USA: Seeking a replacement for its R22 refrigeration system that was both easy to use and would require minimal system changes, US retailer Balls Food Stores has successfully trialled a system using R449A.

Sold by Chemours as Opteon XP40, R449A has a GWP of 1282, is said to closely match the properties and performance to R404A and can also replace other HFCs such as R507A, R407A and R407F. It also offers a direct replacement solution to supermarkets looking for a more sustainable replacement for R22, along with a 27% lower GWP.

A team from Balls Food Stores, along with mechanical contractor, The Waldinger Corporation, Key Refrigeration Supply and Chemours, discussed various options and decided to conduct their first store trial with R449A.

Balls Food Stores operates around 30 Price Chopper and Hen House stores around Kansas City, Missouri.

Waldinger performed the work to Chemours retrofit guidelines. The conversion process was said to be straightforward with all systems (low and medium temperature) starting up, pulling down, and achieving stable operation quickly.

The conversion process included eight easy steps and was almost identical to their previous experience with R22 to R407A conversions:

1. Establish baseline performance of system
2. Change lubricant to POE
3. Recover R22
4. Replace filter driers
5. Replace critical elastomeric seals
6. Evacuate and leak check
7. Charge with R449A and label system
8. Start up, monitor system, and adjust set points

Derek Hileman of Waldinger Mechanical said: “It couldn’t have been simpler. The actual system conversion took just a few hours. The rack systems have continued to work well since the retrofit, keeping the store’s meat, produce, ice cream, and other foods fresh. As an added bonus, the compressor discharge temperature of XP40 is so much lower than R22, the on-demand cooling in our low-temp racks that used to run all the time with R22 hasn’t kicked on once.”

As well as environmental and energy efficiency benefits, Balls Food and Waldinger found a significant improvement in the lower discharge temperature of R449A.

“With R22 in the low temp rack, we had a lot of problems with the demand cooling tripping out,” explained Waldinger lead technician John Engle. “The compressor would run so hot that the oil would burn up, and we had to change the oil at least once a year. With XP40, the oil is clean as a whistle, and the demand cooling never turned on—not even in the heat of the summer.”

Delighted with the results of the trial, Scott Butkovich, Balls Food Stores’ director of store development indicated that his company would be carrying out further R22 to R449A in the future.