Brazilian compressor manufacturer Embraco, owned by Nidec Global Appliances, presented case studies demonstrating that equipment using propane (R290) variable-speed compressors can outperform conventional systems in energy efficiency, temperature recovery time, noise output, and operating temperature.

Embraco’s “rich catalogue of variable speed compressors show higher efficiency and energy savings, backed up by case studies,” said Luciano Vambommel, Application Engineering Manager for Latin America, Commercial Refrigeration for Nidec/Embraco, during a session at ATMOsphere America’s Latin America-focused program in Spanish on October 22. (The online conference was organized by shecco, publisher of this website.)

In addition to being more efficient, hydrocarbons are a better choice of refrigerant because they are have a negligible impact on the environment, are safe when using new technology, and result in lower operating temperatures, extending the life of compressors, said Vambommel,

Vambommel pointed out that in Latin America, large beverage and ice cream brands “have already adopted the technology,” and a large number of R290 cabinets were being imported from Europe and China.

One case study presented by Vambommel focused on a 1120l (35.3ft3) bottle cooler. Using R134a with an on/off compressor as a baseline, the beverage cooler was able to achieve a 35.9% reduction in energy consumption when switching to R290. When using a variable-speed compressor and R290, it achieved a 53.4% energy reduction in comparison to the baseline.

An additional advantage was the reduction of temperature recovery time by 36.8% when using a variable-speed compressor.

Efficient freezer

In another case study presented by Vambommel, a 2.2m (7.22ft)-long horizontal island freezer from Fricon with a 2,200l (78ft3) volume was converted from an on/off compressor using R404a to a variable speed compressor using R290.

The freezer saw a 32.5% reduction in energy consumption, with an additional advantage of decreased noise produced by the variable speed compressor.

Vambommel highlighted several challenges to increasing use of R290 in the region, including local regulations/construction codes, charge limits, the cost of adapting existing facilities, transitioning to self-contained units, the certification of technicians, and the development of a replacement parts market in the region.

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