Daikin Industries, Ltd. has added 120 new patents to its “Pledge of Non-Assertion of Patents Relating to the Manufacture and Sale of HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) Equipment Using the Single Component Refrigerant HFC-32 (R32).” Thirty of these patents relate to the manufacture and sale of VRF in Europe and are jointly held by Daikin Industries, Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiary Daikin Europe N.V. A total of 419 patents can be used without the need for prior permission or written contract from Daikin. With this expansion, Daikin aims to facilitate further adoption of the HFC-32 refrigerant which has a lower impact to global warming than conventional refrigerants.
HFC-32 is a refrigerant that does not deplete the ozone layer, has a global warming potential (GWP) about one-third of that of the conventional refrigerant R410A, and improves energy efficiency of air conditioning and heat pump equipment. Furthermore, being a single component refrigerant, recovery and reclamation are less complicated than blended refrigerants. HFC-32 thus reduces the amount of new refrigerant produced. The refrigerant itself is readily available and easy to obtain.
In the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2016, an agreement was reached to gradually reduce the effects of HFC refrigerants on GWP, and this amendment became effective in 2019. Countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment are switching to lower GWP refrigerants, and in Europe where environmental awareness is high, the EU is exploring a revision of its F-gas Regulation to further limit the use of HFCs.
VRF is an air conditioning and heat pump system mainly for commercial buildings and residences that connects multiple indoor units to one outdoor unit. Because of its excellent energy conservation and convenience, demand for VRF systems has recently increased in Europe, and that trend is expected to continue. With Daikin Industries and Daikin Europe extending free access to co-owned patents related to VRF systems using HFC-32, future development of VRF systems in Europe will become simpler for air conditioning and heat pump manufacturers, leading to widespread adoption that will help mitigate the effects of global warming.
In 2011, Daikin granted free access to developing countries for 93 patents relating to air conditioners that use HFC-32 and extended free access to these worldwide in 2015. In 2019, it also extended its “Pledge for Non-assertion of Patents” to subsequently filed patents. In 2021, pledged patents were further expanded, and many other companies are now able to develop and sell air conditioners that utilize Daikin technology. Currently, more than 160 million residential and commercial air conditioners using HFC-32 are sold worldwide in 100 countries.