The energy demands of commercial refrigeration in Florida often encourage the industry to investigate refrigerant alternatives. One option currently under scrutiny is CO2. Once a primary refrigerant nearly 90 years ago, it is making a comeback since current technology can use it more efficiently. If you are considering an upgrade, here are five advantages CO2 offers as a refrigerant:
- Its properties match up: When analysis is based on pure thermodynamics, it appears that CO2 would make a very poor refrigerant. However, its other unique properties make it perfect. It has a low heat-transfer coefficient and it is less vulnerable to sudden pressure losses, which can prove nearly fatal with other refrigerants. It also offers a low viscosity, meaning your refrigeration system will suffer less cooling loss. These elements work together to make CO2 a very high-performing refrigerant, despite its chemical makeup suggesting otherwise.
- Good energy retention: CO2 retains more heat and energy than other refrigerants. In fact, the heat can be reclaimed to run water sanitation systems and other applications frequently used in food service. With finely tuned independent systems running your operations, you could experience lower utility costs. If you are considering CO2 for your commercial refrigeration, you may also want to look into upgrading other systems at the same time.
- High pressure tolerance: CO2 is already a high pressure refrigerant, so if your needs require higher operating pressures, this is likely the option for you. This can also be useful if sudden temperature changes cause pressure to vary. That will test less resilient refrigerants, but CO2 will remain steady through these changes. The only trick is to prevent the production of dry ice by installing the appropriate venting. Fortunately, that is an easy installation for most commercial refrigeration systems.
- Less material interaction: Common metals and the new materials that currently make up commercial refrigeration units will not cause adverse reactions with CO2. Precautions may be required with rubber seals, but there are ways to work around that. However, the newest developments that use Teflon, PEEK or neoprene will withstand CO2 quite easily.
- Cost efficiency: The price of CO2 itself is low. It is a byproduct of several industries, meaning you will have no problem finding a supplier who wants to offload it for a low price. Unfortunately, the installation of CO2 systems can be more expensive than conventional systems, depending on the features your business requires. However, this investment will often pay for itself with low material costs and reduced utilities.
CO2 is frequently used with ammonia, depending on the system. It is a common development in food and retail refrigeration, cold transport and heat pumps. Developments make it likely that this will be the primary refrigerant choice in industrial applications.
For state of the art commercial refrigeration in Florida based on the latest developments in the industry, contact 5 Star Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc. We can repair or maintain your current CO2 system or offer candid advice on whether this option is right for your business.