Emerson Climate Technologies, a St. Louis, Mo.-based business segment of Emerson, installed a model supermarket, complete with refrigerated cases, dry goods shelves and point-of-sale terminals, in its Helix innovation center on the University of Dayton campus, Dayton, Ohio.

The 2,500-square-foot supermarket module will support research on supermarket and convenience store refrigeration, including system controls and alternative refrigerants, lighting and HVAC. The module is being constructed by Emerson as one of five research areas within the innovation center.

“Our work in The Helix will be highly collaborative,” says Mitch Knapke, director of food retail marketing and business development at Emerson Climate Technologies’ refrigeration business. “We look forward to the opportunity to get into this space with our customers and industry partners to test and evaluate new approaches to the retail experience, from food safety to lighting to HVAC and new refrigerants.”

Emerson’s supermarket module will include a transcritical CO2 booster refrigeration system, which will chill the model supermarket’s refrigeration cases, walk-in cooler and support the HVAC system. The CO2 system will also be used to provide building heat and hot water and even heat the sidewalk to melt the snow.

Testing and research in the supermarket module will include temperature and humidity variations using an environmental chamber that can simulate -20°F to 120°F. The facility will also feature Emerson controls and sensors.

“We want to study the entire supermarket and c-store experience, not just from an equipment standpoint but from the point of view of a shopper,” says Rajan Rajendran, vice president, system innovation center and sustainability. “We want to make this as real world as possible, looking at system performance on very hot days, for example, and evaluating systems holistically for their environmental impact.”

About The Helix innovation center
The supermarket module is one of five modules currently under construction at The Helix innovation center, a nearly 40,000-square-foot facility on the University of Dayton campus. Emerson’s $35 million total investment in The Helix will foster an ambitious, collaborative approach to conducting research to create new technologies that address heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry challenges.

The Helix, which will be operational in December, will eventually employ about 35 people and focus on five HVACR industry markets—supermarket refrigeration, foodservice operations, residential connected homes, data center cooling and light commercial buildings. 

Emerson plans for The Helix to be a global hub of HVACR industry education. In addition to the five modules, the facility includes three learning labs and will host on-site industry meetings and forums for HVACR professionals.