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Low-profile Compressors Deliver High Performance and Merchandizing Capacity

Julie Havenar | Director of Integrated Marketing, Cold Chain
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

Self-contained refrigerated display cases have become essential fixtures in many food retail operations. Whether they’re used as spot merchandisers in larger stores, or as part of a distribution strategy in smaller-format outlets, these stand-alone systems offer merchandising flexibility while helping retailers achieve their sustainability goals. But checking all the boxes on an ever-expanding list of end-user preferences is no small feat for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In a recent article that appeared in HVAC Insider, I explored how low-profile compressors are helping self-contained OEMs to address equipment design challenges. You can also view our formatted article here.

Over the past decade, shifting retail market trends and environmental regulations have helped to drive the emergence of self-contained display cases. Not only are these multi-purpose fixtures used in a variety of everyday scenarios, but they have also enabled food retailers to comply with refrigerant regulations and support their broader corporate sustainability initiatives.

Meeting all these end-user requirements presents a unique set of design challenges for OEMs, including a mix of sustainability and practical considerations:

  • Utilize lower-global warming potential (GWP) A1 and A3 refrigerants
  • Achieve high-energy efficiencies and/or ENERGY STAR® certification
  • Maximize the available merchandising space

Balancing design considerations

The low charge refrigerant requirements of self-contained systems make them ideal candidates for R-290 —which has a GWP of 3 — as well also lower-GWP A1 refrigerants such as R-448A and R-449A. To Improve energy efficiencies or achieve ENERGY STAR certification, OEMs have deployed a variety of design strategies, including the use of large-capacity condenser coils. But these coils can take up precious merchandising space in the case itself and can leave less room for other key system components, including the compressor.

As a potential workaround, OEMs have adopted other design strategies such as placing the compressor and/or condensing unit on top of the case itself. Unfortunately, this strategy can create additional design drawbacks:

  • Increasing the overall size of the case
  • Limiting its aesthetic appeal
  • Creating higher noise levels throughout a store

Recent advancements in low-profile compression technology offer a potential solution. By reducing the size of compressors used in these self-contained applications, Emerson is helping OEMs to achieve their customers’ regulatory compliance and sustainability goals — without sacrificing performance, merchandising space or the design aesthetic of their display cases.

Keeping a lower profile

Today, Copeland™ leads the industry in the development of low-profile, fractional and smaller horsepower (HP) scroll and hermetic compressors — in fixed and variable speed options. Our low-profile Copeland hermetic compressor models are ideal for many smaller, medium- and low-temperature, reach-in units and display cases.

Fixed speed hermetic models are available in fractional ranges from ⅛ to 1¼ HP. Variable-speed models enable modulation from ⅛ to ⅞ HP and include an integrated variable frequency drive (VFD) with a smart controller to deliver additional energy-efficiency gains. Refrigerant options include R-448/449A and R-290.

Low-profile, horizontal Copeland scroll compressors deliver industry-leading reliability, efficiency and low noise levels. They are available in fixed and variable-speed models:

  • Fixed speed in ranges from 1 to 3 HP
  • Variable-speed models can modulate from ½ to 4 HP

Our variable speed horizontal scroll compressors are also paired with our advanced Copeland VFDs, EVM/EVH series, which provides a variety of additional performance enhancements:

  • Increased equipment reliability through proactive motor failure prevention
  • Decreased susceptibility to power issues
  • Reduced start/stop events
  • Full system integration with Lumity™ E3 supervisory control platforms

Low-profile Copeland scroll compressors are approved for use with A1 and R-290 refrigerants today and will be qualified for use with A2L refrigerants in the future.

Copeland variable speed compressors utilize brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motors, rather than traditional induction motors, to deliver the energy efficiencies needed to achieve ENERGY STAR certification. Variable-capacity modulation also provides advanced temperature precision a multitude of other reliability and performance benefits.

High performance in small packages

By delivering high performance in small sizes and fractional horsepower ranges, the Copeland low-profile compression portfolio helps OEMs to overcome design limitations and achieve their customers’ energy efficiency, sustainability and merchandising goals.

For those seeking a full condensing unit solution, Emerson works closely with OEM customers in the design and development of condensing units that utilize our low-profile Copeland compression technology. Whether you need fractional HP hermetic or larger-capacity, horizontal scroll compressors — in fixed and variable speed options — Copeland’s low-profile compression solutions and condensing units enable you to meet a wide range of design specifications.

 

 

Zero Zone Partners with Emerson for Warm Climate CO2 Solution

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

As environmental regulations and sustainability initiatives drive the shift toward refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP), food retailers are looking more closely at CO2 (refrigerant name R-744). But transitioning to a refrigeration strategy that utilizes CO2 transcritical booster systems will require technologies that maintain CO2 system efficiencies in warmer climates. In a recent article that appeared in R744, I explored how Emerson partnered with Zero Zone to develop a solution that overcomes these challenges. To view the full article, click here.

From an environmental perspective, CO2 is a natural refrigerant with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a GWP of 1 — making it a leading alternative to higher-GWP hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. Although these characteristics are appealing to grocery chain operators, their primary refrigeration system requirement is to providereliable cooling that supports food safety and freshness.

Overcoming high ambient temperature concerns

As a leading manufacturer of refrigerated display cases and refrigeration systems for food retail and commercial operations, Zero Zone set out to create CO2 transcritical booster systems that meet retailers’ sustainability and reliability goals. To help them develop a solution for a retailer’s outlet in Joplin, Mo., Zero Zone tapped Emerson — its long-time product development partner — for its deep experience in CO2 compression technologies and system components.

A key enabling feature is the use of an adiabatic gas cooler that is designed to operate in high ambient temperatures and keep the CO2 refrigerant below its critical point for as long as possible. The adiabatic gas cooler rejects the heat load from all the refrigerated cases within the CO2 transcritical booster system.

During warmer periods, air entering the finned heat exchangers is pre-cooled to a temperature approaching the wet-bulb temperature via wetted adiabatic cooling pads. This pre-cooling process dramatically improves refrigeration efficiency without having to spray water mist onto the finned heat exchanger surface.

Leveraging Emerson compression, controls and components

Another unique aspect of CO2 transcritical booster systems is their use of only R-744 for both medium- (MT) and low-temperature (LT) loads. Zero Zone’s CO2 rack refrigeration system features three Copeland™ CO2 transcritical semi-hermetic compressors, two Copeland ZO scroll compressors and one digital scroll compressor that provides 20–100% capacity control over system suction pressure. In addition, the lead CO2 transcritical compressor operates with the assistance of a variable-frequency drive (VFD) to enable variable-capacity modulation. Copeland’s CO2 compressors are designed to manage CO2’s high-pressure requirements and benefit from its thermodynamic properties.

To oversee the operation of the CO2 transcritical booster system — which includes managing 12 electronic case controls and optimizing the facility’s overall energy management profile — Zero Zone installed Emerson’s E2 supervisory control. The E2 facility control is part of Emerson’s portfolio of facility management and refrigeration control devices, including Emerson’s new Lumity™ E3 supervisory control with an integrated touch-screen display — which are designed to improve CO2 transcritical booster performance in multiple ways:

  • Controls the variable speed of the fans on the adiabatic gas cooler in response to operating conditions
  • Manages MT and LT compressors by controlling suction pressure variations to enable tight case temperature control and lower energy consumption
  • Controls the temperature difference on the gas cooler and provides visibility into the operation of the high-pressure controller, enabling the monitoring of gas cooler and flash tank pressures, as well as the operation of high-pressure and bypass valves
  • Provides complete oil management control of all CO2 refrigeration compressors
  • Communicates with and captures information from individual case-control units
  • Provides complete control of building HVAC and refrigeration systems, and supports the retailer’s energy and maintenance reduction strategies
  • Enables access from anywhere (mobile, tablet or PC) via a web-based user interface (UI)

The system also utilizes Emerson’s CO2 high-pressure controller, which provides a variety of system management functions, including:

  • High-pressure and flash gas bypass valves directly based on the gas cooler outlet temperature, as well as the pressure of the receiver
  • Subcritical and transcritical modes of operation based on temperature input
  • High-pressure valve to control constant sub-cooling during subcritical operation and ensure optimum efficiency during transcritical operation
  • Communication with the E2, which allows users to manage and monitor all aspects of the high-pressure controller

All the Emerson controls are designed to integrate seamlessly with each other and with the system’s electronic expansion valves (EEVs), enabling real-time visibility to various aspects of refrigeration system status.

Preparing for wider CO2 adoption

Today, the retailer’s Joplin store is operating efficiently and effectively on the CO2 transcritical booster system provided by the Zero Zone and Emerson partnership. This installation is a proof-of-concept for how manufacturers are overcoming end-user concerns over CO2’s operating pressures, maintenance levels and energy efficiency. Emerson CO2 technologies helped to ease those concerns for Zero Zone and their retail customers.

As we expect to see a significant increase in CO2 system adoption in the U.S. over the next few years, Emerson is committed to supporting our original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and end-user partners to drive further CO2 system innovations.

 

Refrigerant Strategies for Achieving Regulatory Compliance

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

Choosing a refrigerant is one of the most important decisions facing food retailers today. With regulatory mandates set to take effect soon, questions about refrigerants and equipment strategies continue to dominate industry conversations. In a recent article that appeared in Contracting Business, I offered tips for achieving regulatory compliance using a variety of lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. You can also view our formatted article here.

After years of regulatory uncertainty, supermarket owners and operators have developed varying degrees of refrigerant transition fatigue. But with the passing of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act in late 2020, regulatory compliance is again becoming a top priority. The AIM Act brings hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) regulations back into focus at a national level and proposes a significant phasedown of HFC refrigerants over the next five years.

Because compliance will no longer be a concern only for those located within California and U.S. Climate Alliance states, many operators are evaluating their retrofit and replacement options for the first time. But it’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. In addition to regulatory compliance, operators must consider other key decision criteria, including operational safety, reliable system performance, the total cost of ownership (TCO) and their own corporate sustainability objectives.

At one end of the continuum, some are pursuing a one-time investment that can get them to the end game of compliance. Others may prefer to take a more incremental approach, i.e., focusing on a strategy that meets near-term compliance targets but is also capable of adapting to future standards. No matter how far along your company is on its sustainability journey — or how much progress (or lack thereof) you’ve made on your refrigerant transition — there are a wide variety of options from which to choose.

Retrofit to R-448A/R-449A in existing centralized direct expansion (DX) systems

For operators hoping to preserve their existing investments, replacing R-404A with R-448A will allow them to achieve sustainability improvements with minimal retrofit requirements. R-448A’s slightly higher discharge temperatures require additional compressor cooling, such as: head cooling fans and/or demand cooling modules or the installation of a vapor-injected scroll compressor. While this strategy may be viable for lowering carbon emissions, it may not satisfy future low-GWP regulatory requirements.

Move the condensing unit outdoors

Outdoor condensing units (OCUs) that utilize R-448A are designed to deliver lower-GWP refrigeration by servicing a limited number of medium- (MT) or low-temperature (LT) fixtures. Ideal for small, urban store formats or large supermarkets deploying new refrigeration capabilities outside of their existing DX systems, OCUs offer installation flexibility and reliability in a variety of scenarios. As A2L refrigerants become available for use in the future, this distributed OCU approach will enable even lower-GWP refrigeration.

Distribute scroll racks throughout the supermarket

Scroll racks provide a scaled-down, distributed version of a conventional rack system that can be strategically installed in proximity to different refrigerated sections. This allows retailers to significantly reduce their overall refrigerant charge — today with R-448A and potentially A2Ls in the future — while benefiting from increased system reliability and energy efficiency. In Europe, A2L versions of these systems have already been successfully trialed and deployed.

Deploy micro-distributed (self-contained) units

Ideal for retrofits, remodels and spot merchandising, flexible stand-alone (aka self-contained) units are factory-charged with R-290 and a 150g charge limit. With the recent Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approval of potentially larger R-290 and A2L charges, this micro-distributed approach will support even greater system capacity in the future. They also utilize lower-GWP HFCs. Manufacturers are designing larger self-contained cases that can integrate a single compressor, refrigeration circuit and electronic controls within the unit itself. This approach can then be scaled from one to multiple units with all cases connected to a shared water loop to remove heat from the store.

Simplify with a distributed scroll booster

Another emerging distributed approach utilizes the low-pressure, lower-GWP R-513A for LT and MT circuits in a scroll booster architecture. This system is designed to eliminate the high discharge temperatures and compression ratios typically found in LT systems. Today, distributed scroll booster systems deliver improved energy efficiencies and high reliability within a familiar A1 operating envelope. This architecture also provides future-state regulatory assurance by offering compatibility with very low-GWP A2Ls.

Boost compliance with CO2 (centralized)

CO2 transcritical booster systems offer an environmentally friendly alternative to HFC-based centralized DX systems. Utilizing R-744 for LT and MT loads, this proven architecture allows operators to achieve compliance with regulations for the foreseeable future. However, the refrigerant’s high-pressure and unique performance characteristics increase system complexities and require the assistance of CO2-trained technicians. This system strategy is already widely adopted globally and is becoming more popular among U.S. retailers suffering from refrigerant transition fatigue.

At Emerson, we are developing refrigeration technologies to help industry stakeholders meet their current and future regulatory mandates. Not only can we help you successfully deploy any of the strategies discussed in this blog, but we’re also ready to help you make the transition to a low-GWP refrigeration strategy that aligns with your operational and sustainability objectives.

Selecting Condensing Units for Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

         Don Gillis | Lead Technical Trainer

          Emerson’s Educational Services

Outdoor condensing units (OCUs) have become essential for providing remote refrigeration in the walk-in coolers and freezers (WICFs) used by food retailers, foodservice operators, cold storage facilities and processing plants. As OCU technologies and end-user preferences continue to evolve, contractors need to understand many considerations when selecting an optimal OCU for their specific application and operational requirements. In a recent E360 article, we evaluated key selection criteria and explored today’s leading OCU options.

Sustainability goals, refrigerant regulations and efficiency standards

To help operators comply with environmental regulations and meet their sustainability initiatives, OCU equipment manufacturers are integrating lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that contractors and end-users will need to adapt to completely new servicing and operating procedures. Many OCUs are designed to use a newer generation of lower-GWP A1 hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants — such as R-448A and R-449A — which represent minimal changes in terms of safety protocols or servicing.

But since these lower-GWP A1 refrigerants have degrees of glide, contractors need to be aware of how the sizing and selection process may be impacted. Refrigerants with glide may have a diminishing impact upon system capacity, which might require you to select a slightly larger-horsepower OCU — and unit cooler/evaporator — to meet your refrigeration load requirements.

As safety standards and building codes evolve over the next few years, mildly flammable A2Ls will likely be added to the list of refrigerant alternatives used in OCUs. Today, Emerson is actively qualifying our OCUs for use with A2Ls and will be ready to support operators seeking even lower-GWP A2L options when they are approved.

When it comes to OCU use in WICFs, refrigerants are only part of the sustainability equation. Per the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2020 rule, WICFs must meet 20–40 percent energy reductions on new and retrofit systems below 3,000 square feet. To calculate the energy efficiency of a complete WICF system, the DOE uses a metric created by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) called the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF).

If you are a contractor installing a condensing unit and/or unit cooler, you must ensure this equipment meets or exceeds the minimum AWEF ratings based on capacity and application — such as medium- (MT) or low-temperature (LT); indoor or outdoor; and refrigerant type. To comply with the DOE standard, simply combine a Copeland™ AWEF-rated condensing unit with an AWEF-rated unit cooler.

Copeland outdoor refrigeration units

Copeland outdoor refrigeration units are designed to comply with regulations and provide sustainable refrigeration for a wide variety of modern operator requirements. Combining the reliable efficiency of Copeland scroll compressor technology with variable speed fans, large condenser coils and smart electronic controls, Copeland X-Line Series outdoor refrigeration units provide whisper-quiet performance in compact enclosures, delivering maximum installation flexibility.

Copeland outdoor refrigeration unit, X-Line Series — available in a horsepower range from ¾ to 6 HP, the X-Line is designed for LT and MT applications, such as WICFs and display cases commonly found in convenience stores (c-stores), restaurants, supermarkets and cold storage facilities. It delivers best-in-class energy efficiencies, a slim profile, ultra-low sound levels, superior diagnostics and built-in compressor protection. Offering AWEF-rated efficiencies and lower-GWP (R-448A and R-449A) refrigerant options, the X-Line supports reliable refrigeration while solving many of today’s operational challenges.

Copeland digital outdoor refrigeration unit, X-Line Series — The digital X-Line Series builds upon the field-proven Copeland scroll and X-Line OCU platforms to deliver superior cooling and energy efficiency in MT applications. Providing variable-speed fan motor control, the digital X-Line Series enables variable-capacity modulation to deliver more precise, reliable refrigeration, longer-lasting equipment and lower energy bills. Available in 3, 4, 5 and 6 HP models, the digital X-Line Series also supports multiplex refrigeration architectures — where one OCU provides cooling for multiple fixtures — to meet a variety of modern refrigeration challenges:

  • Reducing the number of refrigeration fixtures and/or refrigeration loads
  • Precisely sizing refrigeration units and loads to an application
  • Eliminating compressor cycling, which negatively affects system performance and equipment longevity
  • Improving food quality and extending shelf life via tighter temperature control
  • Removing constraints that prevent the installation of multiple fixed-capacity OCUs

Calculate the capacity of your OCU

At Emerson, we are committed to helping contractors calculate refrigeration loads and select OCUs to meet a diverse range of LT and MT refrigeration requirements. By selecting the correct OCUs for your customers’ WICF applications, you can ensure reliable, efficient system performance throughout their lifecycles. To simplify this process, Emerson has created a free online Box Load Calculator tool to assist manufacturers and operators to select, purchase and identify the appropriate equipment for their application. Simply navigate to the Equipment Selection tab, enter your application parameters and estimated refrigeration load, and review your optimal equipment options as you evaluate your specific refrigeration requirements.

Refer to Emerson’s Box Load Calculator to help select a condensing unit for your application.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Tips for Preventing Refrigerant Leaks in Supermarket Systems

Katrina Krites | Director of Strategic Marketing, Cold Chain

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Refrigerant leaks are a universal challenge for U.S. supermarket operators. These leaks are not only costly from an operational perspective, but emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants also contribute to global warming. Today, commercial refrigeration contractors play a significant role in helping operators to implement best practices to reduce and even prevent refrigerant leaks. I recently contributed to an ACHR The NEWS article where I discussed strategies for leak detection and mitigation best practices for supermarket refrigeration systems.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) recently reported that numerous U.S. supermarket chains were leaking significant amounts of HFC refrigerants. These findings were consistent with a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program, which stated that the typical supermarket has an annual leak rate of about 25%, which equates to about 1,000 pounds of leaked refrigerant every year.

Understand root causes

Although refrigerant leaks are much more common in large, centralized systems, it’s not as if contractors or operators simply accept leaks as a design limitation. On the contrary, when a refrigeration system is first installed and commissioned, it operates at peak performance. But over time, systems inevitably drift from their commissioned performance baseline, contractors perform repairs to keep systems running, and the potential for leaks can start to rise if a system is not properly maintained and managed.

For a contractor’s perspective on refrigerant leaks, the NEWS also interviewed Todd Ernest, CEO and founder of Climate Pros, a comprehensive commercial refrigeration and HVAC firm with offices in more than 40 states. Ernest agreed that while leaks are a common problem, nearly half of the stores serviced by Climate Pros do not have refrigerant leaks. One common problem that they discovered is that many stores still use the same copper lines and systems that were installed decades ago. Though durable, copper isn’t intended to last forever — and original insulation and mounting hardware will often eventually wear down.

Similarly, mechanical room cleanliness is also essential for helping contractors to identify leaks. Compressor racks, air-cooled condensers, remote headers, walk-in evaporator coils and other components should be kept free of oil and dirt. Corroded steel components should be removed and/or painted with a rust-inhibiting paint to help prevent future corrosion.

Check for leaks

As I explained in the article, service technicians should conduct refrigerant leak checks at regular intervals, depending on the system size or type. For large, centralized systems, this should usually be approximately every 30–60 days. An effective leak detection program should include three key elements:

  1. Accurate detection methods
  2. Reliable notifications
  3. Continuous monitoring for system leaks

Contractors should recommend the installation of a refrigerant leak monitoring, notification and alarm system to ensure the detection of any leaks between regular leak inspections. Detection devices should also be installed in leak-prone locations, such as refrigeration racks and display cases, to monitor the concentration of refrigerants in the air.

By integrating these devices into Emerson’s Lumity™ supervisory control platform, designated store staff and/or service technicians can be alerted when a leak occurs. This powerful facility management system enables continuous monitoring of refrigeration data to help retailers correlate the leaks with respect to different sections of the system or specific maintenance events.

Ernest added that it’s standard protocol for his technicians to perform a leak check every time they go into a store — regardless of the purpose of the actual service call.

Promptly repair leaks

Today’s leak detection devices make it easier to pinpoint leak sources, but it’s important to remember that in many cases, the first refrigerant leak found in a system may not be the only one — or even the largest.

A quick response is most important after detecting a leak to mitigate its impact upon system performance and minimize the associated economic costs. Supermarkets should establish proper leak detection response protocols and institute proactive measures.

If persistent leaks continue, even at lower leak rates of 20%, supermarkets could lose approximately 700 pounds of R-404A annually. At $7 per pound, that equates to a yearly expense of nearly $5,000 — in addition to any potential costs associated with compliance, environmental consequences and overall deterioration of system performance.

A methodical approach can help to achieve all-important early detection and an overall reduction in refrigerant leaks. The NEWS article concluded with these 10 tips:

  1. Perform a leak check on every service call. Conduct refrigerant leak checks at regular intervals, ideally every 30–60 days for large centralized systems.
  2. Periodically replace copper lines as well as insulation and mounting hardware.
  3. Keep refrigeration racks and mechanical rooms as clean as possible in order to spot leaks more easily.
  4. If one leak is found, it may not be the only one, so check the entire system thoroughly.
  5. Once all leaks have been repaired, confirm that refrigerant levels have stabilized, indicating there are no additional leaks elsewhere in the system.
  6. Install a refrigerant leak monitoring, notification and alarm system to detect leaks between regular leak inspections.
  7. During refrigeration system installation, use proper securing mechanisms for piping and the correct piping techniques.
  8. Perform a nitrogen purge and pressure test with every new installation to ensure no leaks are present.
  9. Establish leak detection response protocols and proactive measures to minimize or eliminate leaks altogether.
  10. Implement a refrigerant tracking system to identify significant leaks.

 

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