&l;p&g;In the corporate world&s;s march to a low carbon future, everything from fleet fuel management to construction materials, recycling norms to temperature and air conditioning control systems have come into sharp focus. In case of the latter, ozone depleting refrigerants are rapidly on their way out&a;nbsp;given regulatory and consumer pressure.
Imagine then the task at hand if you were seeking an alternative low carbon, ozone friendly cooling system not for a building but rather a 31.35 mile (50.45km) landmark tunnel with the longest undersea portion of any comparable connecting traffic artery in the world that operates 24-7 for most of the year! But that&s;s exactly what Getlink (EPA: GET), formerly Groupe Eurotunnel, the company which manages and operates the Channel Tunnel between&a;nbsp;the U.K. and France, was&a;nbsp;staring&a;nbsp;at.
Its railway operation has miles of double tracks in the two main tunnels, plus a service tunnel, and extensive surface level terminal facilities at Folkestone,&a;nbsp;U.K. and at Calais, France; all of which require a herculean cooling effort, says Laurent Fourtune, Chief Operating Officer of Eurotunnel.
&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-2635&q; src=&q;http://blogs-images.forbes.com/gauravsharma/files/2018/06/GrpeET_025379_ori-1200×800.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;800&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g;&l;em&g;Anglo-French Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel has boosted its sustainability drive by deploying what is being touted as Europe&a;rsquo;s &a;lsquo;Largest Cooling System&a;rsquo;&l;/em&g;
&q;The original cooling plant was built in 1994 when the tunnel opened for public service and we used a coolant called Refrigerant 22, which is an Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) ozone depleting substance. It needed to be replaced. While we wanted to move beyond HCFCs, we didn&s;t want to replace our cooling system with the same technology or one that we&s;d have to replace fairly soon owing to regulatory or environmental concerns.&q;
In its quest for &q;next generation&q; solutions, the company reached out to potential partners late in 2014. After a competitive process, Eurotunnel narrowed it down to Trane, a division of industrial solutions provider Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR), which was offering a next generation system underpinned by a hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology conjured up Honeywell (NYSE: HON).
Following three years of hard work, the non-flammable refrigerant was put to use extensively by Eurotunnel, Trane and Honeywell, thereby creating Europe&s;s largest cooling system, primarily housed in a mammoth facility in Sangatte, France, with the plant inside being 60 meters long and 50 meters wide.
Overall, the system contains four large capacity chillers manufactured by Trane. Two of the chillers have been operational in Sangatte, France, since 2016, and the remaining units at Shakespeare Cliff, U.K., have been operational since late October 2017.
The chillers are up to 10% more energy efficient than the next best chiller available in this tonnage with a GWP or &s;Global Warming Potential&s; of 1, which is 99.9% lower than Refrigerant-22.
Fourtune says, &q;We have chosen the most competitive, safe and reliable system based on a &s;quality first&s; approach. With this move we have also future-proofed ourselves for decades in line with our social responsibility to move to a low carbon economy.&q;
&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-2636&q; src=&q;http://blogs-images.forbes.com/gauravsharma/files/2018/06/GrpeET_016371_A5-1200×798.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;798&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g;&l;em&g;Eurotunnel has gone for a next generation ozone friendly system underpinned by a hydrofluoro-olefin solution.&l;/em&g;
&l;span&g;Not to mention the fact that the operator saved 4.8 GWh or 33% in energy costs on an annualized basis, equating to approximately &a;euro;500,000 ($585,000) in 2017, thanks to the new system. To give you an idea, the wattage consumption is roughly equivalent to saving enough electricity to run 1,000 homes.&l;/span&g;
Julien Soulet, Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Fluorine Products Europe, Middle East and Africa, says Eurotunnel&s;s commendable move towards using its HFO solution that the company brands as &s;Solstice Zd&s; is a sign of times.
&q;This massive undertaking gives us great pride but from a market perspective, we see global demand growing for solutions like Solstice as companies and organizations set about achieving their environmental objectives in their own way. Honeywell has been working across the spectrum from packaging companies to supermarkets, as they reevaluate their cooling needs to align it with consumer and regulators demands for sustainable low GWP solutions.&q;&l;!–nextpage–&g;
Soulet says the new refrigerants make economic sense too, for &a;ndash; as demonstrated by Eurotunnel &a;ndash; they enable better energy efficiency spread over decades. &q;Typical lifetime of the equipment is 30 years for office buildings, hospitals and corporate warehouses, where we find deployment of similar equipment, albeit of a smaller size.
&q;The whole cooling industry is going through a tremendous change and we are seeing an acceleration in the take-up of our HFO solutions. A decade of research has gone into it, with automotive adoption &a;ndash; some 45 million vehicles &l;span&g;&a;ndash;&l;/span&g; serving as precursors to eventual adoption by commercial sites such as the Anglo-French tunnel.&q;
Seeing incremental take-up, Honeywell is allocating $900 million in headline research and development (R&a;amp;D) towards environmentally friendly cooling solutions. Soulet admits the industry can be a &q;bit conservative&q; in opting for next generation systems.
&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-2637&q; src=&q;http://blogs-images.forbes.com/gauravsharma/files/2018/06/GrpeET_001058_ori-1200×781.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;781&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g;&l;em&g;The tunnel operates 24-7 and is closed for only two days.&l;/em&g;
&q;Many opt for interim solutions; but then they see companies like Eurotunnel make an impact statement, infliction happens and suddenly everyone wants it, because it makes sense from a total cost perspective for the lifetime of the equipment spread over decades.&q;
As with deals of this nature, none of the companies involved wish to divulge confidential details on cost at &q;this point.&q;
Jose La Loggia, Vice President and General Manager of Ingersoll Rand&s;s Trane Europe, says their systems, akin to the mammoth version at&a;nbsp;play in the tunnel,&a;nbsp;have pedigree having been successfully and safely used in various applications across Europe and in-sourced from its manufacturing facilities on the continent.
&q;While the&a;nbsp;huge cooling systems from our EcoWise portfolio in use at Eurotunnel&s;s sites were manufactured and imported from Wisconsin, U.S.; this is an exception rather than the norm. Almost 99% of our systems for European clients are manufactured in Europe. This philosophy chimes with our company-wide commitment to introduce sustainably sourced products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.&q;
La Loggia says Trane clients do have the option of moving from HCFC to hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)&a;nbsp;systems as an interim solution. &q;However,&a;nbsp;as was the case with Eurotunnel, our stance is to demonstrate to each potential client that interim HFC solutions would also come under pressure in a matter of years, and that moving to HFO refrigerants by skipping the HFC generation altogether would be the right thing to do.&q;
While the U.S. may have been pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement by President Donald Trump, given the company&a;rsquo;s global footprint, Trane is continuing its advocacy of low carbon pathways, as is its parent company.
&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-2638&q; src=&q;http://blogs-images.forbes.com/gauravsharma/files/2018/06/GrpeET_030859_ori-1200×800.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;800&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g;&l;em&g;Vendors Honeywell and Trane hope Eurotunnel&s;s impact statement will bring many others around to operator&s;s low carbon stance.&l;/em&g;
&q;Reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue. After all, the Paris Agreement was signed by 190 countries around the world. Ingersoll Rand and Trane have many global customers who continue to ask for our guidance on how to increase the energy efficiency and reduce &l;span&g;greenhouse gas&l;/span&g; emissions from their buildings, industrial and transportation systems.
&q;There is strong global customer demand for products and services that are good for the climate and good for business, and we will continue to innovate and provide the solutions our customers require just as in the case of Eurotunnel.&q;&l;/p&g;