Gerard von Dohlen, president of Newark Refrigerated Warehouse, Newark, N.J., plans to install what may be the first cold-storage refrigeration system to employ propane as its primary refrigerant.
Von Dohlen is applying to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for permission to use propane for refrigeration under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.
The system, which he would like to install 12-24 months from now, will serve his two existing buildings and an additional building that will begin construction when the new refrigeration system start operation, he said.
Von Dohlen originally planned to replace the R22 currently used at his facility with low-charge ammonia systems. However, that idea fell through after the state of New Jersey abandoned a plan to relax its stringent requirements for ammonia operations. He then considered using R32 as a primary refrigerant, but decided on propane because of impending regulatory pressures on HFCs.
“The EPA made it clear again that it intends to phase out f-gases at least for refrigeration by 2030 at a meeting with the IARW,” von Dohlen said.
If approved, the propane system will contain 1,100 pounds of propane, which will be confined to a small one-story engine room attached to one of his two cold-storage buildings. Von Dohlen’s original building has 12 freezer rooms and four medium temperature rooms, with a total capacity of 250 TR; his second building has one freezer room with a 300 TR capacity.
To ensure safe operation with a flammable refrigerant, the engine room will be IIAR-2 compliant with fully automated controls, and all electrical panels will be located outside the room. “We are eliminating any potential source of ignition,” said von Dohlen.
The propane will be used to cool a calcium chloride brine solution, which will serve as a secondary refrigerant; the brine, in turn will be pumped into a Kathabar conditioner where it will cool air from the refrigerated spaces; the cool air will then be blown back into the refrigerated spaces. The brine will also serve as a desiccant and disinfectant for the refrigerated air.