UPDATE: AHR EXPO 2014: hydrocarbons product suppliers charged up for growth

By Ginta Vanaga, Mar 13, 2014, 10:06 5 minute reading

Attracting more than 38,000 buyers and 1,900 exhibiting companies, the 2014 AHR Expo in New York City, organised from the 21-23 January, was undoubtedly one of the largest HVAC events of the year. hydrocarbons21.com was on site to take the temperature of the market, which is rising gradually, although not as quickly as first anticipated, and to report on the R290 and R600a products on show, which this year included compressors, condensing units, and charging equipment.

For commercial systems such as those used by supermarkets and in light commercial applications, natural refrigerants are experiencing a major resurgence because of their low GWP and higher level of energy efficiency. As evidence of this trend, several leading compressor and appliance manufacturers were on site at the 2014 New York AHR EXPO to market lines of products designed to accommodate hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants.

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Embraco: With a wide variety of hydrocarbon compressors on display, embraco were keen to demonstrate their R290 and R600a expertise for residential and commercial applications to a US audience. On show were the following:

  • NT: propane compressors with increased displacement of 27.8 cc, low energy consumption and noise levels.
  • NEU: billed as the “evolution of the NEK” the propane NEU compressor is ideal for use in commercial kitchens, such as in refrigerated islands, and includes an IPR valve, high efficiency and increased cooling capacity.
  • UFU: designed for ice machines these R290 condensing units have a capacity of 1360 Btu and an efficiency of 5.15 – 5.28 Btu/h depending on the voltage.
  • FFU: the embraco F series are used in applications such as medium-sized commercial and vertical displays and horizontal freezers for ice cream.
  • NTU: designed for ice machines the NTU propane compressors have protections against liquid return and flooded start, and are approved for over 20k defrost cycles.
  • EM: the small size EM is one of the best selling high-tech compressors sold around the world, ideal for domestic refrigeration and small commercial applications. These compressors achieve the highest efficiency levels available in the market for this category of compressor.

Doug Schmidt, Embraco’s sales manager for commercial products in North America, also presented an overview of the evolution of the US HVAC market, where hydrocarbons have only recently been allowed. He highlighted the fact that no f-gas refrigerants have as yet been banned in the US, unlike in Europe, where an informal agreement to introduce f-gases bans for domestic refrigeration, and commercial refrigeration has been reached.

With regards to the US market for hydrocarbons, Schmidt said, “personally speaking I see a lot of interest in testing. There is some change but there is no rapid adoption yet and we are not selling in high volume”. This has in part explained by the 150g charge limit, and the EPA mandate for refrigerant gas recovery applicable to hydrocarbons until only very recently.

Parker-SPORLAN: In a presentation on the topic of hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants (discussed in a separate article) Parker-SPORLAN drew attention to the fact that their thermostatic expansion valves (TEV) such as type BBI, CBBI, R, EBS, and O can be utilised with hydrocarbons R600a, R290, and R170 (ethane) refrigerants.

Tecumseh: Celebrating their 80th anniversary, Tecumseh demonstrated their extensive range of hydrocarbon refrigerant compressors, all designed with electrical components that are “spark-free”. In partnership with Hussmann Corporation and H-E-B Grocery, Tecumseh supplied the compressors for the first U.S. based supermarket to use R290 condensing units in the majority of the store’s refrigerated display cases. On display at the booth were:

  • AE2: Tecumseh’s range of AE2 series of compact-sized compressors are ideal for limited-space installations and applications such as beverage coolers, display cases, commercial kitchen equipment. On display at the booth was the AE2 air cooled compressor, with a capacity range of 700 to 4000 Btu/h, and the AE2 water cooled compressor with a capacity range of 600 to 4250 Btu/h. Both are designed for low, medium and high evaporation temperatures.
  • TH: the compact and energy efficient TH model could also be seen on display, ideal for use in sound sensitive applications due to its low noise levels. These compressors have a capacity range of 180 to 1400 Btu/h.

Keith Gifford, Tecumseh director of global marketing said, “The AHR Expo is a great kick-off to 2014 as Tecumseh prepares to roll-out more new products, promotions and support tools. This is our biggest show of the year and we’re excited to be able to share our 80th Anniversary milestone with customers and friends from around the world.”

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ComStar: Comstar exhibited their line of HVACR chemical products and hydrocarbon refrigerants for new equipment applications, R441a (replacement for 134a) and R443a (replacement for R22 & R410a); both of which have EPA approval for multiple applications. They also featured their award winning "no heat liquid solders" Copper Lock (for copper & brass) and METAL LOCK BLACK (good for all metals, including aluminium); both are alternatives to standard "sweat" or "torch" soldering.

Galileo TP: The charging specialist exhibited their safe charging expertise for hydrocarbon refrigerants. The automatic evacuation and charging stations ALGOR K and HABILIS K are both suitable for hydrocarbons, and have automatic circuit evacuation capability, vacuum check, gross leak test and refrigerant charge.

hydrocarbon products by other companies

AGRAMKOW: On display at the company booth was charging equipment suitable for flammable refrigerants called PROMAX, which offers speeds of up to 320g/sec and supreme accuracy and flexibility. The moveable MPC controller can be placed in the most suitable location for the application, and provides instant email information in case of faults. What is more, the user friendly MPC does not require programming skills.

Emerson: As part of their commercial refrigeration technology display Emerson showcased their R290 ASE compressor, with optimised valves and motor, and up to 10% EER improvement.

Multinational Chinese electronics company TLC provided a glimpse of their HC air conditioning expertise, with marketing materials referring to their R290 units.


By Ginta Vanaga

Mar 13, 2014, 10:06

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