Hydrocarbon-based compressor manufacturer Embraco, part of Nidec Global Appliance, is expanding its business from the production of compressors to condensing units and “complete systems” as well, according to Valter Taranzano, President and CEO of Nidec Appliance, Commercial and Industrial Motors, which oversees Nidec Global Appliance.

“We already have a large [compressor] market share [within commercial refrigeration], so it’s almost impossible to grow organically in the same segment,” said Taranzano in an interview at last month’s Chillventa tradeshow. For this reason, the company is moving from an emphasis on compressors to include new condensing units and complete systems.

As evidence of this shift, Embraco showcased its new propane (R290)-based indoor condensing units at the exhibition, which took place in Nuremberg, Germany, October 11–13.

The unhoused units, which are available in Europe, are designed for a range of low-temperature (LT) and medium-temperature (MT) commercial applications, such as under-counters, blast chillers, cold rooms and reach-ins.

The standard unit is available with a fixed- or variable-speed compressor and can be fitted with additional components like a receiver, valves and a liquid line. Customized units can also be developed according to customers’ needs.

For LT applications, the condensing unit can offer up to 0.6kW (0.2TR) cooling capacity with variable speed and 1kW (0.3TR) with fixed speed at an evaporative temperature of -35°C (-31°F). For MT applications, the unit can deliver up to 1.5kW (0.4TR) with variable speed and up to 2.8kW (0.8TR) with fixed speed at an evaporative temperature of -10°C (14°F).

Embraco is also currently working on producing a CO2 (R744) version of its Bioma outdoor condensing unit, according to Gilmar Pirovano, Business Director, Commercial Appliance for Europe, Middle East and Africa. The Bioma units currently available use HFCs.

Growth of R290 plug-ins

According to Peter Buksar, Technical Support Manager at Embraco, the manufacturer is seeing a big demand for hydrocarbons in supermarket cabinets, with many end users moving from HFC-based split systems to R290-based plug-in equipment. This is, in part, due to the low noise levels of new variable-speed plug-in units, he added.

This demand has led to the development of many of Embraco’s products, like its R290 indoor condensing unit, its plug-in cooler and the miniaturization of its compressors.

As food retail stores transition from remote systems to self-contained cases, the size and noise level of components have become important factors, explained Pirovano. Because of this, Embraco has invested in acoustics and making its compressors more compact to maximize retail space for end users. He also noted that by making its components smaller, the company is able to reduce resource use and transportation.

40% less energy

In addition to making its compressors more compact, Embraco is seeing demand for energy efficiency as a significant driver for the development of its product portfolio, said both Taranzano and Pirovano. This demand is linked to concern about the cost of energy around the world.

“There’s a transition from fixed-speed to variable-speed compressors to deliver cost saving on energy,” said Taranzano. “With a combination of natural refrigerants and the variable speed, we are able to reduce energy consumption by 40%, and, in a supermarket, 40% less on the cost of energy is making a big difference.”

“With a combination of natural refrigerants and the variable speed, we are able to reduce energy consumption by 40%, and in a supermarket, 40% less on the cost of energy is making a big difference.”

Valter Taranzano, Nidec Appliance, Commercial and Industrial Motors

“It’s important to highlight that the movement to natural refrigerants brings an advantage to energy savings, and then on top of this, investing in the top-efficiency machines and electronics, we can reach more than 40% [reduced energy consumption] in many cases,” added Pirovano.

However, Buksar pointed out that the potential efficiency savings that can be achieved with variable-speed depend on both the compressor and the efficiency of the application it goes into.

For example, according to a case study presented by Embraco, by replacing a current portfolio fixed-speed compressor with its new VNEX variable-speed unit, an end user can see an 11.2% reduction in energy consumption for a two-door reach-in freezer.

Another case study details that by moving from a 2017 fixed-speed NEU compressor to an FMF variable-speed unit, an end user could reduce the energy consumption of a single-door freezer by 42%.

According to Buksar, many OEMs are still uncertain about switching to variable-speed technologies, in part due to the efficiency of Embraco’s fixed-speed compressors. However, with the upcoming ECO DESIGN legislation, he points out that within a few years, there will be no choice but to go with variable-speed and encourages customers to not wait until the last minute to change.

Marino Bassi, Key Account Senior Advisor for Commercial Business at Embraco will be at next week’s ATMO Europe conference in Brussels, discussing the energy efficiency of its R290-based variable-speed compressor technology. ATMO Europe is organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of hydrocarbons21.com.

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