carry refrigerant-grade CO2,” says Mike Ellinger of Whole Foods Market. “The distributor problem sounds like its a small thing, but it costs money, and those costs build up over time, if you don’t have a solution for it.” 

In response, the NASRC has begun cooperating with HARDI, the trade association for HVACR distributors, to bring traditional distributors into the natural refrigerant supply chain. According to NASRC Executive, Director Danielle Wright, the NASRC and HARDI will work to find a distributor in any area of the country where an end user wants to open a natural refrigerant store. 

The codes and standards hurdle may be the toughest nut to crack, says Wright. “The organizations that write standards for supermarket refrigeration may not be aware of how urgent it is to get standards in place.” She cites the fact that California plans to require supermarkets to use refrigerants with a GWP less than 150 in just a few years.

“We are eager to work with ASHRAE and UL and discuss how to get these standards done, but they have few people on their committees who come from the refrigeration world, much less from the natural refrigerant world.”

“Is it any wonder that supermarket end-users are flocking to this organization,” says Witman, “given its track record in under three years of going to bat for supermarkets?” 

“We don’t really have to recruit supermarket end-users,” reports Wright. “They come to us, because they’ve heard about the progress we’ve already made in all of the areas that have prevented them from moving forward with naturals in the past. No problem is too small, or too big, for us to tackle.”

IEC Releases Draft Proposal for Increased Charge Limit for Flammable Refrigerants

Last month, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released their draft proposal to raise the maximum charge size for flammable refrigerants in commercial self-contained cases from 150 grams to 500 grams. This marks another significant step forward for the NASRC's work to change standards to increase the maximum charge limit for R290 use in self-contained equipment, one of the goals of the Codes & Standards progress group.

Why Does a Higher Charge Limit Matter?

According to Marek Zgliczynski, Chair of the IEC subcommittee responsible for developing the proposal, this standard, known as IEC60335-2-89, "is the basis for all regional and national product standards for household or similar commercial-type applications.” The proposed change will "increase the maximum allowable charge of flammable refrigerants in [commercial self-contained display cases], while maintaining the same safety level of the present standard with 150 grams," explains Zgliczynski.

The current charge limit of 150 grams is severely limiting the use of propane self-contained systems in the US. While 150 grams of propane is adequate for small-to-medium-sized display cases, the larger display cases that are prevalent in this country need more propane for cost-effective operation

The main concerns about higher propane charge sizes relate to safety, as is to be expected with an A3 refrigerant. The specific requirements in the IEC’s proposal ensure that cases with 500 grams of propane are as safe as those with 150 grams. These requirements include the following:

  • The refrigerant circuit must be hermetically sealed and mechanically protected;
  • Construction cannot cause excessive vibrations of circuit piping;
  • Airflow is required to avoid flammable concentration beyond the boundary of appliance, certified with a special leak test; and
  • Appliance must be installed in a room with a floor area not less than the marked minimum room area.

 What’s Next? 

The proposal has to pass two stages of voting, the first of which will close mid-July. The IEC is accepting comments from stakeholders at http://www.iec.ch/comment/ until that time. The NASRC will provide instructions to members on how to submit comments and template language that members may use to express support for the IEC proposal.

If the draft proposal receives a two-thirds majority in the first vote, it will move to the second and final stage of voting. If the proposal passes the final stage, a new edition of IEC60335-2-89 will be published in early 2019.

Zgliczynski noted that, "this new standard will allow for systems manufacturers to comply with present and future regulations phasing out high-GWP refrigerants globally in this specific market segment."

As state and federal governments ban or phase down high-GWP HFC and HFO-blend refrigerants, commercial refrigerant end-users will need access to technologies that use refrigerants with GWPs below 150. Propane self-contained systems show great potential to meet much of that need. The main hurdle preventing the widespread use of this technology in the US is the slow pace of ASHRAE and UL in revising their standards. The IEC proposal, if passed, is the stimulus that the US standards organizations need to get them moving in the right direction. To encourage ASHRAE and UL to work with the NASRC to speed up their timelines, sign the NASRC petition for faster revision of codes and standards.

NASRC Call to Action 

The NASRC is calling on industry stakeholders to contribute to this initiative with the following activities:

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  • Submit comments in support of the draft IEC proposal.
  • Sign the NASRC petition for the expedited revision of existing codes and standards for low-GWP refrigerants in commercial refrigeration.  

 

NASRC and IIAR Partner on New Commercial Track at IIAR Annual Conference

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NASRC is excited to announce a partnership with the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) to launch a new commercial refrigeration track at the 2019 IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference and Expo.

We have heard feedback that the commercial refrigeration industry needs a forum for discussion of both the progress and challenges around natural refrigerants in the commercial sector.

IIAR is widely recognized for bringing the industrial industry together to provide education, advocacy, and technical information regarding natural refrigerants. Their longstanding expertise of ammonia in industrial applications has recently expanded to include other natural refrigerants.

NASRC is uniquely positioned to help IIAR develop a forum for commercial refrigeration stakeholders to discuss, learn, and advocate for natural refrigerants at a technical level. This track is a great opportunity to advance the discussion and application of natural refrigerants in the commercial sector. 

Contribute to the Discussion: Submit Your Abstracts Today!

Get involved in this new track and gain industry recognition for your organization by submitting an abstract for a technical paper, workshop, panel, or other program element. Abstracts should relate to the use of CO2, ammonia, and hydrocarbon refrigerants in food retail stores. All technical papers are peer reviewed, professionally edited, published, and distributed to IIAR Conference attendees. 

Abstract applications are due by June 13th, and the first draft of papers are due by September 1st, 2018. Contact us at info@nasrc.org for further details. 

NASRC Workshop Maps the Future of Refrigerant Options

The NASRC hosted a natural refrigerant workshop in Boise, Idaho on May 3rd, which sought to map the future and trends of various refrigerant options for refrigeration end-users. The event was attended by roughly sixty people from the commercial refrigeration industry including contractors, end-users, manufacturers, utilities, universities, nonprofits, and engineering firms. The workshop was sponsored by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Kysor Warren, DC Engineering, and Danfoss

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Keilly Witman of KW Refrigerant Management Strategy set the stage for the workshop with an overview of the "mega-trends" impacting commercial refrigerant options, which were mapped on paper walls around the room. Attendees were invited to contribute to the trend-mapping throughout the day by adding questions, comments, or takeaways from presenters.

For the remainder of the workshop, attendees heard about their equipment options and how the mega-trends will impact their adoption. Presenters included:

  • Rusty Walker of Hillphoenix, who spoke about CO2 transcritical systems
  • Randy Fernandez and Ignacio Chaparro of Kysor Warren, who spoke about ammonia systems
  • Glenn Barrett of DC Engineering, who spoke about alternatives to rack systems, CO2 condensing units, and propane condensing units
  • Todd Washburn of True Manufacturing, who spoke about propane self-contained systems

The day concluded with the construction of a timeline detailing the predicted evolution of mega-trends and providing insight about the future of natural refrigerant options. The workshop was filled with lively discussion about the future of natural refrigerants and commercial refrigeration.

Keep an eye out for future workshops on our events page!

Interested in hosting a natural refrigerant workshop in your area? Contact NASRC at info@nasrc.org.

Making Progress: NASRC Progress Group Highlights

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With the help of our members and partners, NASRC progress groups are actively addressing the hurdles that are slowing the progress of natural refrigerants. Each NASRC progress group is committed to taking action on a specific hurdle.

Recent Activities

Codes and Standards 

  • Recently, we had the opportunity to provide feedback on IIAR's low-charge ammonia guidance (ARM-LC) and give comment on a draft of the IIAR CO2 Safety Standard. Thank you to our members for your contributions.
  • We are calling for the supermarket industry to voice their support for faster action on codes and standards. Take action to support low-GWP refrigerants by signing the NASRC petition. Remember you can sign both as an individual and on behalf of an organization, forward it on to others!

Utilities and Energy Efficiency

  • The group has been exploring options to develop a broadly-accepted modeling tool to accurately estimate and validate the energy savings of any refrigeration system, include those using natural refrigerants. 
  • Join our next meeting to hear from guest presenters including the DOE Better Buildings Alliance this month and the American Carbon Registry in May!

Contractors and Service Technicians

Interested in getting involved with an NASRC progress group?