GWP Refrigerant

Globally, nearly 80 percent of harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are emitted from air conditioning, refrigeration, and motor vehicles. The remaining HFCs in the United States come from solvents, fire suppression chemicals, aerosols, and foam-blowing. Developed nations account for the majority of HFC emissions. However, it is estimated that the HFC emissions in developing nations will quadruple by 2030, largely due to an increased demand for air conditioning and refrigeration. 

Refrigerants are used in many different applications: Heating, Air-Conditioning, Ventilation and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) Equipment. Our current generation of refrigerants have zero ozone depletion potential, but their global-warming potential is significant when released into the atmosphere. Recently, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has led the charge in refrigerant regulations for large commercial systems with legislation requiring phase outs of HFCs in the near term. Proposals for further reductions in refrigerant GWP have been proposed and are being considered in other climate alliance states in the USA.

Since the 1990’s, HVACR equipment has largely implemented high Global Warming Potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. In response to global hydrofluorocarbon proposals and phase-down targets, the refrigerant industry has begun to develop equipment which implements low GWP alternative refrigerants. The “ideal” low GWP refrigerant would have the following characteristics:

  • Zero Global Warming Potential
  • Zero Ozone Depletion Potential
  • Operates under acceptable pressures
  • Is non-toxic
  • Is non-flammable
  • Has a volumetric capacity which is appropriate to the application

In the past, refrigerants were developed which were relatively non-toxic and non-flammable, yet were heavy on GWP and ozone depletion characteristics. Unfortunately, many of the more-recently-developed refrigerants, while applying a much better level of low GWP and low-ozone depletion characteristics, were more flammable, more toxic, and had lower volumetric capacities. Regulators are taking proper care in managing the risks of toxic and flammable low GWP refrigerants as they update Codes and Standards. 

Many refrigeration systems are being evaluated to switch to lower GWP refrigerants:

  • Stand-alone or self-contained systems, which house all refrigeration components within their structure
  • Commercial Icemakers
  • Food-service equipment
  • Walk in coolers
  • Refrigerated display cases
  • Cold Storage Equipment
  • Refrigerated Transportation
  • Packaged walk-in food storage equipment
  • Refrigerated food processing and dispensing equipment (ice cream machines, frozen beverage dispensers and chilled beverage dispensers)

Howe is Committed to the Environmental Health of Our Nation

One solution to the growing environmental concerns over HFCs is the use of natural refrigerants, such as CO2, Propane, or Ammonia. R404A is the most popular HFC for low temperature refrigeration applications and has a GWP of 3,922. CO2, Propane, and Ammonia have GWPs below 5. This means that systems that use these refrigerants pose less global warming potential risk when released into the atmosphere. While CO2 has been associated with greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 must be compared to popular HFCs, such as R404A, when used as a refrigerant. This reduction of GWP from refrigeration systems will be significant as they become more prevalent.

Due to potential hazards with Ammonia and Propane in use with refrigeration systems within commercial spaces, CO2 has become popular for some businesses focusing on sustainability. CO2 is chemically inert, heavier than air, non-flammable, and, all in all, extremely safe. There is no recycling or waste disposal required for CO2, as it is a naturally occurring substance. In the end, CO2 is a sustainable alternative to HFCs, helping limit greenhouse gas emissions and making the planet safer for many generations to come.

Howe has introduced a collection of CO2 Ice Flakers which are compatible with CO2 racks and rack controllers. Please read more about these units in our blog here. Offering simple, low-cost installation, and user features that improve the quality of food cooling applications. We keep an eye on regulations and have projects in development to meet the increasingly segmented regulations within the United States. We are proud to develop products that will benefit the environment by reducing refrigerant GWP in refrigeration systems. Howe believes a more sustainable future is the responsibility of all businesses.

For any questions regarding CO2 ice flake machines or any of our products, please contact us.

Please contact us with requests for any low GWP (Propane, etc.) ice machine applications you are considering for future use. Howe Corporation’s Engineering team takes pride in collaborating with customers and evaluates requests routinely for potential projects.

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Contact Howe today for superior ice machine flakers as well as other quality products.