ST. LOUIS — Emerson Climate Technologies has filed a patent application for a simulation model of a commercial ice machine to support development of more efficient equipment that can meet upcoming U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) targets. The new ice machine computer simulator, tested to be within 5 percent accuracy of actual machines, is the result of collaboration with the University of Dayton and work and testing completed at Emerson’s Design Services Network and The Helix Innovation Center on the university’s campus.

“This project was a great example of our ideation model at work. At The Helix we explore new approaches to industry challenges, test concepts, and then create new models to solve them. In this case, our process helped us create a system model that will support future innovations in ice machine efficiency,” said Rajan Rajendran vice president, System Innovation Center and Sustainability for Emerson Climate Technologies. “The collaboration with the University of Dayton was important to our success and we are pleased to have filed our first patent from our work at The Helix.”

Emerson’s work on ice machine efficiency is aimed at helping the industry address the DOE’s target of reducing energy usage in ice machines that produce 50-4,000 pounds per day by 10-15 percent by 2018. A major segment of the ice machine market includes self-contained units that produce batches of cube ice at regular intervals. These machines, known as “cubers,” are primarily used in restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, and hospitals.

Creating an engineering model for ice machines presented a particularly challenging application that the team at The Helix and the University of Dayton tackled. Ice machines continually cycle between ice formation mode and ice harvest mode, which makes it difficult to model. The model simulates the alternating operation of ice machines and calculates time-varying changes in the system properties and aggregates performance results as a function of machine capacity and environmental conditions. The Emerson and University of Dayton team presented the technical aspects of their model in a paper at the 2016 Purdue Conference on Refrigeration and Air Conditioning in July.

Simulation results from the model were compared with the experimental data of a fully instrumented, standard 500-pound capacity ice machine, operating under various ambient air and water inlet temperatures. For these measures, the model’s accuracy is within 5 percent for a variety of operating conditions.

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Publication date: 10/11/2016