Food Forum: Clearing the air

Continued implementation of the Clean Air Act means grocers now have to figure out the best way to get up to code with their refrigeration. 

By  Sean  Patrick

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, R-22 is a greenhouse gas and the manufacture of R-22 results in a by-product that contributes significantly to global warming. Additionally, releases of R-22 contribute to ozone depletion. Sean_Patrick_Cropped

“As a Party to the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. must incrementally decrease HCFC consumption and production, culminating in a complete HCFC phase-out in 2030. The major milestones that are upcoming for developed countries are a reduction in 2015 to at least 90% below baseline HCFC levels and a reduction in 2020 to at least 99.5% below baseline.

Section 605 of the Clean Air Act sets the U.S. phase-out targets for Class II substances. In 1993, the EPA established the phase-out framework and the “worst-first” approach that focused first on HCFC-22, HCFC-141b, and HCFC-142b because these three HCFCs have the highest ozone depletion potential of all HCFCs.”  —Environmental Protection Agency, Phase-out of Class II Ozone-Depleting Substances

To comply with the EPA and to protect the growth and profitability of the grocery business in the future, the time has come to convert from R-22. With doing nothing no longer a viable option, the dilemma now is down to a choice between two scenarios, retrofit or wholesale replacement.

The conversion can be a daunting and complex task if you have to manage it on your own. Fortunately, there are companies in the industry that can handle it for you; but how do you know if the one you select will do the job correctly and efficiently, with the least disruption to your daily business?

You should retain a company that has the resources to get the conversion done correctly, economically and efficiently, and one that has the significant experience in dealing with R-22 to strike a balance between long- and short-term results. It is wise to select a company that has a process they can show you for getting the project done.

The importance of a rehearsed and documented process for the conversion cannot be overstated. This work is done on a live system; therefore, downtime is crucial. The company performing the retrofit needs to have the experience and documented process that makes sure you minimize that downtime. Since the conversion must be completed in a timely manner, demand that the work be done with the least disruption in the store and the cleanest outcome. The company you retain to handle the conversion should provide you with options that will not only be compliant—but will also prevent gases from escaping into the environment. Each step in the process should be defined and documented so that you can identify when the process is not flowing as it should. There are a number of gaskets and o-rings that need to be changed in order to avoid having the new refrigerant leaking out. The company providing the conversion needs to have an in-depth knowledge of which gaskets, o-rings and components need to be changed and which do not.

Make sure the conversion organization you select also has the personnel qualified to do the job. Ask if there will be a project manager on site to shepherd the job through and around any complications that may arise to a final, successful conclusion. Ensure that they can do every aspect of the conversion: scope walk to order the parts necessary and to identify anything that may cause complications; the engineering to check system capacity and to check the existing components compatibility with the new oil and refrigerant; and, finally, the conversion work itself.

Sean Patrick is the director of comprehensive services for The AMS Group. He can be reached at THE AMS GROUP is a turnkey organization for aftermarket solutions.   

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