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uIn the coming year, we are likely to see more R32 models on the market.
uMitsubishi has launched a new line‐up of wall mounted air conditioning units with a streamlined design.
EU F‐GAS REGULATIONS A new generation refrigerant
The introduction of R32 refrigerant is about to play a pivotal role in the HVAC industry thanks to its lower global warming properties. This is largely due to new legislation which came into force in March 2014 and has brought in significant changes across the sector. Carl Dickinson of Mitsubishi Electric, explains.
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP). HFCs are organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms. They are commonly used in air conditioning and refrigeration. While they do not harm the ozone layer, they can contribute towards global warming if released into the atmosphere.
The F-Gas Regulation was a landmark ruling that has had a major impact on all stages of the air- conditioning and refrigeration industries; from manufacturing, to installation and the end user. The overriding objective of the legislation is to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases) which are predominantly used in the refrigeration and air conditioning sectors; which contribute towards climate change. F-Gases have a global warming effect of up to 23,000 times greater than Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
Emissions can occur through leakage during the manufacture, operation and disposal of products. Earlier legislation in 2006 was focused on controlling emissions and though this did stabilise the issue, it did not lead to the significant reduction that was expected.
Some legislation is still being phased in and therefore won’t be enforced for several more years. However, it is necessary to react now, to comply with the rulings.
Manufacturers are responding to the changes in the F-Gas Regulations by introducing equipment with lower GWP refrigerants such as HFC32 (or R32).
The European Union (EU) is restricting the availability of HFCs through a quota system policed by the Environment Agency in the UK. Only companies with EU quotas will be able to supply HFCs to the EU market.
Since the new legislation, F-Gas is now measured as a CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) rather than historically a mass of fluid in kg. Consequently, a significantly lower quantity of F-Gases with a high GWP will be available. In addition, the gases
24 BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER MAY 2017
uropean Parliament passed the 2014 EU F-Gas Regulations with the key objective of reducing F-Gas emissions by 79% between 2015 and 2030. The overall intention is to cut the availability of
which have the highest CO2-eq, are scheduled for an earlier and more rapid phase down. The first major drop in market availability is between 2017 and 2018 according to the HFC phase down programme guidelines. This is by far the largest reduction in the phase down process, and one that refrigeration and air conditioning contractors and users should be prepared for in advance.
There are many factors which need to be considered when choosing the next generation refrigerant such as: global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, energy efficiency, affordability and safety.
A refrigerant is a substance or mixture, usually a fluid, which is used in the refrigeration cycle. Usually, it undergoes phase transitions from a liquid to a gas and back again.
Advantages of R32
The air conditioning industry originally used R22 refrigerant (1810 GWP) and then switched to R407C (1770 GWP) as R22 was phased out. R410A soon followed with a GWP of 2088 and is commonly used across the HVAC industry. To help combat global warming, R32 has since been introduced.
R32 has a very low GWP of 675, significantly just one third of R410A. Therefore, manufacturers, installers and owners of air conditioning and refrigerant equipment, can make a green commitment by committing to R32 products. In-keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, R32 also has a zero-ozone depletion potential which meets the global Montreal Protocol agreements and the EU Ozone depleting regulations.
Another advantage of R32, is that it is a familiar refrigerant as it already makes up 50% of the existing R410A refrigerant found in many heat pump systems. Plus, the volumetric capacity of R32 is approximately 20% higher than that of R410A, which means system refrigerant volumes are lower.
This makes R32 more efficient which ensures lower carbon emissions and energy costs. Safety is crucial to everyone and R32 is rated as an A2L refrigerant.
What’s more, R32 is a single component refrigerant, which is easy to handle, reuse and recycle since it doesn’t fractionate, whereas
R410A is a blended refrigerant.
Additionally, it is also affordable and readily available.
Making the right choice
The rival choices to R32 in the HVAC industry are HFO blends, CO2 and hydrocarbons. R32 refrigerant frequently fits the bill for air conditioners and heat pumps; in comparison to R410A, CO2, and HFO Blends which are potential choices for commercial refrigeration. HFO’s have very low GWP of 4-6 but their pressure and energy efficiency are not suitable for replacing R410A in air conditioners and heat pumps. CO2 has a GWP of 1, but system costs can be an issue.
Hydrocarbons such as R290 (Propane) and R600 (Butane), have low GWPs of under 10 which are ideal for certain applications such as small mobile air conditioners, freezer systems and sealed refrigerators. However, they are highly flammable with a safety rating of A3 which means system costs are higher.
R32 is widely used in Japan, Australia and India, so there is a broad scope of experience and knowledge gained from the use of the refrigerant. Japan was first to jump on board and sales of R32 cooling units have been extremely popular.
Easy to switch
Hence, R32 being utilised in the latest state-of- the-art products from Mitsubishi Electric. The MSeries MSZ-LN range is the inaugural product in the UK line-up to utilise R32 refrigeration. As R32 is already part of R410A, the changes to the installation process are relatively small, making for an easy switch to R32, saving valuable time. Mitsubishi Electric’s MSZ-LN range features a new line-up of wall-mounted air-conditioning units with a sophisticated, streamlined design; combining both style and energy efficiency, which is targeted at small businesses and high- end customers.
In the coming year, we are likely to see an increase in the number and range of R32 models on the market, helping prove that R32 provides the ideal choice for split type air conditioning units which meet the stringent legislation in place while also reducing the carbon footprint.
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