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Copeland oil-free compressor uses new bearing technology

USA: Copeland has announced the release of its new oil-free centrifugal compressor with self-levitating frictionless bearing technology for chiller applications.

The compressor is said to be engineered to be a worry-free alternative to existing magnetic levitation bearing and refrigerant-lubricated ceramic compression technology, while delivering high-lift performance, reliability, and efficiency enhancements.

Designed for mission-critical data centre, health care, large chiller and heat recovery applications, it is said to offer high reliability in full- and part-load conditions and an expanded operating envelope for high-ambient applications. 

Copeland says that its Aero-lift bearing technology enables the compressor shaft to self-levitate and operate independently — without friction or reliance on electromagnetics, complex controls, or proximity sensors. 

Performance improvements are promised during power interruptions, enabling the compressor to coast smoothly, shut down and restart rapidly to minimise application disruptions. This is also said to eliminate the need for backup auxiliary bearings and maintains redundancy in these scenarios.

To meet the need for greater design and application flexibility, the Copeland oil-free centrifugal compressor is decoupled from the controls and variable frequency drive (VFD) — helping OEMs to design systems capable of withstanding harsh, humid application environments that could potentially damage controls. 

This new oil-free centrifugal compressor platform is being developed for the 50-200 ton capacity range and is optimised for use with lower-GWP A2L HFCs and HFO refrigerants such as R1234ze, R515B and R513A. 

Thousands of hours of testing is said to have shown up an increase in full-load efficiency of up to 10% compared to other compression technologies in air-cooled applications. It also delivers up to a 40% efficiency increase in integrated part-load value — far exceeding the ASHRAE 90.1 efficiency minimum requirements for a two-compressor, 200 ton system, versus existing screw technology. 

While actively working with OEMs and consultants to deploy the technology in the United States, Canada, and Latin America, Copeland plans to progressively expand the product globally.


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