By transitioning its lineup of commercial refrigerators and freezers to propane (R290), Georgia (U.S.)-based manufacturer Hoshizaki America has reduced the energy consumption of its equipment by an average of 11%, according to a recent presentation from the company’s Director of Engineering, David Sellers.

Sellers also detailed that the switch to R290 reduced the CO2e emissions of Hoshizaki’s refrigeration units, which are used in the foodservice industry, by an average of 21%. These savings are a result of reduced direct emissions from the refrigerant, which has a GWP of less than one, and lower indirect emissions from improved energy efficiency, he explained.

The presentation was delivered by Sellers during a refrigeration case studies session at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2022 on natural refrigerants. The conference, which took place June 7–8 in Alexandria, Virginia, was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

Sellers presented at ATMO America alongside John Dowd II, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Diversified CPC, the only manufacturer of UL-classified hydrocarbon refrigerants in the U.S., the company said. Diversified CPC produces the R290 used by Hoshizaki America in its refrigerators and freezers.

According to Dowd, the high-purity of the company’s R290 “has a direct impact on the electrical consumption and the reliability of these units.”

The benefits of R290

As Hoshizaki America started its journey to natural refrigerants, it researched several options, according to Sellers.

“Each one of them had tradeoffs that we had to consider, such as system cost, performance, flammability and charge limits,” he explained. “In the end, we wanted to make sure the refrigerant we decided on for the future was going to be a long-term solution, so we focused on R290 as our refrigerant of choice.”

“In the end, we wanted to make sure the refrigerant we decided on for the future was going to be a long-term solution, so we focused on R290 as our refrigerant of choice.”

David Sellers, Hoshizaki America

R290 appealed to Hoshizaki for its environmental advantages – that it’s non-toxic, low GWP and energy efficient – as well as for being easy to service and able to improve the performance and reliability of equipment, Sellers said.

The biggest hurdle for Hoshizaki to overcome was the “flammability issue,” he said.

‘Education is key’

To overcome R290’s flammability issue, Hoshizaki prioritized education both within the business and with external stakeholders, such as local fire marshals. The manufacturer’s education and training efforts looked at the entire supply chain – from the factory to equipment and refrigerant disposal at end-of-life – as well as regulations.

“Education is key, from the corporate decision makers to the technicians who service our equipment,” Sellers said. “We want to make sure that we are looking at training throughout all levels of how the product is used.”

The manufacturer works with training organization RSES on its training and certification.

Hoshizaki also reached out to experienced and trusted partners to improve its knowledge on R290 and to learn how it might affect its operations.

“We partnered with [our sister companies in Europe] to understand how they design units and how their factory is set up,” explained Sellers. “Safety was key to us, so we brought partners on board who knew the changes that were going to be required in our factory.”

Committing to sustainability

Sustainability is a priority for Hoshizaki, according to Sellers, with an emphasis on long-term decision making.

“We want to look beyond today’s requirements,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that this choice of ours was going to be sustainable in the long run and that we weren’t doing this again.”

Hoshizaki America efforts have been recognized, as it has won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Partner of the Year award for 11 consecutive years and is the first and only foodservice equipment manufacturer to receive ISO-14001 certification.

“Hoshizaki is proud of the awards and certifications that we received due to this project and others, because it shows our commitment to having our environmental impact measured and improved,” Sellers said.

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