The AHR Expo welcomed thousands of HVACR contractors and other industry personnel to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, for its annual three-day event in February. On the show floor, manufacturers displayed their latest equipment and components, which included new condensing units, controls, components, and other solutions designed specifically for the commercial refrigeration market.
Rivacold focused on natural refrigerants and energy efficiency, and its booth showcased green, easy-install solutions for the food retail and food service segments, as well as pharmaceutical, scientific, and small industrial applications.
“The AHR Expo is important for us, as it allows us to share our values and product novelties and to confirm our leadership in the manufacture of high quality, efficient, and environmentally sustainable refrigeration equipment also here in North America,” said Tommaso Scavone, sales manager of the North American region at Rivacold. “This year, it’s even more important, as we [are] ‘playing at home’ in Atlanta, where we established our American Business Unit in 2019.”
Rivacold exhibited several natural refrigerant solutions, including its transcritical CO2 condensing unit line, CO2NNEXT, which is designed for a wide range of applications from walk-ins to display cases and counters. With its new generation of controls for CO2, this system can connect up to five different utilities and offers up to 45,000 Btu in medium temperature and 25,000 Btu in low temperature.
The company also highlighted its BEST (Blocksystem, ecological, smart, technological) solution, which is a new design of its historical Monoblocks that uses propane as the refrigerant. New electronics and integrated connectivity system make this new R-290 packaged system aesthetically appealing, functional, and digitally innovative, said Scavone.
“The thermodynamic circuit was completely revised by using variable-speed compressors, electronic expansion valve, EC fan motors, and reduced pipe diameter to match extreme reliability and high performance,” he said. “Specifically designed for walk-in coolers and freezers, BEST will minimize installation time and costs, as there is no need for piping, wiring, or plumbing on site. It will be launched in March 2023.”
Rivacold’s booth also featured other natural and low-GWP refrigerant condensing units and sealed systems, which can be customized according to a customer’s specific needs.
Danfoss is a longtime attendee at the AHR Expo and looks forward each year to showcasing its latest heating and cooling solutions that help customers improve energy efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and save costs, said Christopher Gangemi, regional segment marketing manager of refrigeration at Danfoss.
“With the HFC phasedown approaching, we are excited to share our solutions that can support our customers in the transition to low-GWP refrigerants.”
To that end, Danfoss highlighted its package solution for walk-in coolers and freezers, which includes outdoor rated condensing units, unit cooler evaporators, mechanical and electrical controls, remote monitoring devices, and line components such as expansion valves, solenoid valves, and filter driers.
CONDENSING UNITS: Danfoss Optyma Slim Line condensing units are built with scroll compressors, microchannel heat exchangers, and fan speed controllers. (Courtesy of Danfoss)
For example, the Danfoss Optyma Slim Line condensing units are available from 1.5 to 10 HP and are built with scroll compressors, microchannel heat exchangers, fan speed controllers, and other necessary components and controls. Danfoss unit cooler evaporators are matched up with the condensing units and are quick and easy to install, while Danfoss Optyma condensing units and unit coolers exceed the minimum annual walk-in efficiency factor (AWEF). The Danfoss electronic controller (AK-RC251) can manage the entire walk-in unit from the compressor to evaporator fans to door frame heaters, improving the efficiency of walk-in coolers and freezers by up to 30%.
Danfoss also highlighted a number of new connected solutions this year, starting with the KoolConnect Bluetooth adapter and mobile app, which enable plug-and-play connectivity to Danfoss ERC and EET electronic controllers. Its ability to quickly and easily get a full system view and configure the controller in the app reduces time spent on commissioning and service calls, said Gangemi.
“With the addition of the unit cooler evaporators and connectivity devices, Danfoss now has a nearly complete portfolio of refrigeration solutions for contractors and OEMs that build and service walk-in coolers and freezers,” he said.
As AHR is one of the world’s largest trade shows exclusively for HVACR, Embraco wanted to present its complete portfolio of refrigeration solutions, said Michel Moreira, commercial refrigeration business director for North America at Nidec Global Appliance, responsible for the Embraco portfolio in the region.
“Our main themes and messages at the Expo include: reinforce Embraco’s complete portfolio of solutions for all segments in commercial refrigeration; discuss the market trends we see on the horizon; show Embraco’s new products that are coming to the market in 2023, as well as the ones we launched in 2022; talk about the advantages of variable-speed technology; present our condensing units portfolio; and demonstrate our full line of solutions for the replacement market,” he said.
COMPACT UNITS: The Evaporative Drain Pan (EDP) condensing unit lineup from Embraco features a compact design that is ideal for food service reach-ins and under-counters. (Courtesy of Embraco)
The condensing unit portfolio includes the Evaporative Drain Pan (EDP) lineup, which is designed for food service reach-ins and under-counters. These condensing units are compact, starting from 10.4 inches high, and the versions for reach-ins range from ¼ to 1 HP of cooling capacity ⅛ to 1½ HP for under-counters. Equipped with energy-efficient Embraco compressors, the new lineup has a vast array of options for R-290 and includes variable-speed compressor options. EDP condensing units solve draining issues by having the evaporative drain pan installed below the compressor, with a reservoir capacity up to 0.6 gallons (2.3 liters).
On the compressor front, Embraco highlighted the soon-to-be-launched VNEX variable-speed reciprocating compressor for large low- and medium-temperature food retail applications. It is large enough to cover up to five-door reach-in commercial freezers and large open-air refrigerators and offers the largest cooling capacity and energy efficiency of its range, said Moreira. It will be available with R-290, which has GWP of close to zero.
“Embraco’s solutions were developed to be simple and quick to install,” said Moreira. “Contractors will also appreciate the availability of a full portfolio of replacement compressors and condensing units, as well as spare parts, in the aftermarket.”
For Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, attending the AHR Expo meant being able to connect with existing and potential customers to discuss solutions for their specific situations, said Ashish Kapoor, director of marketing and product management at Heatcraft.
“In conversations with our customers, it’s become clear that energy efficiency, operational savings, technician training, and regulatory compliance are top of mind for them,” he said. “We have products, technology, and expertise that can help solve these customer challenges.”
REFRIGERATION CONTROLLER: David Bolanos discusses Heatcraft’s intelliGen refrigeration controller, which requires minimal training for contractors. (Staff photo)
At the booth, Heatcraft highlighted its key controls platform — the intelliGen refrigeration controller, which has been available for about five years. The technology delivers best-in-class first cost (installation) savings, energy efficiency gains, and is intuitive enough that contractors require minimal training to start using it, said Kapoor. In addition, its remote monitoring capabilities via a simple browser-based interface allows a more efficient deployment of the end users’ refrigeration assets.
“The intelliGen refrigeration controller benefits end users by maintaining better temperature control, hence reducing product spoilage and improving product quality. It also provides energy savings through an optimized defrost schedule and operational savings via smart servicing with data logging and remote monitoring capability,” said David Bolanos, head of product management at Heatcraft. “For contractors, the controller offers an intuitive user interface design and ‘Quick Start Setup’ to commission the system, which allows contractors to configure the controller in less than two minutes.”
Bolanos added that Heatcraft has more than 40 new product lines under development that will be ready to meet customers’ regulatory needs ahead of the anticipated compliance deadline to transition to low-GWP refrigerants in 2025.
Parker Sporlan highlighted its refrigeration solutions for the food service and food retail industries, including products designed for R-290, A2L, and CO2 applications. These offerings are in response to supermarkets focusing on new system designs to reduce their GWP impact, said Dustin Searcy, marketing manager at Sporlan Division.
“The Sporlan team is focused on developing the right control solutions for these changing needs and new system designs,” he said. “One of those solutions is the recently launched NX thermostatic expansion valve (TEV) for use with R-290 and A2L refrigerants. The NX TEV’s compact design (with integrated element and internal superheat adjustment feature) and superior corrosion resistance (stainless steel element, capillary tube, and bulb) are great features for the food service and food retail markets.
R-290 TEV: Sporlan recently launched the NX thermostatic expansion valve for use with R-290 and A2L refrigerants. (Courtesy of Sporlan)
In addition, Sporlan introduced its new filter drier design for contaminant removal in A2L refrigerant systems. This design features the same external shape and size as previous models; however, internally there is a larger core, which increases moisture and acid capacity. For R-290 systems, the company displayed its R-290 optimized copper spun filter drier with holding capacity of just 2.36 grams of propane.
For CO2 refrigeration systems, Sporlan showcased its 140 bar-rated gas cooler and flash gas bypass valves, as well as options for case expansion that include the SER-HP electric expansion valves and the SPW pulse width modulation valves (both models are rated at 90 bar). These expansion valves can be controlled by the Micro Thermo Alliance refrigeration controllers, Sporlan’s S3C case controller, and the new Cold Room Controller (model CRC). The company also highlighted the EBV-PR ball valve with internal pressure relief feature (rated at 90 bar). The internal pressure relief feature simplifies case piping and removes the need for check valves piped around ball valves as a safety measure.
“By 2025, the refrigerant market will greatly change, driving manufacturers and end users to low-GWP solutions,” said Searcy. “The products outlined above align to the changing needs of the market, and we will continue to expand our product offerings for these critical areas.”
For Emerson, the AHR Expo provides an incredible opportunity to connect with customers and end users, said Sam Smith, director of product management, controls at Emerson.
“We can also showcase our sustainable solutions — including R-290, A2L, and CO2 options — that are helping to reduce global impact while redefining comfort, efficiency, performance, and safety in the HVACR industry,” he said. “This year is especially important for us with the recent announcement that Emerson’s Climate Technologies business will become a new standalone company later in 2023 as a part of the Blackstone portfolio.”
CO2 CONTROL: The E3 supervisory control platform for CO2 is specifically designed for CO2 applications to deliver advanced facility management and refrigeration control. (Courtesy of Emerson)
Some of the refrigeration offerings featured at the Emerson booth included the latest advancements in user-friendly system controls, compressors, case controllers, and leak detection devices. This included the next-generation E3 supervisory control platform for CO2, which is specifically designed for CO2 applications to deliver advanced facility management and refrigeration control, including quick access to an entire system overview and visibility into compressor performance, high-pressure controllers, and case controllers, said Smith. He noted that the E3 for CO2 applications integrates seamlessly with Emerson’s connected CC200 case controller, which provides the following robust capabilities:
- Maintain tight temperature control;
- Remote case monitoring;
- Modular support for multi-evaporator cases;
- Bluetooth connectivity for quick troubleshooting;
- Alarms and notifications monitoring; and
- Demand defrost support for energy optimization.
When combined with Emerson’s Connect+ enterprise management software, these controls support centralized facility and asset management across a network of connected retail stores. Connect+ transforms raw data into insights to provide near real-time access to the critical information retailers need to monitor energy consumption and performance, triage, and quickly respond to issues across their multi-site store network.
“The ability to leverage electronic controls and data analytics has become a higher priority for commercial refrigeration stakeholders, but simply capturing data is not enough,” said Smith. “That is why in addition to developing advanced supervisory controls, compressor, case controllers, and leak detection sensors, Emerson continues to focus on analytics and monitoring solutions that provide insights into equipment health, as well as preventive failure warnings.”
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