U.S. retailers look towards CO2 transcritical


Whole Foods, Target, Hannaford Supermarkets and even the US Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) have ramped up their natref use.

n a sign of the growing popularity of natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R systems in the United States, Whole Foods, Target, Hannaford Supermarkets and even the U.S. Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced plans to ramp up their use of CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical.

Tristam Coffin, director of sustainability and facilities at Whole Foods Market, told ATMOsphere America 2017 in San Diego, Calif. that his company would retrofit 15-30 stores per year with natural refrigerant-based systems.

The U.S. retailer currently boasts 22 natural refrigerant-based stores, 12 of which are all-natural refrigeration systems. Its system specs include transcritical CO<sub>2</sub>, hydrocarbon/CO<sub>2</sub> cascades and HFC/CO<sub>2</sub>.

“We see the greatest opportunities in retrofits. Natural refrigerants have higher initial system costs compared to HFC and HFO-based DX systems, but prices are dropping quickly,” Coffin told his San Diego audience.

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<strong>A clear CO<sub>2</sub> trend</strong>

Retail giant Target is also taking the CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical plunge. “This year, we’re installing our first ever CO<sub>2</sub> TC systems – our first ever CO<sub>2</sub> TC system will be in Marin City, CA, and our second will be in Minneapolis, MN,” said Target's Paul Anderson.

“We’ll evaluate the effectiveness of our CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical systems for future use,” he added.

The company has already embraced hydrocarbons in a big way. “Most stores in our chain now have some kind of hydrocarbon technology in them […]. Well over half of our stores utliise natural refrigerants,” Anderson declared.

Contractor AAA Refrigeration Service sees increased opportunities for them in CO<sub>2</sub> technology. 
”We’ll begin installing our fifth CO<sub>2</sub> TC store soon,” said Peter Savage from the company's New York office.

Currently the contractor has five CO<sub>2</sub> stores – four transcritical and one cascade – based in the New York/New Jersey area.

“We’re education-based. We have in-house training to help ease concerns regarding the transition from standard DX or glycol systems to high-pressure CO<sub>2</sub> refrigeration systems,” Savage said.

<strong>Europe pushing the U.S. forward</strong>

Harrison Horning of Hannaford Supermarkets argued that the food retail sector is moving fast to CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical technology.

“[Our Maine store] was the first in the U.S. to [retrofit a] CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical system,” Horning told the audience. The store is 50,000 square foot and opened in 1989.

“It met the criteria for a retrofit to CO<sub>2</sub> TC, supporting the corporate goals [of European parent company Ahold Delhaize] of ODS [ozone-depleting substances] phase-out and GHG [greenhouse gas]  emission reduction,” he said.

Paul Alway, formerly of UK retail giant M&S and Tesco, is bringing his natural refrigerant experience to bear at his new home, the AB Group.

“CO<sub>2</sub> and natural refrigerants are business as usual for M&S and Tesco now,” Alway told the retail panel at ATMO America.

He highlighted the reliability of new natural refrigerant systems as a major advantage outweighing any cost concerns. “You have to make peace with the idea that natural refrigerant systems cost more than HFC-based systems. By chasing cost parity, you risk engineering systems to the point that they are no longer reliable,” he argued.

John Stuit of the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) – responsible for supermarkets on U.S. military bases worldwide – insisted that CO<sub>2</sub> can perform well in warm ambient climates.

DeCA has natural refrigerant systems in five locations, including at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, CA – “If we can make CO<sub>2</sub> transcritical work at Edwards Air Force Base, we can make it work anywhere,” Stuit said.


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