DAYTON, Ohio — A natural refrigerant industrial refrigeration system installed at The Helix Innovation Center is helping Emerson with its innovation initiatives and serving as a learning lab for the industry.

The Helix features full-scale, simulated environments, including a working commercial kitchen, a two-story residential home, a grocery store, a data center, and the whole facility as a commercial building. Teams will use the facility to generate new ideas and then test them under real-world conditions.

The Helix’s modules not only have multiple refrigeration and/or HVAC systems installed, they also feature condensing units located in environmental chambers to enable ambient temperature control from -30°F to 130°F. To cool these chambers, plus the one surrounding the 2,000 square foot home, Emerson needed 50 tons of low-temp cooling capacity. Emerson created a carbon dioxide (CO2) subcritical cascade system working with an Emerson industrial hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HFC) 134a medium temperature chiller, which resulted in a complete industrial refrigeration package. This system, which is now also the industrial refrigeration module at The Helix, allows Emerson to leverage a testing environment with real operating conditions and make final tweaks backed by proven results before going to market.

“Our industrial refrigeration system at The Helix is unique in that it both supports the overall innovation work of the facility and is itself a sandbox like the other modules for testing, learning, and innovation,” said Rajan Rajendran, vice president, system innovation center and sustainability, Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions. “Emerson is leveraging the results of testing to develop larger CO2 cascade systems to serve customers in the cold storage and food manufacturing and other industries that require low temperatures and prefer natural refrigerants for their processes.”

“To create the new system, the Emerson team started with its existing 400 series Vilter reciprocating compressor and updated the design to withstand the higher pressures of the CO2 system. The compressor features capacity modulation via a combination of cylinder unloading and speed ranging from 700 to 1800 rpm,” said Wayne Wehber, vice president, business development, Vilter, Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions. “The result is an integrated system on a common skid with a pair of two cylinder compressors working in parallel to provide 50 tons at -35°F SST [saturated suction temperature] +25°F SCT [saturated condensing temperature].”

The system at The Helix allowed Emerson to see the process through from design to installation, start-up, and commissioning and performance testing. Developing this system first in The Helix posed several advantages for Emerson, including ready access to the technology for testing and on-site Emerson technicians for taking measurements.

Emerson plans for The Helix to be a global hub of industry education. In addition to the modules, the facility includes three learning labs and the company plans to host industry meetings and hold forums for HVACR professionals on-site.

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Publication date: 12/12/2016

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