Rajan-Rajendran

Dr Rajan Rajendran: “Commercial refrigeration industry is at a crossroads”

USA: Emerson Climate Technologies has called for an extension to the proposed US HFC phase-out schedule to give the supply chain time to prepare.

Writing in the latest edition of Emerson’s E360 Outlook, Dr Rajan Rajendran, Emerson’s vice president, engineering services and sustainability, reveals that the plea to the US Environmental Protection Agency for an extension was one of two proposals made to US government departments during the consultation period. Concerned that the proposals also conflict with the Energy Department’s proposed new energy efficiency standards, Emerson also called on the EPA and the DOE to co-ordinate both regulatory initiatives into a single, more reasonable date.

Describing the commercial refrigeration industry in the USA as being at a crossroads, he writes ‘In one direction, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban many commonly used refrigerants in favour of low-GWP alternatives. In the other direction, the Department of Energy (DOE) is mandating significant reductions in energy consumption for reach-ins, walk-ins and ice makers by 2017. If that wasn’t challenging enough, the two regulations at times conflict — with the DOE’s new standards based on the EPA’s delisted refrigerants.’

The EPA’s final rule on refrigerant delisting will not be announced until the middle of this year but the US industry is anxiously awaiting the agency’s decision.

Emerson’s participation in the NOPR process included a two-fold recommendation to extend the phase-out schedule of R404A, and the other prominent higher GWP refrigerants targeted, by five or six years and a call for the EPA and the DOE to co-ordinate both regulatory initiatives into a single, more reasonable date.

‘Of course,’ writes Rajan Rajendran, ‘The worst case scenario would present a considerable challenge. If the current proposal on refrigerants becomes the final rule, OEMs will have all of six months to get new equipment and retrofit components ready for the 2016 EPA deadline. Right after which the equipment makers will have to work to meet the new higher efficiencies mandated by the DOE. This, in my opinion, will be close to impossible, as once the equipment changes are researched, designed and tested, they still have to be “agency approved” (UL, NSF, etc.) which are also resource constrained.’

He also points out that the 2016–2017 deadlines are just the next steps in a broader initiative by the DOE and EPA to reduce the carbon footprint in commercial refrigeration over the next 30-40 years.

‘It is our hope that these governing bodies could not only consolidate their regulatory steps but also consider the short- and long-term implications to the equipment supply chain. Nothing would be more challenging, cost prohibitive or wasteful than to prepare equipment to meet regulations in 2017 and then go through the whole process again in a matter of years.’

Dr Rajan Rajendran’s column can be read in full in the latest edition of Emerson Climate Technologies’ E360 Outlook.

Related stories:

US could ban R404A from 2016 July 11, 2014
USA: A number of common HFC refrigerants including R404A and R134a could be banned in certain uses from as early as January 1, 2016, under new proposals put forward by the US EPA. Read more…

Emerson prepares to address EPA bans – August 15, 2014
USA: Compressor manufacturer Emerson Climate Technologies has sympathised with the retail refrigeration industry over US EPA proposals to ban a number of commonly-used refrigerants by 2016. Read more…

Congressman challenges refrigerant ban – April 2, 2015
USA: A member of the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce has written to the EPA expressing serious concern over plans to ban certain high GWP refrigerants. Read more…