One of the most interesting and important programs at the IIAR annual conference in Orlando is the presentation of technical papers. At this year’s conference, industry experts from both the industrial and commercial sides of the business will present technical papers at the IIAR Technical Program.

The session will feature 17 papers covering a broad range of topics in the food retail and industrial space. “This year is unusual in that we have nearly double the amount of technical papers due to member enthusiasm,” said Eric Smith, vice president and technical director of IIAR. “You aren’t going to get this breadth and depth in any other refrigeration specific conference.”

The papers will cover several key areas, including food retail refrigeration applications, industrial use, energy efficiency, and safety and regulatory issues, Smith said.

An IIAR committee reviews paper submissions and identifies the topics that will appeal to the attendees and those that address a specific problem or quandry in the industry. “These get priority,” Smith said, adding that the association collects proposals and ideas continually. “After our annual call for papers, we will evaluate all of the abstracts submitted and determine which papers are most appropriate.”


IAR members are continuing to discuss commercial refrigeration applications, and the association is working to provide relevant technical content, Smith said.

Caleb Nelson of Azane Inc. will present his paper entitled “Methods for Saving Energy in Cold Storage Warehouses.” The paper provides guidance for end users, engineers, operators and manufacturers who endeavor to understand and improve the energy efficiency of a cold storage facility.

“Cold storage is most often considered an industrial application. But we know that in many situations, packaged equipment, rather than fielderected systems, are being used for small warehouse applications, and this type of equipment borders on commercial applications,” Smith said.

Nelson said the title makes the paper sound like it will be a design checklist noting the merits of things like floating head pressure, economizing, using variable frequency drives, etc., but that is not the case. “In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve titled the paper differently, implicating it to cover the ‘overlooked and misunderstood’ aspects of energy reduction instead,” Nelson said. He added that the most basic parts of the paper seemed necessary because many of the errors he sees in system sizing and performance analysis come from a misunderstanding of the fundamentals. “Energy efficiency is not just affected by component selection and P&IDs, but it’s also affected by its resilience to realworld abuses and maintenance neglect.”

Danny Halel of Nthalp Engineering, will also focus on energy in his paper, “Hot Gas vs. Electric Defrost for Standard Commercial Refrigeration Systems: An Energy Compari-son.” “That should be interesting because it provides a basic understanding and descrip-tion of how defrost systems are often applied in food retail applications,” Smith said.

There are more than 38,000 grocery stores operating in the U.S., and the vast majority of them could significantly lower their energy use through implementation of the solutions that Dustin Lilya of DC Engineering outlines in his paper, “Low Head Pressure Operation of Commercial Systems.”

Commercial refrigeration compressors directly account for approximately one-third of the energy consumed in a grocery store. An effective way to lower overall compressor energy usage is to operate at the lowest head pressure possible when ambient conditions and system design will allow for it, Lilya said. The paper provides a technical description of specific components, methodologies and control theories, which can often limit commercial systems from operating at much lower head pressures.

perating at much lower head pressures. Smith said he expects the paper by John Collins of Zero Zone – “Energy Study of Package Chiller Systems – Comparison of Natural (NH3 and CO2 ) and HFC Refrigerants” — to be particularly relevant to the industry at this point.

Collins’ paper evaluates criteria for selection of chiller systems in an ice-rink application using different refrigerants, including ammonia (NH3) R717, carbon dioxide (CO2 ) R744 and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) R448a. Collins said facility owner and operators, systems designers and contractors could benefit from the session.

“I feel that ammonia and CO2 cascade systems are excellent substitutes for HFC and HFO refrigerants, particularly for warmer climates,” Smith said. “We would like to see commercial end users and other commercial system practitioners coming to the conference and learning about these types of systems. This is all in an effort to address current industry issues, build a larger commercial membership base and build on commercial system technical content.”


Smith said IIAR remains committed to meeting the needs of industrial endusers and practitioners. “That has been our traditional core focus and will continue to be a focus,” he said. “Among several interesting papers related to industrial refrigeration, there are two papers that are being presented as a result of research funded by the Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation.”

The paper, “Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation of NH3 Release and Detection in Refrigerated Spaces” by William Greulich of Kensington Consulting, will depict how am-monia distributes in a cold room when a release occurs. “The results of this research are being considered by the IIAR Standards Committee,” Smith said. This will include some very interesting release simulations based on CFD analysis.

As part of the project, researchers completed simulations varying the location, ammonia leak rate and condition, and closed-room mechanical circulation. The three rooms, typical of ammonia refrigerated storage and processing spaces, incorporated equipment details for their operations, as well as specified heat loads and air flows to represent operating and maintenance conditions. Potential detector placement performance was evaluated by extracting data from the simulation results and application of a combinatorial examination of the total time over the experimental and set small groups of spatially distinct potential detection locations took to detect 25-parts-per-million-by-volume ammonia concentration in the model rooms. This data will be used to develop guidelines for sensor numbers and preferred location when designing a room.

Gordon Hart of Artek Engineering LLC will present the paper “Development of a Mechanical Insulation Installation Guideline for Refrigeration Applications.”

“The researcher spent a couple of years traveling to various sites with various stages of insulation project construction,” Smith said. “He has developed a guideline for best practices for installation, and we think that is going to be an important guideline to ensure corrosion under insulation is mitigated and that end users get the best value for their money when they contract for an insulation or piping project.”

Hart said all refrigerated facility designers, owners and users can benefit from attending the presentation and reading the paper. “The takeaway is that the correct refrigeration insulation installation is critical to the long-term performance of that insulation system and that the performance is very important for energy efficiency, condensation control and reduction in corrosion of refrigerated pipe and equipment. Another major takeaway is that the opportunity to install the insulation system correctly presents itself only once. Once the protective jacket is installed over top of the insulation and vapor retarders, it is generally too late to make installation corrections.”


Several of the papers presented, including some focusing on commercial applications, will provide insights into energy efficiency. “These papers discuss using pragmatic methods to analyze and adjust refrigeration systems to be as efficient as they can be,” Smith said.

Andy Campbell of Leo A Daly will present the paper “Reducing Capital and Energy Costs Through Refrigeration Energy Modeling.” He will discuss the validity and value of energy modeling as an integral part of the design process, along with highlighting the benefits of the energy modeling process in advance of capital equipment selection.

Campbell said the paper demonstrates how energy modeling will aid with the selection of capital equipment to deliver energy efficiency for the majority of the system’s operational time, rather than efficiency for peak design conditions. These design principles, while being capable of delivering the required capacity during the maximum design day, reduce energy consumption and capital investment.

John Clark and David Blackhurst of Star Technical Solutions Ltd. will present their pa-per, “Permanent Refrigeration Plant Performance Optimization Using Continuous Real-Time Analysis.” Clark and Blackhurst said studies indicate that efficiency improvements of 10 percent to 30 percent can be anticipated in systems that have not already been opti-mized.

Existing inefficiencies add significantly to the financial cost of operation and the environ-mental impact of these systems. Inefficiencies are generally associated with a lack of infor-mation, knowledge and incentive to improve the situation. However, these barriers can be overcome following advances in computer modeling software, the reduced cost of internet access and computing power and the ease of developing accessible user outputs, allowing the automated analysis results to be delivered continuously to specified personnel.


Peter Jordan of MBD Risk Management Services Inc. has been collecting data related to accidents that have occurred in the ammonia refrigeration industry for more than 10 years and will present his findings in his paper, “Case History: A Study of Incidents in the Am-monia Refrigeration Industry.” “He will review what the causes are and speculate on the best way to prevent them,” Smith said.

Jordan said IIAR members have struggled to answer some basic questions regarding the industry since the earliest days of the Process Safety Management standard and the Risk Management Plan rule. Questions include how many incidents are occurring in the ammo-nia refrigeration industry, what are the consequences of these incidents and what are the most common causes of the incidents?

Each day over the past 14 years, the data on incidents has been input into an Excel spreadsheet. The information was analyzed and compared with historical incident data available from EPA’s Risk Management Plan database and an IIAR survey that was con-ducted in 2008.

“It is hoped that the analysis of these incidents will focus attention on the industry poli-cies and practices which can prevent and/or mitigate the consequences of future incidents in the ammonia refrigeration industry, thereby improving the overall safety of the industry,” Jordan said.

There are two papers related to the execution of PSM programs, Smith said. Linda McDaniel of Americold will present “Taking Your PSM Program to the Next Level – Establishing an Evaluation System,” and Jet Stiffler of JS Compliance LLC will present “How to Perform a HAZOP PHA.”

McDaniel said anyone responsible for PSM compliance at a site or company level as well as contractors who help companies with their PSM compliance or have PSM compliance software could benefit from her session. She said attendees can learn different methods/ideas for scoring PSM items to better communicate accurate compliance progress to upper management. “You cannot improve what you cannot measure,” she said.


Several technical papers and workshops will be presented in Spanish by international members. “We are integrating the international papers with the rest of the program,” Smith said. “We hope that stimulates international networking and that our international members will attend more English-speaking sessions and vice versa.” He said the technical paper presentations are interpreted in real time – utilizing the IIAR conference app – in both Spanish and English through the use of an interpreter and headsets.


In addition to technical papers, the IIAR conference will present several industry workshops. “There are some very important topics in our workshops and panel discussions,” Smith said, adding that topics include global market trends in refrigeration, transcritical CO2 applications in the Latin-American industrial refrigeration market and critical lifesafety plans for ammonia refrigeration facilities. Another workshop will feature presenters discussing incident-specific accidents, what happened and what could have been done to prevent them.

The research panel will present proposed and in-progress cutting-edge research projects. The panel is presented by the IIAR Research Committee, which identifies and scopes projects that are necessary to gain additional understanding of the various technical challenges in the industry. “Several very important findings have resulted from recent research that have a practical effect on safety and efficiency,” Smith said.

Smith noted that code and regulatory advocacy is one of the most important functions of IIAR. “Jeff Shapiro, IIAR’s code consultant, and Lowell Randell, IIAR’s director of government affairs will present their always-popular annual review of IIAR’s efforts and progress in these arenas. Their work is ultra-critical for the use of ammonia refrigeration as it relates to government agency regulations,” Smith said, adding that an update from OSHA, EPA and the Department of Homeland Security will also be provided.

The closing panel will discuss the use of manual hand valves as they are applied to Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mandated lockouttagout programs. “We will discuss a survey that was conducted over the past year related to the topic, the results of that survey, the relevance of the OSHA standard, and what IIAR is considering to address for industry guidance,” Smith said. “We hope people come and ask questions and provide their perspectives.”

Smith said ammonia refrigeration and other natural refrigerants are positioned well to address refrigeration needs in the future. “Natural refrigerants have a lot of advantages including positive environmental effects, reliability and energy efficiency that cannot be overlooked.” Smith said. “Of course, there are also intangible benefits like the ability to advertise sustainable practices.”