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Exploring the Potential of CO2 Transcritical Booster Systems

By Rajan Rajendran

We installed a CO2 transcritical booster system to anchor our supermarket module at our recently opened Helix Innovation Center for several reasons. It has the potential to provide an efficient, eco-friendly refrigeration source for medium- and low-temp display cases, walk-ins and freezers. But that’s only the beginning. We designed our CO2 transcritical booster system to not only meet the entire air conditioning and heating needs of the supermarket module, we’re also reclaiming its exhaust heat for the facility’s hot water and snow melt system beneath the sidewalks.

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We also chose CO2 because we feel it has the potential for much broader applications than what is commonly thought in the industry today. Our system is designed with the flexibility to demonstrate and exploit these possibilities.

CO2 transcritical booster systems have gained wide acceptance in northern climates throughout the world. As a natural refrigerant with near zero global warming potential, CO2 is becoming a preferred option for retailers seeking to meet sustainability goals and take regulatory compliance out of the equation. But with a critical point of 87.8 °F, special measures are required to keep CO2 systems operating at high efficiencies above this temperature.

This is the reason very few retailers have attempted to deploy CO2 systems in warmer regions. It’s also one of the limitations with CO2 transcritical booster systems that we are determined to eliminate.

Like every industry module in The Helix, the supermarket is an entity unto itself, meaning that the power coming into the module is completely isolated. This allows us to measure the power consumed by the store on its own, while further isolating the energy consumption of any one piece of equipment. Because everything is within this controlled environment, we’re able to evaluate the performance of the CO2 transcritical booster system in the supermarket and the larger building envelope.

What all this means to our customers is that they now have a real-world test lab for designing the ideal refrigeration system for their supermarkets, simulating the conditions and environments that are most challenging without risking product loss or potential damage to their brand. While today the system is CO2 based, we have the ability to change the refrigerant as well as the system architecture. We hope that this opportunity will only spawn new ideas and open the doors to further innovation.

This blog is a summary of the article Exploring the Potential of CO2 Transcritical Booster Systems from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to learn more about the supermarket module at our recently opened Helix Innovation Center.

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