Institutional Affairs Manager, Epta
The Life-C4R project of the Epta group has been concluded and will be key in accelerating the implementation of very high-efficiency CO2 commercial refrigeration systems in the European market. FTE2.0 (Full Transcritical Efficiency) and ETE (Extreme Temperature Efficiency) technologies proved their capability to combat climate change by replacing HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) greenhouse refrigerants with CO2 refrigerant additionally providing a substantial energy saving in any country, with any external temperature and further maintenance cost savings, all in a very simple system design.
Context and objectives of the project
The HFC refrigerants in commercial refrigerators, air conditioners and heat pumps contribute to the current climate crisis.
Considering that the Paris Agreement, which engages 200 countries, aims at maintaining the temperature increase within 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C (compared to pre-industrial levels), it is clear that the 0.5 °C temperature reduction possible simply by eliminating the use of HFCs represents an important contribution to the global mitigation efforts.
The European Union aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from HFCs by 80 per cent by 2030 and tracks the progress towards this goal.
Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the refrigeration sector is today more than ever considered the epochal challenge that, on the other hand, offers important opportunities for sustainable technologies that effectively act to fight climate change.
The Life-C4R project was created to accelerate the deployment of high-efficiency refrigeration systems based on R744/CO2 refrigerant, a natural non-toxic and non-flammable refrigerant, ensuring energy savings of more than 10 per cent in any country and with any climate, and reduced installation and maintenance costs by up to 30 per cent.
The Life-C4R started with a preliminary phase of industrial design and development of the refrigeration technologies based on performance tests and fine-tuning performed by Epta in its laboratories in Limana (BL) in Italy.
The Life-C4R technologies are:
- FTE2.0 (Full Transcritical Efficiency)
A device that allows elimination of the superheat, thus increasing the evaporation temperature in the MT cabinets evaporators (fresh food products), obtaining a considerable reduction in the energy consumption of the cooling power rack.
- ETE (Extreme Temperature Efficiency)
A sub-cooler using natural refrigerant CO2 integrated into the refrigeration system, extending the range of use of the CO2 system in the hot climates and with temperatures above 40 °C.
The Life-C4R technologies have been implemented in seven food retail stores in Italy, Romania and Spain.
These pilot installations were important in proving the reliability, performance and energy consumption of the C4R system in different conditions:
- Store surface, from 1000 to 6000 sqm
- Climatic conditions, from mild to extremely hot temperatures
- Different countries and with different habits, knowledge, skills, etc.
Data and results
The pilot projects were observed over more than a full year and aimed to verify the reliability and measure performance operation and consumption in all seasons. The pilots clearly show that the Life-C4R technologies guarantee a reduction in energy consumption ranging from 15 per cent to 23 per cent on an annual basis—much higher than initially expected.
The key outcome of the pilot store trials is that the Life-C4R technologies using CO2 natural refrigerant always guarantee very efficient operation regardless of the outside temperature.
The data acquired from the seven pilot stores allowed to build a model to predict the behaviour of the FTE2.0 and ETE systems in any other condition. A computational analysis tool has been created to give precise estimations to be used in sales and marketing activities.
The LCCP analysis
To monitor and evaluate the global carbon footprint of these innovative CO2 solutions, Epta performed a full life cycle analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of Life-C4R technologies according to the standards of LCCP (Life Cycle Climate Performance).
LCCP is a method that allows precise calculation of the overall carbon footprint of the system during its entire useful life “from cradle to grave” considering:
- a) direct emissions deriving from the loss of refrigerants into the atmosphere during the operation and disposal of the equipment;
- b) indirect emissions of greenhouse gases in relation to the production of electricity that powers the equipment;
- c) incorporated emissions, related to the processes of production, transport and end-of-life disposal of all materials, the equipment and the refrigerant.
The analysis shows that the use of Life-C4R technologies can cut CO2 emissions globally by up to 20 per cent.
In particular, it has been observed that the impact of the refrigerant is practically zero, and most of the impacts originate from the energy consumption of the system, which is very positive as most of the electricity will be produced from renewable sources in the future.
Communication and networking activities
In the spirit of the LIFE programme, an extensive communication activity has been performed to disseminate the Life-C4R technical solutions and their environmental implications to the wider public of professionals and ordinary people, international organisations, various stakeholders, the academic world, policymakers and the general public, through numerous public events, fairs, conferences, seminars, networking and professional training meetings, promoting and supporting the massive use of natural refrigerants to achieve significant energy savings and to combat climate change.
Furthermore, a process of global involvement and interest has been initiated worldwide to favour a wide diffusion and rapid adoption of Life-C4R technologies after the end of the project.
Thanks to the Life-C4R project, FTE2.0 and ETE today are perceived as the most sustainable, advantageous and economic technologies in the commercial refrigeration sector.
Environmental and policy implications
The greenhouse emissions from HFCs still continue to have a considerable share in the global picture in Europe because of the consumption of HFCs with very high GWP (global warming potential) for the maintenance of existing supermarkets and hypermarkets that are continuously dispersing a lot of refrigerant into the environment due to the leakages in operation.
Highly efficient sustainable technologies such as Life-C4R offer the possibility to initiate a structural programme of existing store retrofits, to replace the highly climate-impacting commercial refrigeration systems with new systems equipped with modern technologies, aligning this sector to the objectives of climate neutrality by 2050.
Replacing an HFC system with natural refrigerant CO2 means reducing the direct greenhouse effect up to 4000 times and obtaining a significant energy upgrade with a consequent reduction in the system’s energy consumption.
Additionally, the Life-C4R political implications at the European level involve the F-Gas Regulation (EU 517/2014) review, which will increase its ambitions in response to the climate crisis, defining a long-term sustainable scenario that hopefully will foresee the exclusive use of the lowest GWP refrigerants for the new equipment and for the maintenance of existing installations.
Carbon 4 Retail Refrigeration (C4R)
The Life-C4R project is an international marketing project that, thanks to Epta’s Full Transcritical Efficiency (FTE) and Extreme Temperature Efficiency (ETE) systems, will substantially contribute to replacing HCFC and HFC greenhouse refrigerants with CO2 in commercial refrigeration in a very simple, efficient and reliable way in any country, with any external temperature, allowing 10 per cent energy and 30 per cent installation and maintenance savings.
Epta is a multinational group specialising in commercial refrigeration that operates worldwide, helping its customers reach excellent performances in the Retail, Ho.Re.Ca and food and beverage sectors.
Epta Iberia is specialised in the commercialisation of Epta products and the engineering, installation and commissioning of retailers refrigerated sites.
DAAS is an engineering, maintenance and project management company that provides turnkey projects for commercial retail, industrial and Ho.Re.Ca. sectors.
PROJECT LEAD PROFILE
Epta combines a solid industrial culture, great competitive and innovative strength and a significant presence worldwide. The group offers the widest and most comprehensive range of solutions for commercial refrigeration, ensuring the supply, installation and maintenance of systems. Epta also has a strong presence within the food and beverage market, working in partnership with major players in the sector.
Institutional Affairs Manager
Via degli Alpini, 14 , 32020 Limana (BL), Italy.
+39 043 79 681
The LIFE-C4R project has received funding from the LIFE programme of the European Union under grant agreement No. LIFE17 CCM/IT/000120.
Figure 1: Transcritical CO2 power rack for medium-large stores with incorporated FTE2.0 and ETE.
Figure 2: Food retail stores equipped with the C4R technologies in the LIFE-C4R project.
Figure 3: Annual energy consumption (MWh/year) of the pilot stores with (green) and without (red) Life-C4R technologies.
Figure 4: Energy savings in the Life-C4R pilot stores (kWh/year).
Figure 5: CO2 emissions of the pilot stores with (green) and without (white) Life-C4R technologies (kg CO2eq per kWh).
Figure 6: CO2 emissions of the pilot stores for each phase of the system (kg CO2eq per kWh).