Carl Dickinson, of Mitsubishi Electric discusses the significance of R32 refrigerant and why it makes business sense for facilities managers…
If you work within the air-conditioning sector, the chances are that you will have heard about the switch to a new refrigerant: R32. This is the next generation refrigerant and one the industry is embracing as the leading choice by manufacturers, as the ideal solution for new air-conditioning systems.
But why is there any need or rush to move to a new refrigerant? This is largely down to government legislation and fighting the battle against climate change. However, time is of the essence due to the impending changes on the horizon…
This is encapsulated in the 2014 EU F-Gas Regulations. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce F-Gas emissions by 79% between 2015 and 2030 with the overriding intention to the cut the availability of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP).
F-Gases have a global warming effect of up to 23,000 times greater than Carbon Dioxide (CO2). With the refrigerant and air-conditioning sectors accounting for approximately 75% of refrigerant usage, a reduction in this area would go a long way in helping the planet.
From 1 January 2025, big changes will be implemented as the government will enforce that single split air conditioning systems with less than a 3kg charge, should contain a refrigerant with a GWP of less than 750. This is where R32 will play a very significant role in shaping the future of the industry.
HFC’s with a high GWP will gradually be phased out, or in some circumstances banned. The Environment Agency in the UK are policing this, with the first major drop in market availability starting in 2018.
Manufacturers have been quick to respond to the legislation and have introduced equipment with lower GWP refrigerants, such as R32. Businesses with small industrial cooling applications need to prepare for the imminent decline in HFC production and availability. It is crucial to take action, or advantage now of currently obtainable products with a lower GWP.
But with many refrigerants on the market, what makes R32 stand out as the one to have? Firstly, it has a very low GWP of 675, notably just one third of R410A.
It also makes up 50% of the existing R410A refrigerant found in many heat pump systems. Another advantage is that the volumetric capacity of R32 is approximately 20% higher than that of R410A, meaning system refrigerants volumes are lower.
Following the mandatory guidelines, F-Gas is now measured as a CO2-equivalent (CO2-eq) rather than historically a mass of fluid in kg. To simplify this, if a quota of 1-tonnes CO2-eq of HFC is set, then only 4.7kg of R410A would be enough to fill the quota. Whereas, that quota would allow for 14.8kg of R32 – which is almost three times more than R410A. This is another key strength of the next generation refrigerant.
R32 also has a zero-ozone depletion potential. By utilising R32 products, your business makes a green commitment. What’s more, as a single component refrigerant, it’s easy to handle, as well as reuse and recycle since it doesn’t fractionate.
The transition to a new refrigerant is driven by many factors such as energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, safety and the impact on the environment.
There is a diverse range of alternative refrigerants available, some of which also have low GWP’s. However, when you assess them on the criteria above, the other options all combine strong and weak characteristics which vary depending on the type of target product.
R32 is renowned in the air conditioning industry for being the optimum choice thanks to its many benefits.
The installation process of switching from R410A refrigerant to R32 is an easy transition, as the technology is similar and the look, feel and control are the same as the R410A models in current operation.
Furthermore, R32 is an attractive proposition on the market due to its low cost. Many refrigerant suppliers have recently announced price increases on medium to high GWP refrigerants from 1st April 2017. With R32 being affordable, readily available and relatively inexpensive to produce, it makes a fitting choice for your business needs.
Though R32 is still comparatively new to the UK, the refrigerant has sold worldwide, with over 10 million units installed and operating in Japan where it is has proved very popular.
R32 is utilised in the latest state of the art products with the launch of Mr Slim R32 Power Inverter split type models. This is the first fully comprehensive range from Mitsubishi Electric to use R32 refrigerant and includes a host of new product features which deliver complete flexibility for system designers, providing a better performance at the same price as the existing R410A models.
R32 refrigerant contributes towards creating a comfortable environment in the workplace to improve overall satisfaction. The recent products on the market further reinforce that R32 is the perfect choice for split type air conditioning units, which comply with legislation in a cost-efficient manner.