In August 2015, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan – the first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, setting us on a course toward a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution by the year 2030.
The key point of this plan is the reduction of industrial emissions by the factories billowing greenhouse gases up their smokestacks. However, closer examination reveals the Clean Power Plan also spotlights other industrial climate offenses, particularly the use of materials with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP), which includes the use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by the refrigeration and cooling industry.
How can Phononic’s Innovative Technology Help The Clean Power Plan succeed?
Commitment from private sector is key to the success of this initiative: Phononic is a leading participant in the Clean Power Plan, designing refrigeration solutions to meet and further the initiative with innovative technology that will radically improve not just refrigeration but to the entire cooling industry. Phononic’s product, Evolve™ refrigeration eliminated the use of both HFCs and vapor compression.
The Problem with Refrigerants
Refrigerants (gases used in vapor-compression refrigeration systems used through the early 1900s) were initially ammonia and ether. Vapor compression systems are notoriously prone to leakages, and leaks occurring with these early gases were so noxious and toxic they killed people.
This problem prompted the quest for safer refrigerants, and around 1920, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were synthesized and introduced as miraculous, non-toxic replacements to these early refrigerants. CFCs were used heavily until the 1970s, when it became clear they were a major culprit in the depleting ozone.
Consequently, CFCs were banned by all 197 United Nations (UN) signatories, with the ratification of the Montreal Protocol of 1996. In their place, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were developed as refrigerant alternatives. HFCs worked as intended, and were thought to be safe because they didn’t destroy the ozone. By 2012, emissions of hydrofluorocarbons increased by 310%.
Goodbye HFCs – Hello Solid-State Refrigeration
HFCs have been designated high in Global Warming Potential (GWP), creating a new critical issue for the refrigeration industry that must be addressed. HFCs are 3,000 times more potent than CO2, greatly impacting the accumulation of dangerous greenhouse gases. Why is this a problem? Because those vapor-compression refrigeration systems are so prone to leakage.
For example; in 2005, leaking supermarket refrigeration systems emitted the equivalent of 2,000,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (that’s the equivalence of flying from London to New York over 2,500,000 times). Unfortunately, refrigerants just don’t stay where they are intended.
Without an HFC ban, the EPA projects that hydrofluorocarbons emissions will continue to exponentially grow, due to an ever-increasing demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, and as more ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons require replacing under the terms of the Montreal Protocol. The refrigeration industry desperately needs a solution.
Phononic’s Innovative Technology in Action
At Phononic, we are committed to providing sustainable, convenient, distributed, and connected cooling and heating solutions through solid-state, thermal management technology that effectively eliminates the need for the HFCs and other toxic refrigerants found in traditional compressor-based technology.
Our recent launch of Evolve™, incorporating the SilverCore™ solid-state refrigeration system, delivers compressor-free refrigerators and freezers for laboratories, pharmaceutical, and medical facilities. The products deliver uniform and reliable refrigeration critical to protect valuable pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and other materials, without noise, toxicity, and carbon-offending HFCs.
“We want the industry to know that effective cooling and heating can be achieved without the need for HFCs and toxic refrigerants,” said Mike Demasi, VP Cold Products, Phononic. “Our pharmacy refrigerators are the first step in what we anticipate will be a transformation in cooling and heating across consumer, commercial, and industrial markets”.