Star Refrigeration helps plant owners to weigh up natural refrigerant options as F-gas Regulations tighten

June 19, 2023
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As the UK cooling industry awaits the outcome of ongoing F-gas negotiations between the European Commission, Council and Parliament, leading refrigeration experts from Star Refrigeration emphasise the importance of informed decision-making with regard to selecting natural refrigerant options. The company’s guidance aims to strike a balance between compliance, competitiveness, and long-term efficiency, encouraging customers to consider their unique operational and business needs in order to select the optimum long term solution.

Star Refrigeration has pioneered innovative ammonia and CO2 refrigeration and heating technology for over five decades. It recognises the push towards natural refrigerants is gaining traction and works with operators to select the correct refrigerant solution for the specific application.

Dr Rob Lamb, Sales and Marketing Director at Star Refrigeration, said “We’ve seen increased interest in natural refrigerant solutions following the EU’s draft F-gas Regulation proposal which further restricts the production and consumption of synthetic fluids with high global warming potentials. This has predominantly resulted in an increased interest in the use of CO2 and ammonia across a wide range of applications, temperature and capacities. There is no silver bullet that suits all these applications and while CO2 is suitable for some applications, ammonia is better suited for others. In some cases, a combined approach may be the optimal solution.”

“It is crucial for businesses to carefully assess the technical, safety and costs implications associated with each option and choose the most suitable refrigerant and technology accordingly.”

While the EU’s final decision to the proposed F-gas Regulation is not yet known, it is expected that the life-expectancy of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and their blends will be shortened and that regulations to restrict their use through quotas and bans will be accelerated. Although the UK is not legally bound to adhere to the proposed update post-Brexit, the government is likely to follow much if not all of what the EU’s decides in order to ensure compliance with the Montreal Protocol and its own net zero emissions law.

Refrigeration plant owners are looking for alternatives to HFCs to stay ahead of legislative requirements and avoid possible refrigerant price increases as the result of an accelerated phase-down. Star Refrigeration have released a guide highlighting factors to consider when considering the use of CO2 and ammonia. This takes into account cooling capacity, budget constraints, safety protocols, and long-term operational efficiency. The guide offers impartial advice on the opportunities and challenges facing businesses seeking to switch to a more sustainable cooling solution.

Dr Lamb, said, “Each refrigerant offers unique benefits for companies looking to reduce energy consumption and work towards net zero goals.

“CO2 is a particularly attractive option for small to medium cooling capacities and for low temperature applications such as blast freezing. Its properties allow for smaller component and pipework sizes to be used and it is compatible with copper, making it cheaper to install than ammonia. It also offers heat recovery potential for mains water heating when run in transcritical mode. The challenges with CO2 when compared to ammonia are increased electrical consumption and the number of components (e.g. compressors) required for larger system cooling capacities.”

“The efficiency and longevity of ammonia refrigerantion systems is well-established, delivering substantial life cycle savings for industrial applications. Its mildly flammable and toxic nature means there are additional safety considerations when designing ammonia systems and its incompatibility with copper requires the use of steel for heat exchangers and pipework, resulting in higher initial capital costs. Technology innovations such as low charge ammonia systems have reduced refrigerant charges to less than 0.18 kg/kW which has helped address safety concerns and broadened the opportunities for its use in smaller capacity and more diverse applications.”

Star Refrigeration’s collaborates closely with major international manufacturers to handpick and custom-design CO2 and ammonia solutions that align with the specific application requirements. Through this expertise in the selection and combination of components, the company manufactures high-spec refrigeration systems designed to deliver optimal energy performance and significantly reduce maintenance costs throughout the lifetime of the systems.

To find out more about the characteristics of CO2 and ammonia and their respective advantages for different applications, go to: https://www.star-ref.co.uk/smart-thinking/the-future-of-refrigeration-long-term-refrigerants/

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