New trends in medical refrigeration


Embraco sees an increase in customers demand for energy efficiency and low noise in medical applications, in addition to reliability



September 2020 – The proper conservation of medicines, research samples, blood banks and other medical items are indispensable in the health sector, in which refrigeration has an essential role. When products like those get deteriorated due to lack of proper conservation, it can add risks to patient’s health and the financial loss is also significant. In moments like the current ones, where the world is fighting against a virus, health infrastructure and refrigeration for medical applications play an even bigger role, having reliability as its first priority. 

“Every medical material must be kept inside a specific temperature range. For example, test samples for Covid-19 must be kept in the temperature range of 2°C to 8°C”, explains John Prall, Technical Support Engineer for commercial refrigeration at Nidec Global Appliance, holder of the Embraco brand, a global reference in technology for the complete domestic and commercial cold chain. Embraco has been strengthening its position in medical refrigeration since 2011, when it started producing compressors optimized for ultra low temperature applications, in which the temperature inside the cabinet reaches up to -80°C. 

In recent years, concerns other than reliability have been added to this equation, strengthening a trend towards variable speed compressors (VCC). “We have noticed that refrigeration equipment manufacturers and end users are also looking for solutions that reduce energy consumption and noise, since these applications have to stay on 24/7, and that can be obtained with variable speed compressors”, states Prall. 

Variable speed: low noise and reduced energy consumption

Variable speed compressors are leading this transformation because of its ability to deliver the cooling capacity demanded by the application for a rigorous temperature control and recovery. In addition, there is the improved startability even under voltage fluctuation, which guarantees the compressor will keep the goods refrigerated in moments when fixed speed compressors (also known as on-off) would not. VCCs also maximize the energy efficiency and reach very low noise levels, ideal for silent environments like medical or research facilities. 


In 2015, Embraco co-developed, with a leading medical cases manufacturer, a solution for ultra low freezer for biomedical, chemical and specialty industries that was able to reduce up to 47% the energy consumption in comparison to a fixed speed compressor. Three design elements made this level of savings possible: the use of high efficient natural refrigerant (propane R-290 for the high stage and ethane R170 for the low stage), variable speed technology and patented controls with algorithm development. Fast door open recovery, high cargo volume and lower noise and vibration are additional benefits obtained for this application.


In 2018, Embraco partnered with another customer to develop a solution for an undercounter refrigerator designed to safeguard clinical samples and medical products. The project involved changes in the compressor, fan motor and refrigerant. The new solution included an Embraco variable speed compressor, a quiet EC (Electronically Commutated) fan motor and the use of natural refrigerant, isobutane (R600a). The result was a lighter, more efficient and quieter equipment, 55% of reduction on the environmental impact due to CO2 emissions and a controlled temperature amplitude from 2.5°C to 0.6°C. Besides providing tight temperature control, the solution was able to help the OEM to address regulatory drivers, such as the transition from high GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants and reduce energy consumption, meet evolving customer requirements and enhance value of the product while managing costs. The end-user also benefited with the low cost of ownership, faster pull-down, noise reduction and improved serviceability by having reduced downtime.


Variable speed compressors provide more stable cooling, helping the appliance reach the temperature set point up to 20% faster and reducing the energy consumption in 30% to 40% on average (based on configuration settings), when compared to fixed speed models. That is because the on-off technology operates at a constant speed, continuously switching on and off to meet the equipment’s temperature set point, while the VCC rarely turns off and is able to control its running speed according to the demanded temperature, recovering much faster from door openings. Another benefit is that variable speed compressors operate with 15% to 20% lower noise than equivalent fixed speed.


Embraco’s portfolio for medical applications

Embraco has a portfolio to fit different applications and cooling needs for the medical and scientific sector. In variable speed technology the latest products family is the FMF, combining low noise and vibration with the highest energy efficiency in the market, for upright and undercounter freezers of ultra low temperature. There is also the FMX family, a compact compressor, with low noise and vibration, indicated for upright and undercounter refrigerators. Both families were designed to operate with extremely low GWP natural refrigerants, propane (R290) and isobutane (R600a).

Among fixed speed compressors, the main solutions are: the NT family, which offers high starting torque and robustness for upright freezers used in the scientific field, specially for ultra low temperature applications in labs, hospitals or universities; NE, that adds lower size, noise and vibration to a high starting torque platform, indicated for upright and undercounter freezers for medical applications; and EM, a compact size and low noise solution with high levels of energy efficiency, ideal for undercounter freezers and refrigerated incubators. 


About Embraco

Since 1971, Embraco has been a global reference in technology for the complete domestic and commercial cold chain, counting on a broad, efficient and competitive portfolio for household, food service, food retail, merchandisers and special applications. As part of Nidec Global Appliance, a division of Nidec Corporation, its solutions are differentiated by innovation that exceeds customer’s most challenging expectations. Further information:

About Nidec Global Appliance

With over 15,000 employees across 9 countries, Nidec Global Appliance manufactures and commercializes components for home and commercial applications, including cooling solutions, motors for washing machines, dryers and dishwashers, as well as components for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems (HVAC&R). Its focus is to deliver a complete and innovative portfolio with high standards of quality, reliability, competitiveness and energy efficiency. The division is part of Nidec Corporation, a global leader in motors and components, with headquarters in Japan. Further information:


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