Debunking the Myths Around CO2 Refrigeration Systems
With more and more food retailers switching to CO2, we address and disprove common misconceptions about the natural refrigerant.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has been used as a safe and reliable refrigerant since the Industrial Revolution. Now, modern food retailers are adopting CO2 as their preferred refrigerant – and for good reason. The list of advantages using CO2 is comprehensive. However, that hasn’t stopped the spread of myths about CO2.
Myth: You Can’t Use Transcritical CO2 Below the CO2 Equator
Because ambient temperatures get higher the closer you get to the equator, a misguided argument was created that you shouldn’t use transcritical CO2 systems below the so-called “CO2 Equator.”
The “CO2 Equator” myth is no longer relevant, thanks to advances in refrigeration system technology. Even if there ever was any truth to it, those days are long gone.
Myth: CO2 Requires Significantly More Energy vs. Traditional Refrigerants
Many operators will mistakenly size their CO2 system according to HFC-system parameters, but the inherent differences in the two types of systems mean an improperly designed CO2 system can be much less efficient than an R449A system.
When you properly design the CO2 system and add components – adiabatic gas coolers, parallel compressors, parallel compressors with high pressure ejectors and electronic expansion valves (EEVs) – a CO2 system can be more efficient than the R449A system.
Myth: Pressure in a CO2 System Is Dangerously High
Some people fear the pressure that may exist on a hot summer day – up to 1,600 psi – is dangerous to anyone who comes into close contact with the coolers or freezers. Some critics go as far as saying the pressure can be a serious risk to shoppers on the floor.
The pressure in a CO2 system located inside a grocery store is actually lower than the pressure used to power paintball guns and scuba tanks, and we don’t think twice about playing paintball or scuba diving.
Myth: Refrigerant-Grade CO2 Isn’t Widely Available in North America
In 2020 and 2021, outside factors contributed to this myth – contaminated wells and a shortage of CO2 cylinders chief among them. There were also notorious supply chain issues.
CO2 supply worries are largely a thing of the past. Refrigerant-grade CO2 is widely available from many suppliers in North America, and both Refrigerant- and Coleman-grade CO2 are now acceptable for refrigeration systems.