Working Group III: Mitigation

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A3.2.5 Food Processing, Cold Storage, and Other Industrial Refrigeration Equipment

Owing to their long lifetime, three out of four CFC systems are still in use in cold storage and food processing. The main non-CFC refrigerants used are ammonia, HCFC-22, HFC-134a, HFC blends, and hydrocarbons, with significant regional differences (see Section A3.4).

In the industrial sub-sector all types of refrigerants are used, with HCFCs and ammonia currently representing the majority of the refrigerant volume. Hydrocarbons hold a significant market share in industrial sub-sectors that handle flammable fluids. Since industrial refrigeration does not pose risks to the public, efficient ammonia and hydrocarbon systems are often used. The majority of the larger CFC systems used for cold storage and food processing are still in operation and may keep operating until 2010 to 2015.

Ammonia has traditionally been used in the cold storage sector because of its low cost and high efficiency. It has increased its importance in Europe and Australia. In the USA it is estimated to have a 90% market share in systems of 100kW cooling capacity and above; however, the market share of ammonia in industrial systems is much lower. In the developing countries, ammonia and HCFC-22 are expected to remain the most important alternatives. Unfortunately, many of these systems exhibit low efficiency due to poor system design.

HFC-134a has not been used much since the use of CFC-12 was traditionally small relative to HCFC-22. R-404A and R-507 are currently the most commonly used HFCs in these sub-sectors. However, their efficiencies are low compared to ammonia and HCFC-22 if the equipment is not very well designed. R-410A is well suited for industrial applications, with an insignificant market share at present, but it is estimated to grow significantly during the next decade (UNEP, 1998a). The HFCs are currently used in about 10% of new systems in Europe and in 20% in other developed countries. The demand for HFCs is expected to grow by about 40% between 2000 and 2010. It is expected that recovery and re-use will be cost effective in this sector. Rough estimates are that the emission rates are currently 6% per annum for new HFC systems, and are expected to decrease further over the next decade.

A3.2.6 Transport Refrigeration

Transport refrigeration relates to reefer ships, containers, railcars, and road transport. The majority of reefer ships currently use HCFC-22; the vast majority of new containers are equipped with HFC-134a or R-404A, and also R-410A.

For road transport, new equipment uses HFC-134a, R-404A, and still a considerable amount (estimated 25%) of HCFC-22. Owing to the mechanically and thermally harsh operating environment, the emissions estimated from transport refrigeration are significant and exceed 25% of the charge annually in many applications. One German manufacturer produces trucks equipped with refrigeration systems using propane.

Although the use of ammonia on ships has a reasonable potential, its proliferation has not been significant. Carbon dioxide has been tested for cooling containers; however, its future market share is difficult to predict and cost indications are lacking.

HFC-134a and, in the near future, R-410A are forecast to be the most important refrigerants for transport refrigeration. It is almost certain that all reefer ships will utilize R-410A. The fraction of equipment using HFCs in the mid-1990s was about 15% (UNEP, 1998a) and that fraction is expected to grow, e.g. one study (Harnisch and Hendriks, 2000) estimates the fraction in Europe to be 70% by 2010 and 100% by 2030.

In the developing countries, the use of HCFC-22 could continue until phase-out is required in 2040, after which HFC-134a or other options developed by then may take over the market.

A3.2.7 Summary of Alternative Refrigerant Use

An overview of the current pattern of refrigerant fluids by sub-sector and technology is provided in Table A3.5.

Table A3.5: Alternative refrigerant options for the specific refrigeration and air conditioning sub-sectors: buildings (domestic and commercial refrigeration, residential and commercial air conditioners, chillers), industry (food processing and cold storage, other industrial processes), transport (transport refrigeration and mobile air conditioning)
Refrigerant options
HFC-134a R-404A HFC blends HCs NH3 Absor-ption HCFC CO2 H2O
Domestic refrigeration *     *          
Comm. refrigeration                  
   Small (< 5 kW) * * * *     *    
   Other (> 5 kW)   * * * S * S   * P  
Residential A/C                  
   Unitary A/C (<20 kW) *   * *     * P  
Commercial A/C                  
   Unitary A/C (>20 kW)     * O/S         O
   Centrifugal *     O * * *   O
   Food processing * * * * *   *    
   Cold storage   * *   *   * P  
   Other industrial * *   * * * *   P
Transport refrigeration * * * *     * O/P  
Mobile A/C *     P       P  
Note: (* ) indicates current practice, (O) small number installed, (P) prototype installed, (S) includes secondary loop.

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