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Craft makes first complete R-290 commercial system

SAN DIEGO, California, 13 April 2021: US-based contract manufacturer, Craft said it has designed its first complete propane (R-290) refrigeration system that includes a condenser, compressor and evaporator for a US-based display case OEM, Hydrocarbons21.com reported on its Web site.

It is the latest move by Craft in the R-290 commercial refrigeration space, where it has stepped up its investment in the past year, Hydrocarbons21.com said.

The OEM, which had approached Craft about making the R-290 system, will begin marketing the cabinet “in the next few months,” said Dean Rafiee, Partner and Managing Director, Craft. “We will go into mass production by July.” He declined to name the OEM without their permission, Hydrocarbons21.com said. Craft, which focuses primarily on the North American market, will also manufacture its own version of the R-290 refrigeration system over the next few months, Hydrocarbons21.com quoted Rafiee as saying.

Craft R290 condensing unit

According to Hydrocarbons21.com, since 2016, Craft has manufactured Thermocraft R-290 condensing units for retail cabinets and other applications, first under the SF line and, then, the more efficient EH line. R-290 condensing units comprise about 10% of the condensing units manufactured by Craft, which also makes units for HFO blends R-448A, R-449A and R-513, and for R-404A, Hydrocarbons21.com said.

However, Rafiee sees a “big trend” to R-290 refrigeration among Craft’s OEM customers, Hydrocarbons21.com said. “The number of clients contacting us for R290 is amazing,” Rafiee said. “They see that’s where the future is headed, and they want to be there with the right products.”

Over the past year, Craft has been preparing for that future by making a “significant investment” in its manufacturing capability for R-290 products, along with testing chambers and charging functionality, Hydrocarbons21.com said.

“We see [HFO blends] as a transitional fluid, which is why we have invested so much in R-290 over the past year,” he said. “We are always directing our clients to R-290, to make an early investment, so later on they can compete in the marketplace.”

Hydrocarbons21.com quoted Rafiee as saying that R-290 compressor manufacturers, especially Embraco, “have taken the efficiency of R-290 compressors to the next level”. Craft employs Embraco and Cubigel (Huayi) compressors in its EH line of R290 condensing units, Hydrocarbons21.com said.

Craft’s EH Series R290 single-speed, air-cooled condensing units range from 1/5 to 3/4HP and are available for medium/high and low temperatures, Hydrocarbons21.com said, adding that they feature EC motors and condensers with 7mm tubes that “optimize the charge of refrigerant gas required,”

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