The Expand project (www.expand.fp7.co), is funded by the European Commission under the umbrella of the Framework 7 programm. It focuses on the development of an expansion valve for CO2 and hydrocarbon refrigerants to reduce the energy consumption of cold vending machines and small commercial coolers. In this project Re/genT is one of the technical research partners. Next to this Re/genT is coordinator of this project and responsible for the overall management of the project.
Small refrigeration systems as used in vending machines use capillaries as the expansion device, however they do not enable optimal operation over the range of refrigeration loads. Away from design point load, the efficiency drops due to sub-optimal filling of the evaporator. More advanced control systems may be introduced by replacing the capiliary with an expansion valve, however for refrigeration systems in the lower cooling capacity ranges, they are challenging to manufacture cost effectively. As a result the Expand project will develop a low cost expansion device for HC and CO2 refrigerants together with a control system that will enable efficient modulation of refrigeration system capacity in relation to load. This will enable cumulative energy consumption savings of 25% for the cooler in relation to present HFC systems.