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SPAIN: Faced with HFC phase-out pressures and high Spanish taxes on refrigerant R404A, Eroski, Spain’s second-largest supermarket chain, is trialling Chemours Opteon XP40 (R449A).

The introduction of the European F-gas regulation in 2015 and expensive Spanish taxes on high GWP refrigerants R404A led Eroski to make the decision to retrofit its supermarket refrigeration systems to a low GWP refrigerant alternative. 

R404A, one of the most common supermarket refrigerants has a GWP of 3,922. The GWP of R449A at 1,397 offers a substantial reduction. It was developed to replace R404A/R507A in positive displacement, DX low- and medium-temperature systems and is said to offer improved energy efficiency.

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The store chosen for the retrofit was the 37,000m² Eroski supermarket in Basauri, Vizcaya.

Eroski enlisted Iparhotz/Iparfrio, a Spanish refrigeration installation and service company, and Kimikal, the official Spanish distributor of Opteon refrigerants, to help with the retrofit.

The retrofit was conducted on the medium- and low-temperature systems. Five newly installed Bitzer screw compressors served the DX medium-temperature system while four newly installed Bitzer screw compressors operated the low-temperature side.

In order to not disrupt the centre’s commercial activity, the retrofit was completed in a single night outside of operating hours. Adjustments were made the next day to ensure that the proper settings were in place to provide optimum system performance.

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“Environmental consciousness is a key value for our company,” insisted Eroski maintenance manager Esther Arando. “The combined low GWP and energy efficiency of Opteon XP40 allowed us to not only retrofit our R404A systems with a more sustainable refrigerant, but to improve performance as well.”

The success of the Eroski Bilbondo supermarket retrofit has encouraged over 150 other supermarket customers of Iparhotz/Iparfrio to begin to make the change to R449A.