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R-290 Condensing Units Deliver Refrigeration Efficiencies and Regulatory Compliance

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The growing demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly commercial refrigeration equipment has led to the resurgence of the natural refrigerant propane (R-290). With a global warming potential of 3, R-290 checks two key regulatory boxes: 1) it is listed as an acceptable refrigerant substitute by the EPA; and 2) it meets the DOE’s call for more energy efficiency in compressors and condensers. To support our OEM customers who are responding to this market demand, Emerson offers a line of condensing units designed to maximize R-290 efficiencies.

As a class A3 (flammable) refrigerant, R-290’s charge limit of 150g has largely constrained its use to smaller, self-contained applications. This makes R-290 an ideal candidate for use in stand-alone, reach-in applications, where the DOE has mandated 30–50 percent reductions in energy consumption as of March 27. This same class of equipment will also be subject to the EPA’s phase-down of commonly used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in 2019. The disparate timing of these regulations is forcing foodservice OEMs to consider meeting both requirements in the same design cycle. Currently, R-290 is a leading option for accomplishing both objectives.

Energy-efficient condensing units

Copeland™ M-Line condensing units provide all the technological improvements needed to help OEMs achieve regulatory compliance while giving end users optimal performance in low- and medium-temperature applications. Designed to deliver energy improvements up to 30 percent, M-Line condensing units are built on the following improvements:

  • Latest generation of Copeland hermetic compressors
  • Electronically commutated fan motors (an optional feature)
  • Condenser coil tubing design that enables additional coil rows

Next generation compression technology

Emerson has been testing alternative refrigerants for years to help OEMs make the transition to DOE- and EPA-compliant compression technology. Emerson offers A*E and R*T compressors rated for use with R-290 and available in fractional horsepower options to serve as the basis of Copeland M-Line condensing units. Designed with OEM and end user concerns in mind, these compressors deliver the following benefits:

  • Minimal sound output for quiet operation
  • More than 20 percent energy-efficiency improvements compared to R-404A
  • Little to no environmental impacts

Wider adoption of R-290 is evidence that the commercial refrigeration industry is becoming more comfortable with the natural refrigerant alternative. While OEMs and operators alike have accepted its 150g charge limit, even incremental charge increases would enable significant advances in system design and efficiencies. This charge limit is currently under review by building codes and standards makers. If (and when) charge limits are increased, Emerson will be prepared to make the necessary updates to our compression technology.

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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