Variable Speed Motors & Drives: State-of-the-Art Cool

March 1, 2011
In an era of increased attention to energy savings, refrigeration technology is designed to work smarter.

ECM (electronically commutated motor) technology provides high efficiency and reliability in commercial refrigeration applications that are designed for near continuous operation. More manufacturers are using ECMs in new cases, coolers, and freezers, and the aftermarket retrofit market offers huge savings and profit potential.

ECM technology is based on a brushless direct current (DC), permanent magnet design. The design is inherently more efficient than the alternating current (AC), shaded-pole and permanent-split-capacitor (PSC) motors commonly found in air handlers, furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and refrigeration applications. By combining electronic controls with brushless DC motors, ECMs can maintain efficiency across a wide range of operating speeds. Plus, the electronic controls make most ECMs configurable, allowing for advanced characteristics that are impossible to create using conventional motor technologies.

Some advantages of two-speed or variable speed motors include: reduced noise at lower speed; reduced power consumption at lower speed, and variable rotation.
— Information courtesy Regal-Beloit.

A.O. Smith
The A.O. Smith iMotor™ is a new bearing, ECM designed as a direct drop-in replacement for a supermarket case evaporator fans, replacing hundreds of OEM shaded-pole-evaporator fan motors. The motor is available in 9- and 16-WATT designs.
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The Baldor Super-E® motor has NEMA Premium® efficiency and complies with the latest Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requirements. The motor is Inverter-Ready,has precision ball bearings with Exxon Polyrex® EM grease and precision balance. Motors with a choice of ODP, TEFC, TEAO and OAP enclosures are available from 1/2- through 500-hp in 200, 230/460 and 575 volt 60 Hz ratings.
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The Bitzer Ecostar features include a speed-controlled compressor and speed-controlled condensor fans. company sources say the series represents a technical and economical alternative to using several small, fully-hermetic units. The cooling capacity can be adapted to actual requirements which considerably increases the efficiency of the refrigeration system.
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Morrill Motors
Sources from Morrill Motors report that the ICE 59 is the commercial refrigeration industry’s first “smart,” 74.6 watt ECM motor. The ICE 59 outperforms both shaded pole and PSC technology, sources say. Features include variable speed and digital serial interface via a proprietary AirKom protocol. With efficiencies three times higher than shaded pole motors and 40% higher than PSC, the ICE 59 provides a reliable energy savings solution.
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Variable Frequency Drives

The use of variable-frequency drives (VFDs) in supermarkets to control compressor and fan motors has become a key factor in reducing energy costs, enhancing product life and salability, and improving equipment service life. For outdoor condensers, drives using variable-speed have made important contributions to noise abatement. Frequently starting and stopping motors and continually accelerating them to full speed eliminates opportunities for reducing energy costs. VFDs can help in both of these areas as well as provide better product environments.
— Information Courtesy Danfoss

The ACH550 drive from ABB is ideal for condensor fans because it allows setting a target head pressure and modulating fan speed to maintain head pressure; additionally, these drives use a very simple principle and method to implemen, provide the lowest energy-consumption-control alternative, modulate all condensers the same in systems with multiple evaporative condensers, and result in smoother system operation, with minimal transients.
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The energy-saving AKD 102 provides exact load matching for commercial refrigeration, and is the industry’s first variable capacity drive that is programmed using refrigeration terms familiar to refrigeration technicians rather than computer electronics people. A setup “Wizard” and on line manual also simplify work for OEM, installer, and service technicians. The AKD 102 drive received a 2009 AHR Exposition Innovation Award for Refrigeration.
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Emerson Controlled Techniques
Emerson’s Control Techniques drives are engineered to save up to 30% of energy, when fitted to commercial refrigeration installations, as they improve system operation. Benefits include: higher cooling quality increases shelf life of cooled goods; optimal starting performance increases the lifetime of the system’s mechanics; and reduced starting currents, which help reduce overall operating costs.
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Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric’s Modicon™ M168™ Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), is designed to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end users improve performance, optimize costs and speed time-to-market. Using flexible architectures, customized design and SoHVAC™ software, which allows single programming and commissioning, the new controller offers solutions for small/medium chillers, roof top units, refrigeration racks, and air handling units.
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Yaskawa Electric America’s line of E7 drives is used exclusively for commercial HVAC applications. Features include embedded building automation serial communications. Bypass and enclosure options are available. Embedded in the new drive are communications for building automation protocols: Johnson Controls Metasys® N2, Siemens Apogee™ FLN, and Modbus. An optional LonWorks® interface card is also available.
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Variable Speed Compressors

The Danfoss Performer VSH was the first high capacity scroll compressor for R-410A, mated with a variable frequency drive, sources report. The tandem is designed and manufactured specifically for each other, and crafted to deliver exactly the capacity required for cooling every minute of the day. Energy savings with VSH can exceed 20%. The delivered capacity range is from 3.5 to 23 tons. The Performer VSH solution received the 2009 AHR Exposition’s Innovation Award for Cooling.
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Emerson Climate Technologies
Emerson Climate Technologies, Inc. has released the Copeland Discus® with CoreSense™ Protection, an advancement to its semi-hermetic compressor line that uses the compressor as a sensor to monitor operating conditions within the compressor. Emerson now integrates CoreSense technology across the entire Copeland Discus compressor line up to 6 cylinder capacity.
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Tecumseh Products Company has introduce the all-new AE2 next generation compressor, developed for the global commercial refrigeration market. The AE2 was designed to satisfy today’s most severe energy requirements as well as those of the future.

The new AE2 will support traditional HFC refrigerants — R134a and R404A, it’s also optimized for hydrocarbon refrigerants — R290 (propane) and R600a (isobutene).