Exploring the Impact of Refrigeration on World Refrigeration Day

In Articles by Elizabeth OrtliebLeave a Comment

Refrigeration and modernity are so closely intertwined. In fact, refrigeration is the backdrop of our daily lives, though often overlooked and under-appreciated. It’s essential to food, health, business, employment… It’s almost ubiquitous.

That’s why the refrigeration industry is rallying around the first annual World Refrigeration Day on June 26, 2019, an international awareness campaign meant to recognize the important role that the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump sectors play for society.

As you may already know, at Bacharach, it’s in our mission to make refrigeration safer, cleaner and more energy efficient. As such, we believe it’s important to take a moment to discuss the impact of refrigeration; celebrate all that it makes possible; and address the challenges it presents in this article. Let’s get started.

Refrigeration: Essential to Modern Life

You may maintain, service, repair, or use refrigeration appliances, but have you ever taken a step back, paused for a moment, and thought about just how much you rely on refrigeration in your day-to-day life?

Indeed, refrigeration is fundamental to business, health, food, comfortable living—It’s one of the pillars of modernity.

Just think of the numerous, various and wide-spread applications that rely on refrigeration: homes, supermarkets, ice rinks, health care facilities, manufacturing plants, and scientific projects.

3 Billion Systems in Use Worldwide

According to the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR)’s Informatory Note 29, The Role of Refrigeration in the Global Economy, there’s an estimated 3 billion refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump systems in use worldwide.

The point is, refrigeration is everywhere, and it’s almost unfathomable to imagine life without it. There’s no denying refrigeration makes the convenience of modernity possible.

Demand for Cooling Rapidly Increasing

However, this convenience comes at a major cost to the environment and to the grid. That is, refrigeration impacts the environment through refrigerant leakage and the grid through electricity consumption.

What complicates this even more is the fact that the demand for cooling is rapidly increasing worldwide.

For instance, according to SEforALL’s Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All, around 1.1 billion people have cooling access risks (i.e., where electricity is nonexistent, intermittent or unaffordable) and another 2.3 billion are a part of the affluent lower-middle class in developing countries,” who are about to purchase the most affordable but least efficient air conditioners.

In other words, the global cooling demand is being fueled by the unserved and underserved, and, as a result, we all must recognize the importance of refrigeration to solve the problems that are intensifying dramatically.

Environmental Impact

First, refrigeration equipment impacts the environment through refrigerant leakage, or what is called direct emissions. That’s because the most common refrigerants in use—CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs—have environmentally harmful properties, such as ozone-depleting potential (ODP) and / or global warming potential (GWP).

In essence, if these refrigerants leak, it harms the atmosphere. Interestingly, Project Drawdown, which lists refrigerant management as the #1 solution to global warming states, “90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life.”

Thus, such refrigerant emissions must be avoided, and proper handling of refrigerants, like safe recovery with Bacharach’s ECO-2020 refrigerant recovery unit, must be exercised. There is also opportunity to reduce this environmental impact by transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants; however, bear in mind there is no “ideal” refrigerant.

Energy Impact

Second, refrigeration equipment uses electricity to operate, and such electricity consumption can be increased by numerous factors, like improper refrigerant charge. This is the indirect emissions part. For instance, the U.S. EPA states, “Refrigerant leaks are not just an emissions problem: Incorrect refrigerant levels can compromise efficiency by 5 to 20 percent and raise the risk of early component failure.”

The more a system leaks refrigerant, the greater the energy costs; additionally, this relationship between annual electricity running costs and refrigerant leakage is a non-linear one.

As you can see, reducing the energy consumption of cooling equipment is just as important as reducing the environmental impact. Consider the fact that “328 million Americans consume approximately the same amount of electricity for air conditioning alone than the total electricity used for all needs by 1.1 billion people in Africa.”

With all this in mind, it’s crucial for you to employ HVAC-R best practices and have the right instrumentation throughout the lifecycle of your equipment—from install to service, repair to shutdown—and that’s what we are here for.

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Challenges Present Opportunities to Better HVAC-R Industry

While the HVAC-R industry faces numerous challenges today (further complicated by the HFC phase down and new generation of refrigerants), there is reason to celebrate if we work together. In fact, we had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Gill, the Head of Secretariat of World Refrigeration Day and former IOR President, and ask him what he thinks the what the biggest challenge that the refrigeration industry faces in the next ten years.

While he touched upon the energy and environmental impact discussed above, he also pointed to an even larger challenge—that is, “one of inertia.”

Indeed, “The biggest challenge facing our industry in the next ten years is how we work together in a collective way rather than in an individualistic one … We need to be reminded of the purpose we exist as an industry and technology and become more outward looking, rather than always responding to call for change that may not be the best informed,” states Gill. 

“The biggest challenge facing our industry in the next ten years is how we work together in a collective way rather than in an individualistic one.”Stephen Gill, Founder of World Refrigeration Day

This quotation encapsulates the spirit of World Refrigeration; there is a need for the HVAC-R industry to work together and employ sustainable solutions for the long-term.

As a global leader, employing professionals worldwide with facilities located around the globe, Bacharach is committed to working together and helping our customers increase productivity, enhance efficiency, and reduce costs, while protecting lives and the environment.

Bacharach Celebrates World Refrigeration Day

Now that we’ve explored the impact of refrigeration, we would like to take a moment to truly celebrate this day.

That’s why we asked our team members around the globe to send us photos of them celebrating today. Because, what would the world be without refrigeration? Check out the gallery below for highlights of our celebration:

It’s all a part of #BacharachLife! From our team to yours, happy World Refrigeration Day!

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How are you celebrating World Refrigeration Day? Let us know in the comments below.

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