The Food Retail Panel at ATMOsphere Europe 2015 emphasised retailers’ focus on sustainability via environmentally friendly refrigeration strategies. Building on the case study presentations detailing technologies such as parallel compression, adiabatic cooling and ejectors, the Food Retail Panel gave retailers to opportunity to share first results on the implementation of these new components in warm ambient climates.

Carrefour tests southern waters as CO2 technology overcomes efficiency barriers

Jean Michel Fleury, Director International Support at Carrefour opened the panel with the organisation’s commitment to being a responsible retailer. The Group has set a particularly ambitious goal to reduce its CO2 emissions in Belgium, France, Italy and Spain by 40% by 2020 compared to 2009 levels and to reduce its energy consumption by 30% per square meter of store sales area by 2020 compared to 2004 levels. For Carrefour, a major aspect of achieving these lofty objectives is ensuring responsible and sustainable refrigeration practices. Ultimately, the Group would like all of its operations to run completely HFC-free. Using natural refrigerants is a clear choice for Carrefour, Fleury noted, stating the use of clean and efficient technology assures the avoidance of a “trap” that could be set by future refrigerant regulation.

Carrefour began its move to implement natural refrigerant solutions with a CO2 cascade system in 2009 and is now gradually deploying 100% CO2 transcritical systems. The retailer has put a special importance on research and development as well as sharing knowledge and best practices; Fleury emphasised the viability of CO2 transcritical solutions for warm climates, mentioning in particular two pilot Carrefour stores in Valencia, Spain. 

A pilot hypermarket in Alzira launched in 2013 using parallel compression has achieved 13% net savings, while another launched in 2014 in Castellon that combines parallel compression with an ejector promises even higher savings. The success of these two projects so far has prompted plans to expand the use of the optimised CO2 technology to the south of France, Italy and Brazil.

CO2 transcritical pilot yields promising results for Auchan Super Spain

Gabriel Romero, Technical Director, Auchan Super Spain, presented a pilot CO2 transcritical booster system installation at a Simply supermarket in Bilbao, Spain, where the average maximum ambient temperature is 26°C and the average minimum temperature is 4°C. According to Romero, a major factor in opting for natural-refrigerant-based solutions is the Spanish tax on high GWP refrigerants. The retailer analysed the high GWP gases at its existing installations, calculating a potential risk of more than €3,000,000 in f-gas taxes. 

The technology piloted is an EPTA ECO2 Small power rack transcritical booster system integrating refrigeration and air conditioning as a completely green solution. The air conditioning is integrated by a direct expansion (DX) system of CO2. During winter, the system is able to recover enough heat to maintain a comfortable inside temperature. The store in Bilbao also incorporates an adiabatic cooling system to improve overall efficiency and to reduce the operating temperature of the gas cooler by first cooling down the ambient air. Consequently, the system operating pressures are reduced as well, from 107 bar to 70 bar, resulting in reduced electricity usage of the system. In terms of energy performance, the CO2 performs similarly or better than systems in similar supermarkets. 

We have concluded that CO2 transcritical systems are a viable option in temperate climates, and we are exploring the possibility of introducing it in warmer climates,” said Romero.

SONAE to continue with CO2 cascade; still on the look-out for best R134a alterative

SONAE MC’s Amad Hafez presented the company’s efforts to minimise its negative environmental impacts, with particular regard to extinguishing its use of R22 and finding alternatives to R404A. Hafez returned as a speaker at ATMOsphere Europe to share the experiences SONAE has had with its use of CO2 cascade systems. Today, the retailer has in operation 13 stores using CO2 cascade systems, two of which are “100% green” using CO2/NH3 refrigeration systems. At this stage, SONAE is evaluating the performance of these stores to decide the direction its greening strategy will take. The results so far reveal that for SONAE, the CO2/NH3 systems consume similar amounts of energy to HFC systems; while the low temperature side shows promising results, the medium temperature side actually consumes more energy. Naturally the retailer is looking to deploy systems that provide higher energy savings at both the low and medium temperature levels. According to Hafez, the retailer plans to continue rolling out CO2 cascade stores, though it is hoping to find a better alternative to R134a. 


Jean Michel Fleury: Refrigeration natural refrigeration current status
Gabriel Romero: Simply Gordoniz Bilbao (Spain) CO2 transcritical booster
Amad Hafez: SONAE’S experience with sub-critical systems
ATMOsphere Europe 2015 event website

Author Elke Milner