An industrial refrigeration system using a natural refrigerant has been installed at the Helix Innovation Center in Dayton, Ohio. The system, a part of global technology and energy company Emerson’s innovation initiatives, is set up as a learning lab for those in the industry. 

“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 of the system innovation center and sustainability at Emerson’s commercial and residential solutions division. “Emerson is leveraging the results of testing to develop larger (carbon dioxide) 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.”

The Helix Innovation Center’s modules have multiple refrigeration and HVAC systems installed and also feature condensing units located in environmental chambers to enable ambient temperature control from below 30°F to 130°F. To cool these chambers, Emerson created a carbon dioxide chiller, which resulted in a complete industrial refrigeration package. The system, which is also the industrial refrigeration module being used at the Helix, allows the Emerson team to leverage a testing environment with real operating conditions  and make alterations before going to market.

“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 carbon dioxide system,” said Wayne Wehber, vice president of business development for Vilter and Emerson’s commercial and residential solutions division. “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 (below) 35°F (sea surface temperature) and (above) 25°F (saturated condensing temperature).”

Emerson officials said the industrial refrigerant system at the Helix has allowed its team to see the process through design to installation as well as startup and commissioning, and performance testing.