Case Studies

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USA:  Organised by market development experts Shecco, last weeks ATMOsphere America was reported to be the largest ever.

With over 250 industry experts gathering to discuss the future of natural refrigerants in North America and featuring over 60 presentations, ATMOsphere America 2014 was also reported as being the most well received conference to date.

Big names such as McDonald’s, Red Bull, and The Coca Cola Company demonstrating their ongoing commitment to phasing out the use of harmful green house gases and presented their future strategies, and estimated that between them over 1.5 million pieces of refrigerated equipment have been converted to the use of natural refrigerants to date.

There were also one or two surprise announcements and some fantastic case studies here's an overview of what took place with links to just a few of the presentations.

Click on the images to view or download the full presentations.

Target officially announces shift to CO2 hybrid systems for new stores

Target is officially changing its prototype for new stores from R404A to hybrid cascade R134a/CO2 systems. The announcement was widely praised by ATMOsphere America participants as the new CO2 systems have a carbon footprint 65% lower than systems previously installed.





Red Bull’s 100% natural refrigerant goal

Red Bull confirmed it had placed 457,000 hydrocarbon ECO Coolers globally in the market to date and by switching to R600a has reduced there energy consumption also by 10%.

Red Bull's ECO Cooler which operates using Hydrocarbon R600a received approval by the US EPA in 2013.



McDonald's natural refrigerant equipment and green HVAC opportunities

McDonald's have deployed over 13,000 pieces of natural refrigerant equipment worldwide using R290, R600a and CO2, out of a total of 700,000 units of equipment McDonald’s have operating.

McDonald's installed it's first transcritical CO2/R290 system back in 2003 for it's low and medium temperature refrigerated storage equipment in Vejie, Denmark.




Coca-Cola places 1.1 million CO2 and HC coolers worldwide

Last year Coca-Cola placed 40% more HFC-free cabinets in the market than the previous year.  “To The Coca-Cola Company, HFC-free means natural refrigerants,” said Steven Cousins, Equipment Quality Manager for The Coca-Cola Company. 

Market leader in HFC-free refrigeration, Coca Cola set an ambitious target in 2009 to phase out the use of HFCs in it's cold drink display equipment by 2015. This however is anticipated to take a further 8-years, although they have already placed around 1.1million CO2 and Hydrocarbon units in the market already.



Other presentations of notoriety include: 

Natural Refrigerants, Enhanced Geothermal Heating & Cooling Solutions

The use of R744 also expands the opportunity for geothermal heat pumps according to a presentation by Marc Portnoff, Thar Geothermal, LLC.

Highlighting that R744 allows for a direct exchange design. By and large the R744 direct exchange geothermal heat pump is 30% more efficient than a standard ground source geothermal system, which tends to be 40-60% more efficient than an air side heat pump.



Installing & Maintaining Natural Refrigerant Systems

Senior Director Energy Optimization for Source Refrigeration, Richard Heath emphasises the importance of certification and training.

The presentation highlighted that matching the proper technician with the proper skill level to a refrigeration system provides a beneficial solution for both the customer and the contractor. Stressing the importance of proper training, and the necessity to understand the design installation and operation requirements and develop best practices in order to safely install and maintain natural refrigeration systems.



It appears to be that the framework for a sustainable RACHP industry is becoming very clear throughout the world.

  • The revised EU F-Gas regulations have now been finalised
  • Natural refrigerants are here to stay
  • Use of renewable energy sources are essential to our planet and our own well being
  • Energy efficient systems and products are required to achieve environmental and cost targets
  • There is a need for the development of skills and training

In order for RACHP businesses to be sustainable and operate within this framework they require access to resources, information, expert knowledge and skills.

Businesses now need to engage with alternative solutions, be prepared to share experiences and learn through collaboration with each other. We also have a social responsibility to educate, provide training, knowledge and opportunities for engineers in order to up-skill the industry and provide consumers and end-users with quality products and services.

ATMOspere America appears to have been a huge success and we for one beieve that Shecco are doing a fantastic job in raising awareness and bringing natural refrigeration to the forefront.

You can view all of the presentations at ATMOsphere America 2014 be clicking here

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) OzonAction Branch has published a booklet entitled ‘Low-GWP Alternatives in Commercial Refrigeration: Propane, CO2 and HFO Case Studies’ as part of UNEP’s work programme under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).  

The publication is the first in a series featuring case studies on alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), providing information on energy efficient, zero to low-GWP alternatives - intended to assist relevant decision makers, especially those in developing countries, in selecting the most appropriate climate-friendly alternatives.

The studies cover a cross-section of low-GWP applications being adopted by supermarkets around the globe, from C02 transcritical and secondary cascade systems, and the adoption of low flammable refrigerant and HFO alternatives. They go on to cover the valuable lessons learned to enable a smooth transition away from high-GWP refrigerants and assist in selections of future refrigerants.

The case studies include the type of facility, a background to the project, type of system,  installation and refrigerant adopted, along with the challenges that were presented, system performance - advantages and disadvantages. 

Case studies included within this first publication include;

CarrefourSA Express, Kurtköy, Turkey

Transition from HFC R404A to a CO2 transcritical system - download

Sobeys (IGA), Cookshirein, Quebec, Canada

​New CO2 transcritical system – download

​​Verdemar, Nova Lima, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

​New CO2 cascade system using R-134a as primary circuit – download

Waitrose, Bromley, Kent, United Kingdom

​HFO R-1234ze chiller plant system – download

H-E-B, Mueller, Austin, Texas, United States

​Propane (R-290) self-contained integral case installation – download

To download the full publication click here

The CCAC recently launched a transformative initiative, entitled ‘The HFC Initiative, Promoting HFC Alternative Technology and Standards’ – it’s objectives being to:

  • Encourage the uptake of climate-friendly alternatives that could support national, regional and global policies or approaches to reduce reliance on high-GWP HFCs;
  • Overcome barriers that limit the widespread introduction of these climate friendly technologies, including those related to the establishment of standards; and
  • Encourage the responsible management of existing equipment and better designs for future equipment in order to minimize leaks.

Source : United Nations Environment Programme, 2014

About CCAC

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short- Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) is a unique global effort supporting fast actions to mitigate the impacts of short lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and addressing near-term climate change and air pollution at the same time. The CCAC is a voluntary partnership bringing together over 36 country and Regional Economic Integration Organization (REIO) partners and 44 non-state partners including intergovernmental organisations, representatives of civil society and the private sector. 

More than 200 HVAC&R industry experts gathered at the 5th annual ATMOsphere Europe 2013 conference with the main theme being “Natural Refrigerants”-Solutions for Europe”.

View Danfoss Dream Solution for a supermarket concept case- Presentation from ATMOsphere Europe here.

ATMOsphere Europe 13 consisted of a series of interactive workshops bringing together decision makers from industry and government to change the future of natural refrigerants.  This presentation was delivered by Torben Funder-Kristensen, Head of Public Industry Affairs at Danfoss. The presentation focuses on a project recently implemented at a grocery store in Norway. One CO2 compressor takes care of all the temperature generation, both cold and warm. Utilising the heat from the refrigeration system rather than electricity, it also melts the snow around the store. Overall, the goal of the project is to obtain between 30% - 50% energy savings in the systems.


The Presentation covered:

  • The project and the facts about the case
  • A description of the store refrigeration & HVAC system build up
  • Why CO2
  • The controls used in the concept
  • Actual status
  • Conclusion and next steps


  • An advanced energy integrated supermarket installation has been realised within the CREATIV project in Trondheim, Norway.
  • The energy sub -systems are interconnected and controlled to minimize the entire power consumption of the supermarket building.
  • Danfoss controllers manage & optimise:
    • Operation of the refrigeration system
    • Heat storage devices
    • Air Handling Unit
    • Heating systems
  • Besides being a show case for the Industry this system will be used to test and develop new advanced controls

Many case study sessions that focus on cutting-edge natural refrigerant technologies and projects in the areas of industrial, commercial and transport refrigeration as well as heat pumps and air-conditioning were included at the ATMOsphere Europe 2013 Conference.

The full range of presentations from ATMOsphere Europe can be found on



Speaking at the ATMOsphere Europe 2013 Conference held in Brussels last week John Skelton F.Inst.R., Head of Refrigeration at Sainsbury’s, outlined the Company’s progress with regard to the installation of environmentally friendly RACHP technologies within their stores.
This includes:

167 CO2 refrigeration installations

17 LED lighting installations

78 Biomass boilers

12 Closed Loop Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

129,000 Solar panels

25% of Petrol Station energy from solar photovoltaic panels (PV)

These initiatives form part of Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan of which ‘Respect for our environment’ is a key objective.

John Skelton joined Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited as an apprentice in 1984. He has spent his career in retail refrigeration working for and on behalf of various UK food retailers. He has been instrumental in reducing Sainsbury’s carbon footprint and the step change to CO2 refrigeration. John has delivered CO2 to over 160 stores and continues to champion the switch to natural refrigerant solutions.

The presentation can be viewed here:

ATMOsphere presentation

In the first Fridgehub article on the subject of Geothermal/Ground Source Heat Pumps (18th September 2013) we outlined Sainsbury’s initiative to use this innovative technology to tap renewable energy from deep underground to provide energy efficient heating, hot water and cooling in a growing number of their supermarkets.

Fridgehub are privileged to have been granted permission by the Institute of Refrigeration to publish a case study written by John Skelton entitled “Closed Loop Geothermal Heating and Cooling for Supermarkets”.

In his introduction to the case study the author states that “The development of a closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system provided the ideal vehicle for Sainsbury’s to manage a store’s total carbon emissions whilst driving operational excellence”.

The case study describes the installation and energy performance of the integrated solution at Sainsbury’s store at Crayford, South East London (their first 100,000 sq. /ft. store)”.

Crayford was selected as a trial ‘carbon step change store’ as part of the Sainsbury’s business challenge to develop a lower carbon operational model. During 2010 the store’s sales area was being extended from 35,000 sq. /ft. to over 100,000 sq. /ft. and the challenge was set to achieve a zero absolute increase in the original store’s operational carbon footprint. An integrated geothermal system was selected to harness normally wasted store energy and to use it efficiently across the refrigeration and heating systems.

A key feature of this solution was that it required all of the delivery teams to change their normal ways of working from a design, installation and commissioning perspective. It was essential that the supply base drove the specification and worked collaboratively. In particular the collaboration between the disciplines of Refrigeration and Mechanical & Electrical engineering was critical to a successful outcome.

The system incorporates a primary circuit closed loop borehole system which provides access to the geothermal storage capacity of subsurface geology, adapting technology from the oil and gas drilling industry to utilise 15 x 200m deep boreholes.

The primary circuit which links the below ground boreholes to the refrigeration packs and the store heat pumps is filled with a glycol-water mix which exchanges geothermal energy due to the temperature differential with the surrounding geology. Due to the natural, relatively cool temperature of the ground a good condensing or cooling medium is delivered to the store’s refrigeration packs and heat pumps.

A secondary circuit delivers the store heating functions from the heat pumps, the performance of which is assisted by the rejected heat from the refrigeration packs.

The refrigeration packs are ‘standard’ Sainsbury’s CO2 with the addition of water to refrigerant heat exchangers in the refrigeration discharge circuit.

The heat pumps are fitted with water to refrigerant heat exchangers. The evaporator is supplied with the glycol-water mix from the borehole circuit, providing low grade heat. The condenser is connected to the store heating and hot water system and high quality heat produced by the compressors is rejected into a standard water-based circuit within the store which has enabled the requirement for natural gas to be discontinued.

Each of the working systems are sub-metered and monitored utilising the Sainsbury’s standard web-based system which enables both historical and cross-store comparisons. To ensure accuracy BSRIA were employed to check all of the monitoring points and calibrate and verify them, as well as to check the reporting/calculation methodology.

The first full year’s operation at Crayford delivered approximately a 55% energy saving in heating and refrigeration against an agreed benchmark for a like-sized store utilising standard systems (i.e. air-cooled CO2 refrigeration packs and gas boilers for heating).

The installation demonstrates that there are tangible benefits from considering a building’s carbon emissions as a ‘whole’ and ensuring the different engineering disciplines work together to reduce direct and indirect emissions, highlighting Sainsbury’s collaborative supplier philosophy.  The Closed Loop Geothermal Heating and Cooling system at Crayford has delivered significant savings in refrigeration energy consumption, as well as a highly efficient ground source heating system to the store.

From the outset, this design concept was intended to be both sustainable and replicable, and as a result of the experience at Crayford the systems has now been implemented in an additional 11 Sainsbury’s stores during the past 3 years making a significant contribution to their 20 by 20 target of a 30% reduction in absolute operational carbon emissions by 2020 versus a baseline of 2005.

The IoR article can be viewed here:

Closed loop refrigeration


  • ATMOsphere European Conference 2013
  • John Skelton F.Inst.R
  • The Institute of Refrigeration

Many case study sessions that focus on cutting-edge natural refrigerant technologies and projects in the areas of industrial, commercial and transport refrigeration as well as heat pumps and air-conditioning were included at the ATMOsphere Europe 2013 Conference.

The full range of presentations from ATMOsphere Europe can be found on