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Posts from the ‘Refrigeration’ Category

Using the Sun to Keep Food Cool

JoeSummers Joe Summers | Product Planner, Transport & Commercial Controls

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is based on an article published in Refrigerated Transporter titled “Rayfrigeration’ TRU generates impressive results in real-world testing.” Read the full article here.


Effective refrigerated transportation is essential to the cold chain. If we can’t keep perishable food at a steady temperature from point A to point B, the results are spoiled food, loss of revenue and empty shelves. The emissions produced by the high-polluting, small diesel engines on trucks trying to keep food cool have always seemed to be a necessary evil. However, those days may be numbered.

The new “Rayfrigeration” transport refrigeration unit (TRU) from eNow is the first zero-emissions, commercial-use TRU capable of making deliveries in urban environments. Over five months of testing, it boasted massive emissions reductions.

Utilizing two forms of energy storage, eutectic medium (cold plates) and a high-capacity auxiliary battery system, the Rayfrigeration TRU gets charged when the vehicle is plugged in overnight and then, while the truck is on a delivery route, uses power from eNow’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are mounted on the truck’s roof.

Not only is this unit projected to reduce operations and maintenance costs by up to 90 percent, it also reduced the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a delivery truck over a four-day period from 2,525 to 159 pounds; nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions were reduced from 7,162 grams to 1.

The ability to cut CO2 emissions by 86 percent, lower NOX emissions by 98 percent and slash particle matter emissions by 97 percent is a groundbreaking step in reducing the cold chain’s ecological footprint. As businesses and organizations continue to develop their own sustainability initiatives and the EPA proceeds with stricter regulations, innovative technology like this will be at the forefront of industry priorities.

[E360 Webinar Recap] How Refrigerant and Control Selections Are Impacting System Design and Engineering

AndrewKnight_Blog_Image Andrew Knight | Vice President/Refrigeration Team Leader

Henderson Engineers

This blog is based on Emerson’s most recent E360 Webinar, “Top Retailer Trends for Refrigeration, Controls and Facility Optimization.”

How refrigerant and control selections blog client review

Today’s trends in refrigeration systems and electronic control schemas are having significant impacts on refrigeration design and engineering. I recently had the pleasure of participating in an E360 Webinar where I discussed two emerging trends my company is currently encountering: small-store design and case-level control strategies. The webinar also featured Andre Patenaude, director of food retail marketing & growth strategy, cold chain; and John Wallace, director of innovation, both of Emerson.

Smaller stores present new challenges

As demographics are shifting to higher-density living, accommodating smaller-footprint grocery stores in high-rise or mixed-use buildings is becoming more common — and presenting new challenges. In many cases, these spaces were never intended to support refrigeration and HVAC operations. Because of this and other limitations, equipment integration discussions should begin in the early phases of a site’s evaluation process.

When it comes to refrigeration equipment options for small-footprint designs, there are many possible approaches:

I) Compressor house: enclosure that contains refrigeration equipment, typically housed on the roof


  • Consolidation of rack(s), condenser(s), electrical and centralized controls
  • Service technician-friendly


  • Large and heavy
  • Is there space on the roof?

II) Machine room/equipment mezzanine: traditional way to house refrigeration equipment


  • Consolidation of rack(s), electrical and centralized controls
  • Good serviceability


  • Expensive to build
  • Can take up sizable space
  • Needs leak detection and exhaust

III) Distributed system: typically, interior systems mounted on top of walk-in coolers


  • Saves space, quiet
  • Available in a split-suction configuration (to serve low- and medium-temp loads)
  • Served by roof-mounted condensers or fitted with a heat exchanger that utilizes a dedicated condenser loop, or is tied to main building condenser system


  • Service access isn’t ideal
  • What happens when walk-in needs replacement?

IV) Exterior distributed system: roof-mounted packaged system for smaller applications


  • Lighter-weight unit
  • Integral condenser


  • Limited capacities, depending on ambient temperatures
  • No split-suction configuration available

V) Unitized exterior distributed system: roof-mounted unit that houses compressor cabinet with condenser next to it


  • Lighter-weight unit with microchannel condensers
  • All electronic valves
  • Case controls separated from rack controls


  • May not be available in split-suction configurations


Case-level control becomes more viable

Advancements in electronic expansion valves and controls technologies at the case level allow more flexibility for merchandising. For example, case temperatures can be more easily modified to accommodate a wider range of merchandise, within reason. Other benefits include:

  • Case conditions (temperature and humidity) are monitored and controlled within the case instead of a centralized system.
  • Technology is evolving to enable self-diagnostic capabilities to communicate issues before problems surface.
  • Consolidation of 120 V circuits fans/lights/anti-sweat circuits means less wiring and fewer conductors are needed, saving time and money in installation.
  • Owner operation is enhanced because products don’t have to be pulled from the case to adjust the electronic expansion valves.

Door or no door?

The battle rages on. Customer usability and reach are enhanced with no case doors; from an economic standpoint, adding doors reduces compressor horsepower up to 83 percent and energy usage by 75 percent. “To door or not to door” is largely a matter of merchandising, as doors work well with sealed products (like the deli or dairy) but not as well for meats and produce.

Installing new or retrofitting case doors depends on several engineering factors such as control valve, riser and piping sizes and rack considerations.

I encourage you to review Andre Patenaude’s and John Wallace’s blogs covering the E360 Webinar on “Top Retailer Trends for Refrigeration, Controls and Facility Optimization for additional fresh insights on emerging trends in the refrigeration industry.



Addressing Modern Refrigeration Challenges Through Technology

benpicker Ben Picker | Copeland Units Project Manager

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our E360 program, entitled Technological Transformation.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Today’s commercial refrigeration market faces a number of challenges, some of the more prominent being a surplus of regulations, a shortage of qualified technicians, and a consumer base demanding fresh, premium quality foods. Commercial refrigeration manufacturers have maximized their efforts to develop technological solutions that help store operators achieve compliance, sustainability and profitability goals.

This technological transformation starts with the use of electronic controls at the individual component, system and facility/supervisory levels. These controls serve as the brains of new equipment, typically relying on sensors to measure environmental conditions pertaining to mechanical operation. Here’s a closer look at the different levels of electronic controls:

  • Component controls: integrate with a certain component, like a compressor, to maintain efficiency and identify operational issues
  • System controls: operate multiple components within a system, such as a valve, compressor and fan, to control, direct and optimize system-level efficiencies
  • Supervisory controls: coordinate the operation of multiple systems, like refrigeration, HVAC and lighting, allowing for component and system controls to communicate their conditions for store operators or technicians to assess and interpret

The second important technological development is the emergence of new electro-mechanical components that perform specific functions within the refrigeration cycle, including compressors, valves and fans. These can either be self-contained or in two separate components that are installed together.

An exception is scroll compression technology, which doesn’t necessarily need electronic controls to address many operator challenges. The inherent benefits combine multi-refrigerant capabilities with reliable operation and energy efficiency.

However, the addition of controls elevates scroll compressor benefits. One of these is the ability to modulate capacity, enabling precise temperature control and improved energy efficiencies. In fact, capacity modulation is so effective in reducing energy consumption that some utilities offer incentives for operators to make the transition. New electronic expansion valves also improve system efficiencies, providing precise control of refrigerant flow and system superheat using today’s new class of lower-GWP, HFC refrigerant alternatives.

The advanced diagnostic capabilities help operators prevent system failures, limit reliance on technicians, and take maintenance operations into their own hands. Even when maintenance is required, these diagnostics greatly improve the servicing process. Remote access allows technicians to quickly diagnose and fix refrigeration system errors, improving a technician’s effective service capabilities and reducing maintenance costs.

The adoption of these technologies allows operators to address compliance and operational challenges, all while protecting profitability. As the commercial refrigeration industry begins to see new challenges and regulations arise, the expanding capabilities of refrigeration technology and controls will ease the worries of operators and make problem-solving easier.



[E360 Webinar Recap] What’s Driving Trends in Control Selections?

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is based on our most recent E360 Webinar, “Top Retailer Trends for Refrigeration, Controls and Facility Optimization.”

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I recently participated in an E360 Webinar where I discussed electronic control architectures within the context of trends in refrigeration and system design. The webinar also featured Andre Patenaude, Emerson’s director of food retail marketing & growth strategy, cold chain; and Andrew Knight, vice president of Henderson Engineers.

Before I begin, it’s useful for readers to have a basic understanding of “centralized” vs. “distributed” control architectures. In a centralized schema, the refrigeration rack and electrical control panels are typically located in a store’s mechanical room, perhaps on the roof or somewhere near the back. “Home run” sensors are placed in the cases and send temperature information back to the control area. All decisions are made from that centralized control panel.

In a distributed system, refrigeration rack controls are still in the mechanical room, but case controls are now moved to each case via a complete electronic package. In this scenario, sensors are connected directly to the electronics in the cases, and simply communicate back to the rack controls or an electronic management system.

The primary factors that influence the control architecture decision include size of the store and choice in the refrigerant architecture. Generally speaking, the smaller the store, the more distributed the architecture. Low-GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants also drive control architectures toward a more distributed approach. CO2 transcritical has higher pressures and controls are required for the coordination of low- and medium-temperature compressors. R-290 is flammable and thus has a much lower refrigerant charge; therefore, compression and controls are typically housed together in a self-contained unit. Either way, the control scheme utilizes a more distributed approach.

From stand-alone to ‘islands of control’ to the internet of things (IoT)

To envision where I think we’re headed trend-wise, it’s useful to know how we’ve evolved. Years ago, mechanical systems all had their own types of controls and were completely independent, or stand-alone. Over time, integration occurred. Stand-alone systems were tied together into what might be thought of as “islands of control”, which can include:

  • Refrigeration
  • HVAC
  • Lighting
  • Energy
  • Other mechanical functions

The sharing of information allowed for better control and efficiencies.

Then came the emergence of a “supervisory function”— a modern building automation system (BAS), where the islands are tied together to control a broad range of equipment and enable integrated optimization across a facility.

While these site-level supervisory controls are critical to efficient operations, connectivity across the enterprise is the next evolutionary step and crucial for future success. By utilizing BAS across multiple locations, businesses can tie into IoT platforms to collect enterprise-wide data, providing greater operational visibility and opening up opportunities for benchmarking. Managing across the enterprise, retailers can answer strategic questions such as:

  • Which sites are performing well, and which aren’t?
  • How many alarm incidents are occurring, and where?
  • Why is Store 17 performing differently than Store 12 when all site attributes are identical?
  • What additional efficiencies can be implemented?

Planning for the next wave of “smarter” buildings requires increased flexibility and advanced controls that can expand to enable more value in all areas of operations, not the least of which is refrigeration.

In our next blog, Andrew Knight will discuss how a few of the trends Andre and I covered in our presentations impact store design and engineering.



Earth Day 2018: Seize the Opportunity for Sustainability

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Marketing Cold Chain Leader
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Since 1970, people worldwide have gathered together every April 22nd for Earth Day to bring attention to issues regarding the health of our planet and ways in which all of us can work toward a healthier, more sustainable way of life and do our best to protect our environment.


In the refrigeration space, obtaining regulatory compliance and furthering sustainability initiatives are ambitious but necessary tasks that various food retailers face in today’s industry climate. They are not intended to be perceived as challenges, but rather opportunities for businesses to work together to optimize facility operations and create a more environmentally friendly way of doing business. Here are three ways you can seize that opportunity and emphasize sustainability.

  1. Natural refrigerant renaissance

The regulatory climate may seem to be in a constant state of change, but one consistency remains:  carbon dioxide (R-744), propane (R-290) and ammonia (R-717) headline the list of refrigerants which can deliver regulatory compliance and align with corporate sustainability goals. While not perfect, these natural refrigerants are about as close to “future proof” as facility operators currently can get. As technology continues to improve, equipment manufacturers are working closely with forward-thinking companies to develop innovative solutions that have resulted in new, creative natural refrigeration applications.

  1. Using IoT to reduce energy consumption

Integrating HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems into building automation and supervisory controls systems can help building operators gain insights into energy use and help reduce consumption. Companies like Emerson are working to create technologies that can be easily integrated into existing systems and buildings, helping boost sustainability efforts without incurring costly construction and installation time. Combining these new technologies with smart strategies has opened the door for a bright and sustainable future in the refrigeration industry.

  1. A boom in big data

Using data gathered from remote monitoring services can be used to help reduce waste, increase efficiency, and help ensure food freshness and safety. These remote monitoring services gather data from sensors, monitor conditions like product and case temperature, and provide real-time information on critical store equipment such as energy use, equipment operating condition, refrigerant leaks and more. Utilizing the data gathered by remote monitoring allows companies to simultaneously safeguard food and further sustainability efforts.

Promoting sustainability solutions and tactics shouldn’t only be saved for special occasions like Earth Day. Developing your own “good neighbor” story and making a positive impact on the environment are continual jobs. The opportunity to develop sustainability initiatives that become the industry standard is more present than ever; consider how you can seize that opportunity today.

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