Refrigeration just took another step into the green frontier. In October of last year, Kysor/Warren installed an HFC-free refrigeration system in a Fresh & Easy market in Rosemead, Calif.  The system, one of only four in the country, uses CO₂ as the refrigerant. Due to their innovation, the Rosemead Fresh & Easy is expected to reduce its impact on the ozone layer by 70% less than the industry standards.

I think this could be really huge news for our industry.

Using CO₂ as a refrigerant makes a lot of sense – though I’m no refrigeration expert. Consider this though: carbon dioxide is assigned a Global Warming Potential (GWP) factor of 1. The current industry-standard refrigerant R134a carries a factor of 1300. This means the negative impact of R134a on the greenhouse effect is 1300 times higher than that of carbon dioxide! If CO₂ does happen to leak from the system, it has negligible negative effects on the environment.

CO2 - cool for our future?

Ice delivery 1958

CO₂ is also substantially less expensive to purchase than R134a .

There’s always a catch though. The challenge in switching to CO₂ is that of dealing with the higher pressure of a CO₂ refrigerant. Atlanta Energy Specialists installed Kysor/Warren’s first CO₂ system in a Food Lion in Columbus, Ga. To compensate for the greater CO₂ pressure, they made adjustments in the materials they used. European car makers have worked extensively with CO₂ cooling systems in cars, and they confront the same issue. They needed to re-spec parts of the AC systems, including gaskets and oils, to account for the higher pressure.

The combination of reduced emissions and lower refrigerant cost is hard to argue against. It may be just a matter of time before a similar technology makes its way to restaurant and even home cooling applications.

What do you think? What have I missed on this topic?