GUIDE North America 2015 reveals a colourful and maturing industry for natural refrigerants

By Robert Davidson, Sep 17, 2015, 10:30 4 minute reading

shecco has published the newest addition to its GUIDE series, GUIDE to Natural Refrigerants in North America – State of the Industry 2015, a comprehensive and exciting follow-up to the previous edition published in 2013.

Two years ago, shecco found that the North American market was well on its path to the adoption of natural refrigerants. The first few stores were experimenting with CO2 transcritical in the United States and Canada, the use of ammonia in industrial refrigeration was seen as a world leader and consumer brands such as Unilever had successfully levied for approval for R290 in their ice cream freezers by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The new GUIDE demonstrates that due to a combination of market, policy and technology trends the North American market is maturing and is even further along the path to adopting natural refrigerants in all major sectors than expected.

The GUIDE details exactly how the three main sectors of light commercial, commercial and industrial refrigeration have progressed while highlighting where future expectations lie for the next application to widely adopt natural refrigerants.

Read the GUIDE to Natural Refrigerants in North America – State of the Industry 2015

North America a world leader in natural refrigerants for industrial refrigeration

One of the most exciting findings of the GUIDE was the level of sophistication the industrial refrigeration sector possesses. The previous GUIDE to North America detailed the advancements the American industrial refrigeration sector had achieved through its widespread use of ammonia. Yet, the recent GUIDE has shown that this trend has been eclipsed by recent developments. The rise of low-charge ammonia systems, CO2 transcritical and cascade systems using ammonia and CO2 in industrial applications is setting global standards.

The market maps presented in this chapter show all 324 installations that are improving energy efficiency while maintaining environmental friendliness. But while these signs are encouraging, there still remain opportunities for improvement, especially in ice rink applications.

With additional benefits such as the utilisation of “waste heat” in ice rinks leading to huge energy and cost savings, there is a large scope for wide adoption across the whole of North America, however, regulations in North America and some Canadian provinces prohibit this.

Natural refrigerants a part of global strategy for consumer brands with commercial refrigeration starting to follow suit

The use of natural refrigerants in global beverage companies and consumer brands in point of sales equipment has been increasing worldwide, with North America no exception. The Coca-Cola Company, Red Bull and Unilever all use natural refrigerants in their equipment wherever possible, with PepsiCo looking to use only HFC-free equipment by 2020. Moreover, it was seen that large food service brands such as McDonalds and Starbucks are also looking to use natural refrigerants in their equipment, presenting huge potential for growth in the future.

The notion of end users utilising natural refrigerants to help boost image and efficiency has also been adopted in the commercial refrigeration sector. Companies are now beginning to see natural refrigerant-based solutions as standards for new stores, with Sobeys, Food Lion and Target all looking to future-proof their stores with the use of natural refrigerants.

These commitments are translating to large increases in the number of natural refrigerant-based equipment in both sectors, with over 291,000 pieces of light commercial refrigeration equipment using natural refrigerants in North America and 409 supermarkets using natural refrigerants in the United States and Canada, nearly half of which are transcritical systems.

Tightening policy is having the desired effect for natural refrigerants in North America

The GUIDE details the various policies that have been implemented and are expected in the coming years with the conclusion that policy measures are aiding the adoption of natural refrigerants. On a global level, the United States, Canada and Mexico are all subject to phase out deadlines for HCFCs as per the Montreal Protocol. This means that HCFCs like R22 are being flushed out of systems and the economy, with a growing role for natural refrigerants in industrial refrigeration resulting.

In Mexico, this phase out is having a particularly strong influence on the market, with government policy leading to the ascension of hydrocarbon and COequipment suppliers appearing in Mexico. For the United States, its governmental actions have been seen as dramatic impetuses for industry to switch to natural refrigerants. Both through the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy (DOE), who can approve and delist refrigerants and impose efficiency requirements, respectively.

However, at a state and province level, the momentum is even more intriguing with California and Quebec standing out as clear leaders in regional promotion of natural refrigerants with legislation and incentives being put in place to promote technologies using natural refrigerants.

Learn more about the GUIDE in shecco's first webinar, hosted Tuesday 22nd September 6pm CET

Nina Masson, shecco's Deputy Managing Director, will host shecco's first ever webinar which will explore the GUIDE and its findings. Details on how to register will follow. If you have any questions regarding shecco's webinars, feel free to contact us at:


By Robert Davidson

Sep 17, 2015, 10:30

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