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Overwaitea Store Uses CO2-Only Refrigeration

THE VILLAGE ON FALSE CREEK, British Columbia — Overwaitea Food Group opened an Urban Fare Express store here last month that uses a carbon dioxide-only transcritical refrigeration system, eliminating traditional HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) or R-22 refrigerants that have a harmful effect on the environment when leaked into the atmosphere. 

The 23,000 square-foot supermarket, located near Vancouver at the site of the former Athletes Village for the 2010 Olympic Games, is one of only a handful of HFC-free grocery stores in Canada (mostly operated by Sobeys) that use transcritical refrigeration systems. The Hillphoenix Advansor refrigeration system used at the this store is the first CO2 transcritical booster refrigeration system from Hillphoenix, Conyers, Ga., installed in North America. 

HFCs are a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Increasingly, food retailers are moving toward more sustainable natural refrigerants including CO2. It takes 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to equal the global warming potential of just one pound of leaked HFC refrigerant. Aside from the green appeal of CO2, it’s a much less expensive (less than $2 per pound) alternative to HFC refrigerants. 

Related story: Refrigeration Systems Chillin’ With Carbon Dioxide

“We chose a transcritical CO2 booster system because it’s 100% HFC-free,” said Ralph Thiel, director, store planning and construction for Overwaitea Food Group, in a statement. “We’ve seen a number of synthetic refrigerants phased out over the years, and with its high global warming potential, we expect that eventually the current HFC’s will be phased out, too. CO2 transitions us to a natural refrigerant that we can live with in the future.”  

The transcritical CO2 booster system utilizes CO2 as the only refrigerant covering both medium-temp and low-temp loads. Addressing the higher pressures associated with CO2 transcritical refrigeration, this system uses pressure-reducing valves to “maintains pressures within a range normally found in traditional DX systems,” said Hillphoenix. In addition the Urban Fare Express has a back-up auxiliary condensing unit on a back-up generator in case of power failure. The smaller condensing unit cools the CO2 and keeps the pressure low to prevent the loss of CO2.  

“Our company is dedicated to CO2 in all new stores in urban settings and any location where there is a population base with enough tradesmen to be trained on CO2 technologies,” added Thiel.

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