Commonly used hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) are extremely potent greenhouse gases growing faster than any other greenhouse gas on the planet. They trap heat in the atmosphere at thousands of times the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Natural refrigerants, which include CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons, have zero or near-zero global warming potential (GWP), making them a climate-friendly, future-proof alternative to HFCs. However, unique market challenges — such as upfront cost premiums, service readiness, and technology availability — have prevented the widescale adoption of natural refrigerants in US supermarkets.
The climate impact of HFCs has sparked a global transition away from legacy refrigerants. In Europe, for example, stringent regulations have accelerated the phase-out of HFCs, and natural refrigerants are becoming the new standard.
In the US, new regulatory pressures at the state and federal levels are beginning to drive the transition away from HFCs as well. The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase down production and consumption of HFCs in the United States by 85% by 2036, mirroring the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The AIM Act also facilitates the transition to next-generation refrigeration technologies and establishes requirements for the management and reclamation of refrigerants.
Some states have enacted restrictions on HFCs that go beyond these federal requirements. California has introduced stringent regulations that will require the use of refrigerants with a GWP of less than 150 in new stores, as well as the reduction of GWP use in existing stores by 2030. Washington and New York are also establishing more stringent regulations that go beyond federal rules.
As a result, US food retailers are seeking technology solutions that support their efforts to transition to natural refrigerants.
Viessmann Refrigeration Solutions, with global headquarters in Germany, is bringing its natural refrigeration technology solutions to the US market for the first time. It has demonstrated a strong commitment to natural refrigerants, with systems that use CO2 and propane, for example. The company’s Tecto product portfolio includes remote and plug-in refrigeration cabinets, walk-in refrigerators and coolers, and refrigeration systems and accessories.
By introducing its products in the US, Viessmann will expand the technology options for food retailers and help support their efforts to shift away from HFCs.