Mirai R290 turbo compressor
Image via Mirai Intex.

Mirai Intex Finishes Stress Tests of ‘First-Ever’ R290 Turbo Compressor for Commercial and Industrial Applications

With ongoing preparations for large-scale manufacturing, the company plans to open orders for 230 and 350kW models this fall.

Czech Republic-based Mirai Intex, a manufacturer of ultra-low-temperature systems using air-cycle technology, has announced the completion of stress testing on what it is calling the “world’s first” propane (R290) turbo compressor.

The company has also announced that it is preparing for large-scale manufacturing of the new centrifugal/axial compressors, which are designed for commercial and industrial applications. It plans to open orders for its MT230 and MT350 models in late September or early October. The MT230 has a cooling capacity of 230kW (65TR), with the MT350 offering a cooling capacity of 350kW (100TR).

“The introduction of the MT230 and MT350 turbo compressors marks a significant shift toward more sustainable and efficient cooling technologies,” Mirai Intex told NaturalRefrigerants.com.

The technology: According to Mirai Intex, development on its R290 turbo compressor “started years ago,” with the company relying on its “extensive experience” with air-turbo refrigeration machines. The company was awarded Innovation of the Year at the 2019 ATMOsphere Europe Summit for its COLD 15 air-cycle refrigeration machine, which provides cooling down to −130°C (−202°F) using ambient air. ATMOsphere is the publisher of NaturalRefrigerants.com.

  • The gas bearings on the R290 turbo compressor allow oil-free operation, which the company said reduces capital costs and maintenance requirements and ensures stability in power outages.
  • Mirai Intex indicates designing the unit for a 20-year continuous operation lifespan “without the need for maintenance or intervention.”
  • According to the company, the unit operates vibration-free with “extremely” low noise levels compared to other compressor technologies, while “advanced controls” manage gas pressure and flow rates to optimize operation.

New markets: Mirai Intex is known for its air-cycle refrigeration machines, which provide cooling at −40 to −110°C (−40 to −166°F) for use in numerous industries, including pharmaceutical, freeze drying, steel hardening, frozen tuna storage, semiconductor manufacturing and more. Its new propane compressors support medium- and low- temperature cooling ranges, moving the company into new markets.

  • “This development opens opportunities, particularly with manufacturers of water- and air-cooled chillers for industrial and commercial applications,” the company told NaturalRefrigerants.com.
  • Mirai Intex also said it expects the compressors “to become highly demanded” by heat pump manufacturers for their ability to increase performance and reduce operating costs.
  • Though it will be released globally, the unit’s initial availability will focus on regions with “strong commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors keen on adopting sustainable technologies, such as Europe,” Mirai Intex told NaturalRefrigerants.com.

What it means for NatRefs: The new R290 turbo compressors provide a natural refrigerant alternative to centrifugal compressors using f-gas refrigerants. This alternative is important because HFO-1234ze, commonly used in centrifugal compressors, was recently found by researchers to react with ozone when released into the atmosphere and form R23, a super greenhouse gas with a 100-year GWP of 14,800.

  • “As the first turbo compressor to utilize propane, [it] sets a new standard for environmentally friendly refrigeration, addressing the growing regulatory and market demand for low-GWP refrigerants,” the company told NaturalRefrigerants.com.

Quotable: “As the first turbo compressor using propane, with oil-free operation and an advanced control range, it offers superior performance and energy efficiency, which can lead to reduced operational costs and a smaller environmental footprint for end users,” the company told NaturalRefrigerants.com. “This innovation highlights [our] commitment to environmental sustainability.”

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