CO2 in vending machines SNAP approved

By Klara Skačanová, Aug 10, 2012, 15:57 2 minute reading

The most recent EPA’s list of substitutes in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program includes an approval for using CO2 in new vending machines, making it the first acceptable natural refrigerant in this product category.

“EPA finds carbon dioxide (CO2 or R-744) acceptable as a substitute for CFC-12, HCFC-22 and blends containing HCFC-22 and/or HCFC–142b, and R-502 for use in new equipment in vending machines,” reads the EPA’s decision effective as of 10 August 2012.

This decision makes CO2 the first natural refrigerant accepted as an alternative for new vending machines in the US. Recently the EPA also authorised the hydrocarbon R441A for vending machines, however the use conditions have not been defined yet, creating a large uncertainty for end-users and manufacturers for switching to this refrigerant. Nevertheless, with the new SNAP approval for CO2 end-users can now move ahead to more sustainable cooling for their vending machines.

Assessment of health and environmental risks

Prior to approving R744 as a suitable alternative substitute in vending machines, the EPA had assessed its health and environmental risks in a Risk Screen analysis. To protect against potential health risks, CO2 has an 8 hour/day, 40 hour/week permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 5000 ppm in the workplace required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a 15-minute recommended short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 30,000 ppm established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Based on the Risk Screen analysis, the EPA recommends that users:
  • Install vending machines using CO2 in well-ventilated spaces and avoid confined spaces with poor ventilation;
  • Follow other requirements and specifications in the material safety data sheet (MSDS), in American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 15, and other safety precautions common in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry;
  • Adhere to OSHA’s PEL and NIOSH’s STEL

CO2 in vending machines to become mainstream

The Coca-Cola Company that had submitted an R744 vending machine SNAP application to the EPA has been one of the main drivers in accelerating the move towards HFC-free cooling, paving the way in this direction also for other beverage producers in the US. The company had already previously notified all beverage vending machine manufacturers that once CO2 for vending machines is SNAP approved, Coca-Cola will only purchase machines using the CO2 refrigerant.

While natural refrigerant vending machines are already largely used by all major beverage companies in Japan and their market share is increasing in Europe, the new SNAP approval will now pave the way for a wide rollout of CO2 vending machines in the US market.


By Klara Skačanová

Aug 10, 2012, 15:57

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