As the food retail industry seeks alternative refrigerants beyond HFC’s due to environmental concerns, it is sensible to focus our attention on the increasingly viable alternative which is R290, or commonly called Propane.
As a refrigerant, R290 has not caught on as quickly in North America, but it is frequently used in other parts of the world. For example, in Europe, they have been widely using R-290 as a refrigerant since the 1990s and are continuing to do so.
Because of its proven environmental and business bottom-line impact around Europe, food retailers here in the US have started considering using R290 as a substitute refrigerant in their establishments, and below are some reasons why you should consider following suit.
There Are Known Procedures for Safely Using Propane
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed R290 as an acceptable refrigerant alternative to R404A and R407 under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). Accordingly, it is suitable for use in a range of refrigeration and air-conditioning applications.
Though it’s highly flammable, there are methods and regulations in place on how to use R290 safely for food retail establishments. In fact, R290 is currently limited to a maximum charge of 150 grams per circuit. Great care is required in the manufacture, installation, and service of R290 in stores which is why it is highly recommended not to retrofit R290 in existing fluorocarbon refrigerant systems.
Also, for safety purposes, R290 produced specifically for refrigeration systems – purity not less than 98.5% and moisture content below 10ppm – should be used in food retail establishments.
It is highly recommended that fully trained refrigeration technicians are permitted to service propane refrigeration systems. Here at Hillphoenix, we have trained over 25,000 individuals to service the retail refrigeration industry including the handling of R290. The Hillphoenix Learning Center is positioned to be a global educational provider for contractors, engineers, employees, merchandisers, and customers.
Low Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Propane is non-toxic, has a 0 ozone depletion potential level, and has a Global Warming Potential of 3. With Low GWP food retailers who use propane in their establishments increase their chances of achieving GreenChill Store Certification.
Low Energy Consumption
A huge part of the widespread use of R-290 in Europe is because of its saving potential. R-290 -cooled appliances maximize the use of energy thus reducing energy consumption in your business. The low energy consumption of R-290 plus its low cost, make it a top choice for food retailers in their refrigeration systems.
As we evaluate the environmental implications refrigerants have on our ozone layer, it is logical to move to more environmentally friendly natural refrigerants such as the use of R290. In doing so, we are not just helping save the environment, but we are also doing well for our business and our customers.