CHICAGO — There were two major trends impacting refrigeration contractors at the most recent Food Marketing Institute Expo. They can be jointly summed up as “one-stop shopping for increasingly sophisticated technologies.”

Major manufacturers, for example, said they could provide a full range of refrigeration-related services even as the equipment and components being supplied are getting more complex.

One traditional byproduct of the equation is the fact that store designers and contractors who have a voice in design specifications can pretty much say what brands they want regarding virtually every component that goes into a store’s mechanical system, and the builders of such systems will be happy to comply.

At the same time, there seems to be a shift toward those supplying a full range of technologies and services encouraging end users to use a specific package of components.

Translation: “We’ll do whatever you want, Mr. Grocer, but in the end, what we offer in our total package will work best for you.”

A suction stepper control was shown at the Kysor-Warren booth.

System-Wide Concerns

In alternatives to traditional direct expansion refrigeration systems with mechanicals located in the back room, the supermarket industry has been focusing on distributed technology and secondary loop systems. Both received renewed focus at FMI.

Hussmann ( introduced its latest generation of distributed technology, called Protocol HE. Officials noted the system was modeled after the company’s standard Protocol unit but with higher efficiencies.

“Protocol HE incorporates vapor-injected (ZFKV) scroll compressors for low-temperature applications and ZBKC scrolls for medium temp,” said officials. “This combination of scroll compressors results in the most efficient refrigeration system available in the industry today.” It was noted that an economizer cycle enhances system performance by subcooling the liquid refrigerant through “mid-pocket” interstage injection.

Part of the distributed rollout from Hussmann was the SC Protocol, which was mounted above the top canopy of the refrigerated display case it serves. Connections were said to be easy for condensing water lines. Refrigerant is pre-charged at the factory and a single electrical plug is used for both the compressor unit and case. The medium-temperature version uses a horizontal scroll compressor capable of variable speeds. Low-temp configurations use fixed speed recips.

The company also used the expo to feature several items shoppers use and contractors service. The Impact Elite is a merchandiser designed to reduce energy through the use of airflow and lighting features and a patented modular coil design. The developers said the use of the modular coil concept means “all return bend solder joints are eliminated, which dramatically reduces the possibility of refrigerant loss.”

The company’s back-to-back, narrow reach-in merchandiser with wraparound ends measures 72 inches wide with a shelf depth of about 22 inches. Officials said this configuration results in about 4 percent less energy used than the company’s standard depth reach-in and requires 9 percent less compressor horsepower on the rack.

Ingersoll-Rand (, parent company of Hussmann, featured another of its businesses, IR Retail Solutions, as being able to “provide total HVAC equipment and service solutions to the food store industry, as well as other commercial and institutional customers.” Officials said the Retail Solutions business analyzes refrigeration equipment, lighting, entry and exit devices, power generators, and energy management systems.

Hill-Phoenix ( was another manufacturer offering a range of new developments in mechanicals, display case innovations, and a range of services for customers.

The company used the occasion to announce the completion of a case coil redesign program for all medium-temperature cases. According to Shawn Kahler, product manager of display cases, “Manufacturers often opt to make the coils bigger and raise surface temperatures. But we believe there is a way to create an evaporator system that maintains the coils’ original size while still boosting efficiency. With this new coil system, temperatures remain the same, but the energy efficiency has increased.”

Part of the equation included the use of an Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) formula for display case energy usage that considers energy required at the rack based on EERs at specific evaporator temperatures and Btu.

“The general design of the coil allows for a reduction in the refrigerant charge,” said Kahler. “Because the new evaporator uses 46 percent less coil volume, we’ve seen 36 to 38 percent reductions in refrigerant charges.”

An example of Hill-Phoenix display cases with new directions in energy efficiency is the Prestige™ line of service cases that feature the Coolgenix™ technology. The company described Coolgenix as “a proprietary, high-performance, secondary coolant case technology that features unparalleled product preservation capabilities. Balanced temperature is achieved in the case with no forced air movement and no moving parts.”

Among display case technology on the show floor was a six-door, refrigerated display case, part of the Origin™ line. The reach-in is 30 inches longer than any other case on the market and is available with shelf depths of up to 27 inches.

“With this six-door display case, you can eliminate an entire case and still achieve the same overall line-up length,” Kahler said.

The company also used the show to announce an alliance with Regal Harvest Meats and the Prizm group, a marketing communications firm. Named Access2, the alliance was formed “to offer grocery retailers increased product and marketing benefits while at the same time reducing costs.” Under the program, retailers receive Hill-Phoenix’s latest display cases, Regal meat products, and marketing help from Prizm.

Access2 is one component of Hill-Phoenix’s Bloc Resources™, which “brings a variety of independent experts together to offer unparalleled benefits to retailers.”

Zero Zone ( noted its custom refrigeration racks. Among the technological aspects, according to the company, are computerized wiring diagrams provided for each system, oversized 4-1/8-inch suction header and an additional accumulator for each suction group, and a 12-gauge electrical panel mounted with vibration-absorbing neoprene well nuts.

The rollout of Carrier (, which is the parent company of Tyler Refrigeration, included the Centurion rooftop for the 12.5- to 25-ton range. EERs are said to be up to 11.6, and the system has independent dual or triple refrigerant circuits with thermal expansion valves.

The company also promoted its remote monitoring capabilities. According to the company, sensors installed in the mechanical equipment — such as pumps, fans, and leak detectors — transmit information to a microprocessor. “All that’s required to transmit the data to the Carrier Monitoring Center is a dedicated phone line,” the company said. “At the CMC, staff uses state-of the-art computer tracking to monitor, re-cord, analyze, and respond.”

Kysor-Warren ( showed a range of food merchandising cases and systems for supermarkets and other retailers. Stress was placed on an alliance partnership with “a small group of key suppliers who have agreed to team with Kysor-Warren to conduct cooperative research, product development, and marketing programs.”

Booth personnel also drew attention to the Einstein E2 controller and ESR suction stepper control, both available through Emerson Climate Technologies.

Hill-Phoenix told attendees at FMI of its ability to answer many questions store owners and installing contractors ask when it comes to mechanical equipment and efficiencies.

Component Considerations

Emerson Climate Technologies ( also offered a variety of services to those trying to build or retrofit a supermarket. For example, the company noted that its Retail Service unit has been awarded a contract to provide energy management services for an additional 209 A&P stores, bringing Emerson’s involvement to 360 stores in the chain. Technicians use the Emerson E-Commissioning™ service that involves a top-to-bottom audit of energy usage and a tuneup for each store’s refrigeration, heating, air conditioning, and lighting systems.

Its Design Service Network was promoted as providing testing and thermal system design capabilities for commercial refrigeration equipment manufacturers. “These capabilities help accelerate the manufacturer’s rate of product innovation and development,” according to officials of Design Service.

In specific products, Emerson drew attention to the Electronic Stepper Regulator (ESR) made by its Flow Controls business (formerly Alco). It is a direct-driven suction regulator that uses a linear actuating bipolar stepper motor to move the piston.

It also drew attention to the E2 controller from its Computer Process Controls (CPC) company. “E2 is the first controller designed in conjunction with other new Emerson products, providing better integration of system technology and more complete data for the customer,” said Tom Bettcher, Emerson’s executive vice president. Officials went on to note that the E2 can work with components and systems beyond those developed through Emerson.

“E2 acts as the ‘nervous system’ for the entire network of equipment and controls within a supermarket,” said Dave Rohn, CPC vice president of engineering. Modeled after common software programs, the menu-driven interface is said to allow users to navigate from screen to screen with the touch of a button.

Emerson also used the expo to introduce a vapor-injected Cope-land scroll compressor for commercial refrigeration applications. Officials said the compressor is designed for low-temperature applications and operates in a similar manner to a mechanically subcooled system. They noted that because the vapor is injected directly into the compression process, the compressor uses a heated exchanger instead of a separate compressor.

“This enables supermarkets to enjoy the benefits of both higher capacity and efficiency, without the addition of a separate compressor for mechanical subcooling,” said officials.

Danfoss ( used FMI to launch Adap-Kool in North America. It was promoted as a second-generation global brand of electronic controls for supermarkets. “The new product platform is designed for total cost-efficiency over the life of the product — focusing on energy consumption, service, and maintenance,” according to a statement from the company. It incorporates advanced control algorithms. The technology was jointly developed by research and development groups in the United States and at the company’s world headquarters in Denmark.

A range of commercial refrigeration products were displayed by KeepRite (, including evaporators, condensing units, and condensers.

GE Industrial Systems ( used the expo for two announcements. The company highlighted the ECM 58 Series fan/motor system for commercial refrigeration and other air-moving applications. According to Keith Selby, ECM market manager, the 58 series “operates at 20 to 25 percent system efficiency, compared to 5 to 10 percent efficiency of systems equipped with shaded, pole motors, which means up to 300 percent energy savings.” He credited this to what he called “optimized design of integral shroud and fan.”

The company also introduced the ECM 84 Series motor for applications up to 90 watts. “It is 40 percent more efficient than a conventional PSC motor,” said Paul Selking, ECM product manager. “The new line is designed for smaller output requirements of energy-recovery ventilators, fancoils, small blowers, fan-filter units, and VAV terminal units.”

Hussmann gave distributed refrigeration technology a higher profile at the FMI Expo by showing its Protocol HE products.

Specialized Innovations

H&R Industries ( showcased its ultra-freeze modular cryogenic freezing system. It uses liquid carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen as the freezing medium. As a product passes through a tunnel, it is sprayed with the liquid refrigerant and quick freezes while minimizing the dehydration rate. An injection control system uses solenoid valves.

Cooltube ( is aptly named; it is a tube that can be retrofitted into refrigeration cases. It contains a single copper evaporator and a plastic tube with directional airflow vents down the coil length. The adjustable slide rings enables airflow to be directed to surface areas that need to remain a certain temperature. It is designed for use from 32 degrees to 41 degrees F.

VaporPlus is a method of protecting perishables from the drying effects of refrigeration, according to Corrigan ( An ultrasonic air-atomizing nozzle is located below the product display rack.

The VaporPlus atomizes water with air to produce a fine vapor. The vapor rises above and around the display area. The droplets readily evaporate into the air around the product, raising relative humidity to around 95 percent. The high relative humidity helps prevent natural moisture in the product from evaporating into the air; the process does not wet the product, according to the manufacturer.

Clive Samuels indicated that there are “no major breakthroughs” in the near future when it comes to supermarket refrigeration.

Technically Speaking

In a technical talk on refrigeration design, Clive Samuels of Clive Samuels Associates ( told attendees that the three major technologies now familiar to contractors and technicians — direct expansion, distributed, and secondary loop — represented the approaches well into the future.

“There is no (new) major breakthrough” to come, he said.

Much of his talk centered on encouraging decision makers to look at distributed technology as a means to reduce the amount of piping (2-1/2 miles in a traditional DX store) and refrigerants (typically 1,400 pounds).

His distributed approach put mechanicals at various locations on the roof of stores with piping directly down to the cases needing cooling. One aspect of this concerns roof weight considerations. Traditional rooftop mechanicals put a lot of weight at one location on the roof, whereas the distributed technology spreads out the weight.

Reduced piping “means less suction line and less pressure drop,” he said.

The toughest challenge to getting a distributed system on-line in a supermarket, according to Samuels, rests with manufacturers, who he said need to give more attention to designing better distributed systems, and contractors and technicians, “who have to change their thinking.”

Publication date: 09/01/2003