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First propane supermarket opens in USA


USA: What is claimed to be the first US supermarket to use propane refrigerant has opened in Austin, Texas.

The new 83,000ft2 H E Butt Grocery Company (H-E-B) store is using integral Hussmann display cabinets and coolers with Tecumseh AE2 compressors.

Hussmann is said to have worked closely with H-E-B and several US government and safety agencies in developing the regulations and approval processes to enable the safe use of propane in a supermarket application. This included optimizing equipment designs based on EPA limitations of 150g per system.

“In view of the fact that we were using propane, safety was always our top priority – from the store personnel, to the customers in the store, as well as the perishables in the refrigerated display merchandisers,” said Norm Street, Hussmann’s director new technology development,


“Our ultimate goal with this project is a 70% energy reduction from all the store systems,” commented Charlie Wernette, H-E-B’s director of engineering. “We believe that a R290 hydrocarbon (propane) system will achieve approximately 50% energy reduction compared to our typical store refrigeration load. We wanted to find another natural refrigerant alternative as we are not convinced that CO2 is the long term solution for H-E-B,” he added.

A majority of the display cases and walk-in coolers utilize Tecumseh condensing units, over 40% of which are equipped with the company’s new AE2 series compressor.

Calling on over ten years of hydrocarbon application and compressor knowledge, Tecumseh took extra precautions to minimize potential refrigerant leak points, while still ensuring ease of serviceability. The reduced sound level of the AE2 compressor was also seen as another benefit, when used in self-contained display cases.

A privately-owned San Antonio-based supermarket chain, H-E-B has more than 350 stores throughout Texas and northern Mexico. Central Market, an organic and fine foods retailer is also part of the group. Total revenue in 2012 was over $18bn.


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