Industry experts will discuss the benefits and challenges in transitioning refrigeration equipment from chlorine-based refrigerants to more environmentally friendly hydrocarbon solutions at ATMOsphere America 2013. The natural refrigerants event, which will primarily focus on commercial refrigeration yet also address, will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 18-19. In its second year, ATMOsphere America focuses on technologies, trends and regulatory issues with regard to water, CO2, ammonia, hydrocarbons and air as refrigerants.

Among the companies participating is Tecumseh Products Co., Ann Arbor Mich. Tecumseh will present a case study, where Sidnei Oliveira, Tecumseh global manager of computer-aided analysis, will show early performance results of retrofitting beer and bottle coolers with smaller, more energy efficient compressors and condensing units operating on R290 (propane) as compared to HFC R134a refrigerant.

“The North American market remains one of largely untapped potential when it comes to natural refrigerant technologies,” event organizer Shecco said in a release. “Serving as a forum where industry experts and stakeholders can meet, ATMOsphere America 2013 seeks to provide informative presentations and networking opportunities that will help spur the uptake and spread of these energy saving and long run cost efficient technologies in North America.”

As Tecumseh noted, North America has potential to become a world leader in natural refrigerant technologies. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of hydrocarbons in small commercial refrigeration applications in late-2011, wider adoption still depends on a number of factors. Safe handling of refrigerant and equipment has been a factor in all prior refrigerant transitions.  However, the “A3” classification assigned to HC refrigerants presents a unique challenge, as many building codes currently prevent the use of these refrigerants.  Laws prohibiting refrigerant venting are also a factor when considering the safe handling of HC refrigerants.

“Our customers see the transition to hydrocarbon refrigerants as inevitable and we are supporting them globally through the use of our application expertise and certified labs,” says Jeff Fordeck, Tecumseh North America vice president, sales and marketing.