Structural Concepts Achieves Up to 53% Energy Savings with Embraco R290 Variable-Speed Condensing Units

Date: 21 June 2024
Structural Concepts Achieves Up to 53% Energy Savings with Embraco R290 Variable-Speed Condensing Units
Embraco, a global provider of refrigeration technology under the Nidec Global Appliance portfolio, in partnership with Structural Concepts, a leading manufacturer of temperature-controlled display cases, showcased a compelling case study at the ATMOsphere America Summit 2024. This study highlighted the transition of Structural Concepts’ product portfolio to natural refrigerant R290 and variable-speed technology, resulting in up to 53% energy savings.

Transition to Sustainable Technology 

Structural Concepts migrated its refrigerated food displays from fixed-speed compressors using HFO refrigerants (R449A and R513A) to Embraco UFMFT condensing units with dual voltage variable-speed compressors, using R290 natural refrigerant. This transition was monitored in two applications to compare the new setup with the previous configuration:

  • Under-Counter Application: One refrigeration circuit using less than 150 grams of R290 achieved 53% energy savings and a 55% reduction in Total Equivalent Warming Impact (TEWI).
  • Upright Grab-and-Go Display Case: Two refrigeration circuits (each with less than 150 grams of R290) saw an 11% reduction in energy consumption and a 17% decrease in TEWI.

Additionally, a horizontal display case (1.20 x 2.40 meters) with two refrigeration circuits using R290 and variable-speed compressors demonstrated a 12% energy saving after installing the new Embraco Sync Controller.

Efficient and Sustainable Solutions 

The Embraco Sync is part of the Sync it All portfolio, which includes the Embraco AIR fan, the YouControl development interface, and Embraco variable-speed compressors. Johari Gregorio, Nidec Global Appliance’s Application Engineer for North America, explained that the new controller enhances energy efficiency and temperature stability by synchronizing with two Embraco variable-speed compressors.

Manufacturing Simplification and Compliance 

This transition simplified Structural Concepts’ manufacturing process, reducing the number of compressor models from 38 to just two Embraco condensing unit models. Rob Dody, Structural’s Senior Engineering Manager, highlighted the benefits of the compact UFMFT model, which fits all cabinets, provides more display space, and has an effective drain pan system.

The transition also ensures compliance with upcoming regulatory standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will limit the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of commercial food refrigeration equipment to 150 starting January 2025. Structural Concepts is already compliant with these regulations and prepared for future Department of Energy regulations.

Environmental Impact and Market Alignment 

The overall portfolio migration is estimated to reduce Structural Concepts’ TEWI by 33% on average, significantly lowering CO2 emissions. Rob Dody noted that migrating to variable-speed technology and natural refrigerant has enabled Structural Concepts to offer more efficient and environmentally sustainable products that align with customer expectations and market demands.

Operational Benefits 

Johari Gregorio emphasized that buying the complete condensing unit ready to install into applications saves manufacturers time and effort, allowing them to focus on their core business. This approach benefits refrigeration equipment manufacturers for food retail, such as Structural Concepts.

The collaboration between Embraco and Structural Concepts represents a significant step towards sustainable refrigeration solutions, offering substantial energy savings and environmental benefits.

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