Carrier’s environmentally-sound solution
- From the May 2016 issue.
Carrier is one company that’s a step ahead of recently raised global emissions adjustments, with environmentally sustainable transport refrigeration concepts already in development.
In November last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) hosted its annual Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, which aimed to bring together representatives from around the world to discuss the state of the ozone layer.
Attended by Australian Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, the 2015 meeting had a new focus that could have a significant effect on the global transport industry.
For the first time, it focused on reducing the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), a category of synthetic greenhouse gases that are commonly used in stationary and transport temperature control systems as a refrigerant.
Returning home after the meeting in Dubai, Greg announced that Australia would be taking action to reduce HFC emissions by 85 per cent by 2036. While the deadline gives refrigeration companies some breathing room to produce alternatives, environmentally minded refrigeration technology specialist Carrier is already one step ahead, having long focussed on developing systems with reduced emissions.
“Carrier is committed to deploying products and technologies that minimise environmental impact while serving customer needs. This is equally true with refrigerants,” says Kelly Geddes, Carrier Transicold Australia Marketing Manager.
“Whilst we are focused on the use of natural refrigerants, ultimately Carrier will have the right refrigerant solution for every application, while not every application may have the same refrigerant solution.”
As there are numerous HFCs that can be produced with various compositions, the synthetic gases are designated a Global Warming Potential (GWP) number to rank the effect they have on the environment. Many common transport refrigeration systems use a HFC known as R404A that has a GWP number of 3,260 – which is on the high end of the scale. So, Carrier has worked with refrigerant suppliers to develop one refrigeration alternative that uses a ‘greener’ refrigerant, which counts a 45 per cent reduction in GWP.
“Carrier Transicold has announced that it will offer R452A as an optional alternative to the existing R404A refrigerant. R452A has the same cooling capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability and refrigerant charge as R404A, but offers a 45 per cent GWP reduction,” Kelly says. “R452A is a non-toxic, non-flammable alternative, and systems using R452A can be purchased new from the factory or customers can have the option to convert existing units.”
Using the replacement gas is a significant start to helping reach the Environment Minister’s 85 per cent reduction goal, yet Kelly says that for Carrier, it’s just an interim solution in the company’s long-standing dedication to continuously develop refrigeration systems with the environment in mind. For example, 17 years ago the company introduced its E-Drive, which removes the mechanical transmissions found in older belt driven technology and instead transforms engine power directly into electricity through a generator.
Building on the E-Drive technology, Kelly says that Carrier also has several hybrid systems in the testing stages (see breakout box), as well as prototypes that completely remove the synthetic refrigerants – concepts that could arguably be a game-changer for the Montreal Protocol’s new focus.
Carrier will continue investigating other potential new non-flammable and non-toxic refrigerant alternatives with lower GWP, as needed with the end goal of natural refrigerants such as CO2. “We’re evaluating new technology that is a completely self-sustaining system using a thermo-chemical reaction with a natural refrigerant to produce cold,” Kelly says. “We also have a commercially available product in the container industry and a working prototype in trailer refrigeration that uses a closed-loop system with carbon dioxide, which is an important milestone as carbon dioxide is natural and non-ozone depleting, with a GWP of one.”
While the Montreal Protocol amendment to focus on HFCs is currently pending approval, once accepted, the transport industry could arguably be one step ahead, ready and able to play its part in reducing emissions with refrigeration innovations like those from environmentally-conscious companies like Carrier.