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Festival Foods opts for R448A

USA: After an evaluation of lower GWP refrigeration options, Wisconsin-based supermarket chain Festival Foods has opted to replace R404A refrigerant with R448A.

A family-owned supermarket chain headquartered in De Pere, Wisconsin, Festival Foods has, like most supermarkets, previously used R404A in its 28 stores.

The company has doubled its number of stores since 2011. Last year’s opening of a new 70,000ft² store in Menasha had prompted a reassessment of all its refrigerant options.

“The Menasha build would set a precedent for future builds as well, so we wanted to make a careful, well-informed decision that would stand the test of time and be cost-effective,” said Festival Foods director of construction and facilities Roger Schlomann.

“The Menasha supermarket is not only a big build at 70,000ft² but it was also setting the tone for the future so it was especially critical to take a step back and assess all the refrigerant options,” said Mitchell Melendy, store planner and project manager for contractor John’s Refrigeration. Founded in 1980, John’s Refrigeration has been supporting Festival Foods for more than 20 years.

Faced with the phase-out of R404A, the company wanted to select a refrigerant that could meet performance demands while offering regulatory longevity. Other key requirements included a much lower GWP, near drop-in installation, easy serviceability, system affordability, safety and energy efficiency.

Festival Foods worked closely with John’s Refrigeration, to evaluate two options: carbon dioxide transcritical systems and Solstice N40 (R448A) technology from Honeywell. John’s Refrigeration also consulted with Zero Zone, its equipment partner, to ensure a complete perspective.

“Solstice N40 came out on top, meeting all the criteria,” Melendy said, adding that there were too many risky outliers for CO2 to give it serious consideration, such as lack of trained technicians and concerns about the safety of operating at high pressures.

Solstice N40 is reported to be proving to be reliable and energy efficient, and is a contributing factor to the overall energy savings for new Festival Foods stores. “Another big part of the decision was that we could get from 4,000 GWP to less than 1,500 which, when combined with drop-in capability and non-flammability – is huge. Our plan is to stay with this refrigerant for the future – we are already on our fourth new build using Solstice N40,” said Schlomann.

As with most new builds at Festival Foods, the Menasha store is a full-service, offering everything from meat, deli and produce to beverages, baked goods and frozen foods.

To support this diversity of needs, John’s Refrigeration worked with Zero Zone and other original equipment manufacturers to design a system that features low- and medium-temperature refrigeration racks, along with two KeepRite condensers. In addition, Zero Zone provided display cases and over 300 frozen door cases for this location, while four other manufacturers provided 82 additional display cases including wide-island cases, service cases and open multi-decks. On top of this, the store has 15 walk-in coolers and freezers.

Zero Zone designed the systems to work with Solstice N40, so no modifications had to be made to the either the low- or medium-temperature racks on site.

“Components that are rated for use with R448A are readily available,” said Bruce Hierlmeier, director of regulatory compliance and refrigeration technology at Zero Zone. “We were able to design equipment for use with R448A and meet the required delivery date without issue.”

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