New advanced refrigeration technology provides clean energy, low utility bills for supermarkets
Traditional supermarket refrigeration systems found in most U.S. grocery stores require a substantial amount of energy to keep fruits and vegetables fresh year-round. An average supermarket consumes nearly two million kilowatt hours per year, and refrigeration accounts for nearly half of that, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.
Those businesses also are prone to significant refrigerant leakage—from two to four thousand pounds a year—emitting environmentally harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common of these gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are 4,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and leading refrigeration systems manufacturer Hillphoenix worked together to develop a supermarket refrigeration system that is more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, and uses less electrical energy. The Second Nature Advansor System, which hit the market in 2014, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent compared to existing systems and lowers energy consumption by 25 percent.
ORNL and Hillphoenix, found solutions to both challenges—the refrigerant leakage and high-global warming potential refrigerants—by using CO2 as the refrigerant and confining it to the refrigeration cycle via a transcritical booster system. Perhaps surprisingly, CO2 is significantly better for the environment than HFCs.
Key to getting the product on the market was the reduction in energy use, which translates to lower utility bills for grocery stores. This combination of lower greenhouse gas emissions and greater energy efficiency has made the Second Nature Advansor System an attractive replacement for older refrigeration systems. As of July 2015, the refrigeration system has already been installed in 75 locations across the United States, after less than a year on the market.
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