Regal Beloit Corp., a Beloit, Wis.-based manufacturer of electric motors and other devices, has designed a new motor and fan for commercial refrigeration applications compatible with the refrigerant R290.

The motor and fan, called the “GlacAir Air-flow Solution,” is compatible with R290 and is certified by ATEX (a European Union directive that controls the manufacturing of flammable and explosive products in pressured environments).

ATEX certification means the motor has been designed not to generate any sparks, noted James Steele, Regal’s commercial refrigeration group business leader, at the AHR Expo in Chicago last month. ATEX is “European-based as that’s where propane started and now it’s been adopted here in the U.S.”  The system is also UL- and CE-certified

The GlacAir has an axial-flux electronically commutated motor (ECM) design that helps increase the energy efficiency of commercial refrigeration cases such as displays and reach-in coolers, along with vending machines. The product consumes 85% fewer watts compared to a shaded pole motor, according to Regal.

“Recognizing the critical need for end users to reduce watt usage, we focused on a solution that not only offers that 85 percent reduction but also increases motor efficiency by 12 percent compared to a standard ECM,” said Sylvia Feng of Regal. It also includes a universal voltage feature.

The fan motor also has a smaller design and lower noise level that is compatible with hydrocarbon-based products; it offers a 4 dBA noise reduction from that of a standard ECM. Steele explained that smaller propane compressors make less noise than other models, leaving the sound of the fan more noticeable. However, that “noise goes away and you don’t hear our motor,” he said. “It’s a much more pleasant experience.”

The company has also integrated a BlakBox diagnostics tool that allows near field and power-line communication to analyse “motor failure based on temperature data, speed and torque, and provide the opportunity for preventative maintenance,” said Regal.

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