Standards Committee Focuses on CO2

One of the main focuses this year for the Standards Committee has been the development of a CO2 standard. As this refrigerant is growing in popularity, it’s becoming clear the industry needs guidance on its development, deployment and safety measures.

John Collins, the CO2 safety standard taskforce leader and Industrial Sales Manager for manufacturer, Zero Zone, said the new standard will be comprehensive in scope. “It will cover the life of a C02 refrigeration system from its inception and design stage through construction, installation, start-up and subsequent operation.” What’s missing from the industry right now, he said, is a standard which effectively covers all those aspects. While IIAR has released a CO2 handbook as a reference and a resource, it doesn’t carry the weight of a complete standard.

“A good part of what’s driving this is a lot of development in the retail and commercial sector.”

–John Collins, CO2 safety standard development taskforce leader

This standard represents the culmination of a prioritization effort the IIAR has been discussing for years, Collins said. The organization has been moving away from strictly dealing with ammonia and widening its focus to other natural refrigerants.“This is a progression of a decision that was made by this organization more than 10 years ago, we’ve been moving towards this project since then,” he said.

In the industry, what we’re seeing is a shift away from some of the more traditional synthetic refrigerants, and C02 is starting to fill those gaps, said Collins. He explains this increased focus on C02 has been driven by increased regulations on these refrigerants. There were a number of changes to laws and rules which applied to hydrofluorocarbons, making their use more complicated. CO2 seems to be filling a need, and due to these regulatory changes as well as progress in refrigeration technologies, its use has become more popular over the past decade.

“A good part of what’s driving this is a lot of development in the retail and commercial sector,” Collins said. “We are seeing CO2 technology that has been developed for retail and commercial sectors of the industry now being applied in the industrial sector.” For example, transcritical refrigeration technology is making the application and use of CO2 a lot broader.”

Because of this increase in popularity, there’s a need in the industry to have a clear set of rules in developing these systems. With the rate of growth, there’s a lag in terms of what is available for guidance, Collins said. The IIAR is stepping up to address this need.

It’s important that IIAR, as an accredited standard-issuing body, take the lead on this issue, Collins said. “This standard, once published, will be used by the industry as a whole and referenced by code authorities to actually create the laws and rules by which we build and operate these systems.”

Over the past year, the IIAR CO2 task group has been meeting on a regular basis, and over the last 8 months, these efforts have been accelerated to facilitate the development of the standards document. “We’re having weekly phone calls with the task group,” Collins said. “A core group of members is doing the heavy lifting of pulling together materials to develop the document.”

The framework is structured to mirror the arrangement of existing IIAR materials. There’s a design section, there’s an installation section, there’s a commissioning and inspection section, and others similar to that which would be found in other standards. That being said, there’s an awful lot of new material which is specific to C02, being that it’s such a different refrigerant than ammonia and its application is driven by those differences. We have a lot of work to do to incorporate CO2 -specific content and to make it a stand-alone C02 standard.”

A rough draft of the first eight chapters, which deal with design, has been drafted. The remaining chapters are in progress. Collins said content has been driven by a small group at first to lay the groundwork, but that focus will broaden to get input from across the industry to help finalize the particulars of each section. “We are committed to engaging experts from the commercial side of our industry in this effort. The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) is an industry group, with a focus on the retail sector, who shares many common goals with IIAR. Many IIAR members are also NASRC members; and we are working with the organization to develop the standard with the necessary considerations for broad application.”

In the fall meeting of the Standards Committee, Collins said he hopes the remaining sections will be mostly completed, and by the January meeting, he said it’s his expectation that the initial draft will be complete. At that point, the board will be invited to approve a public review sometime in the spring of next year.

“When you’re developing a new standard of this scope it’s not a small task.” I think one of the things IIAR is good at is getting these projects done in a timely manner,” Collins said. “I think the fact that IIAR has a history of putting together standards in a focused way is one of the reasons why we’re in a position to be successful.