Refrigeration and air conditioning applications have an impact on the environment, contributing to ozone depletion and global warming. The negative impact on global warming by commercial walkin freezer image refrigeration is due to refrigeration leaks and the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity to run them.

Refrigeration equipment consumes a lot of electricity that is generally produced by burning fossil fuel that emits CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere. This gas is the main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that could lead to global warming and climate change. 

Refrigerant gas leaks into the atmosphere by commercial refrigeration equipment can cause ozone depletion and contribute to global warming. 

Commercial refrigeration equipment is used to store and display chilled or frozen goods for customer purchase at food retail and service establishments (e.g., supermarkets, convenience stores, commissaries, hospitals, restaurants, and cafeterias).

Equipment used in these applications can generally be categorized into three main system types:

  • Stand-alone or self-contained refrigeration systems
  • Remote condensing unit systems
  • Multiplex rack systems (i.e., supermarket systems)

Stand-alone or self-contained refrigeration systems house all refrigeration components (e.g., evaporator, cooling coil, compressor, and condenser) within their structure. These types
of systems cover a wide range of equipment types, including:

  • Reach-in refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Beverage coolers
  • Ice makers
  • Foodservice equipment 
  • Water coolers

Remote condensing unit systems typically consist of one or two compressors, one condenser, and one receiver assembled into a modular system. The systems are connected to display cases or walk-in refrigerators and freezers through a refrigerant piping network. In most cases, the unit is located on the building rooftop or outside at ground level. Unlike self-contained equipment,
remote condensing units are not pre-charged and plug-in ready. They must be assembled and charged on-site before going into operation.

Multiplex rack systems, sometimes referred to as supermarket systems, are commonly used to cool remote walk-in refrigerators and freezers and display cases in supermarkets and hypermarkets. They are custom designed and complex, consisting of racks of multiple compressors and other components that are connected to a remote condenser. The system is linked to multiple display cases through a piping network. The condensers are usually remotely located, such as on the roof above the machinery room.

Refrigerant emissions from commercial refrigeration equipment can occur throughout the equipment’s life cycle. System leaks during operation are generally caused by the inevitable wear on a refrigeration system over time (e.g., due to vibration, thermal expansion and contraction, and corrosion), as well as poor design and improper installation, servicing, and/or maintenance practices, including poor brazing techniques, improperly tightened fittings, missing valve caps and seals, use of incompatible materials, improper support of copper tubing, and inadequate leak diagnosis and repair.

Refrigerant leaks are generally caused by improper refrigerant recovery techniques. The extent of refrigerant losses will depend on various factors including the existence of and compliance with refrigerant recovery laws, the technical efficiency of refrigerant recovery equipment, and the proficiency of technicians’ service practices.

Improvements in the technologies and practices adopted by manufacturers, technicians, and equipment owners, the introduction of alternative refrigerants and technologies, implementation of refrigerant recovery laws and standards, and market/policy drivers that
provide financial incentives for recovery, may help to offset most HFC refrigerant emissions from commercial refrigeration equipment.

Global demand for commercial refrigeration equipment is expected to increase dramatically. Many commercial refrigeration systems in use contain ozone-depleting refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-12, hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22, and R-502, which are being
phased out globally under the Montreal Protocol.

Many new units sold today contain HFCs and HFC blends, namely HFC-134a, R-404A,
and R-507A, with GWP values of 1,430, 3,920, and 3,985, respectively. A number of lower-GWP alternative refrigerants are available and currently in use or under development for use in commercial refrigeration.

EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program ensures the smooth transition to alternatives that pose a lower overall risk to human health and the environment. Under SNAP, EPA has listed several alternatives as acceptable for use in retail food refrigeration equipment, including propane (R-290), carbon dioxide (CO2, R-744), and ammonia (R-717). 

Alternative chemicals, new technologies, as well as better process and handling practices, can
significantly reduce HFC use in both the near and long term.  . Although much work remains to fully develop and adopt some of these low-GWP alternatives, industries have proven through the ODS phase-out that they can move quickly to develop low-GWP alternatives that protect the environment.

Businesses can reduce the direct impact on the environment by:

 • Use a refrigerant gas with lower environmental impact, such as a refrigerant gas with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and low global warming potential (GWP). 

 • Lower the leak rates of your system by ensuring that your system is leak-tight. Consider fitting leak-detection systems and follow a regular maintenance schedule.

 • Recover and dispose of refrigerant gas correctly when maintaining, upgrading or decommissioning a system.

•  Minimise the power consumption of your refrigeration or air conditioning system.

Ohio Refrigeration can help you choose the best type of refrigerant, leak detection and correct end-of-life gas treatment for your business.  Give us a call to learn more. 614-863-6666.

Contact Us

Topics: commercial refrigeration equipment, HFC refrigerants

Ohio Refrigeration

Written by Ohio Refrigeration