The Kigali summit last October brought more certainty in regards to refrigerant phase-downs in HVAC-R. Yet, the industry acknowledges the need to use mid-term alternatives for some applications until the long-term picture is clear. Based on this, Danfoss continues to explore the best options with 34 refrigerants globally and has just passed an important phase of qualification for 19 product families.
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Sustainable solutions are in the best interests of all stakeholders in our industry. Sustainability safeguards long-term investments and ensures compliance with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Today, when talking about refrigerants and long-term sustainability, Danfoss strives for a sustainable balance between affordability, safety and the environment in our product portfolio and choices for low-GWP refrigerants. By qualifying our products to work well with new refrigerants enable the market to achieve CO<sub>2</sub> reduction targets mandated by phase-downs. Qualifying Danfoss products will also live up to regional and national legislative requirements such as the European F-gas regulation, the US SNAP regulation, HFC phase down in Japan and phase out of CFCs/HCFCs in the Montreal Protocol. A qualification program of this caliber will ensure a viable path for our customers, installers, and OEMs to transition to.
<strong>R448A, R499A, R452A and CO2: Today's Main Alternatives for Commercial Refrigeration
Both 2016 and 2017 are a real cornerstone period for Danfoss with the achievement of many qualifications, especially in the commercial refrigeration segment. Commercial refrigeration primarily uses R404A, but is now subject to bans or quotas globally in new equipment and as well as for replacement starting from January 2020 in Europe with the F-Gas already from the beginning of 2017 in the USA with the SNAP regulations.
R404A has a high global warming potential, and the emissions from many commercial systems can be reduced considerably by substituting R404A with an alternative. The majority of the phase-down will come from refrigeration on the supermarket side as it shifts away from R404A and towards CO<sub>2</sub>. A partial transformation to cascade systems where a chiller-like solution that uses R134a or R513A combined with CO<sub>2</sub>, may be suitable for warmer climates. Danfoss has a proven track record in CO<sub>2</sub>applications with a very extensive product portfolio.
When it comes to condensing units, a changeover to R407A and R407F has already taken place in many areas. These refrigerants reduce the GWP impact by about 50%. However, several additional substitutes are already emerging – R448A and R449A for medium temperature refrigeration, which is based on the HFO 1234yf, as well as R452A for low-temperature refrigeration. The new refrigerants have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) lower than 2500. Most of the Danfoss portfolio is now qualified for those refrigerants, including compressors, standard Optyma and packaged condensing units (Optyma Plus, Optyma Plus INVERTER), valves, heat exchangers and the various system components for higher reliability.
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When it comes to smaller-capacity applications such as vending machines, bottle coolers, self-contained units, and semi plug-ins for retail, many of these appliances use either propane, isobutene or CO<sub>2</sub>. Many of these applications still use refrigerant charges below 150 grams, but that charge size is expected to increase in the future. The Danfoss portfolio for natural hydrocarbon refrigerants is also further expanding to fulfill these fast-growing market demands.
<strong>R1234ze, R32, R452B and R454B as substitutes in Air Conditioning
Depending on the system capacity, the dominant refrigerants have been R134a or R410A. They are both now subject to quotas or bans. Window units and split systems will gradually shift away from using R410A toward R32. A certain part of this market will move to propane, especially for the smallest charge. High-density A2L refrigerants are expected to be used for higher capacity VRF systems, but still, there is a need for safety endorsement from various standards.
For bigger systems, such as scroll chillers and rooftop units, a similar transformation to A2L refrigerants like R32 will occur. HFO blends such as R452B and R454B come into use depending on the application (cooling/heating). The end game also includes some applications using propane. Samples of the extensive Danfoss portfolio for those new refrigerants are now available.
In the high-capacity area, centrifugal and screw chillers using R134a are now transitioning to HFOs and blends. After pioneering with R1234ze, oil-free Turbocor TG compressors, the company offers now more system components – sensors and switches, heat exchangers, filter driers and sight glasses operating for use with this refrigerant and with oil-free systems. Additional low-GWP options are also being explored to provide our customers further flexibility.
<strong>Supporting Conversion with Coolselector and Retrofit Guidelines
"This is a significant step in our effort to bring climate-friendly, sustainable and affordable solutions to the market," says Torben Funder Kristiansen Head of Public and Industry Affairs. "We are now updating all our assets to support our customers, installers, and OEMs in the selection and retrofit when switching to the new refrigerants with specific guidelines and selection tools. Coolselector is, of course, the key to the selection of Danfoss components. When talking about conversion to new refrigerants, it comes with the low-GWP tool and the refrigerant slider. All this is available in the refrigerants.danfoss.com website and bundle in Google app stores," he adds.
<strong>Laboratories and Technical Expertise for Developing Next Generation Solutions
The conversion to new refrigerants requires a lot of resources and time for the component manufacturers as well as the OEMs and installers. Working hand-in-hand with major players and refrigerant manufacturers, Danfoss Application Development Centers across the world offer expert support and state-of-the-art test facilities to collaborate with our customers during their transition to alternative refrigerants.
"Low GWP and high energy efficiency requires advanced know-how and thorough testing. We can provide lab capacity and industry-leading application knowledge in a collaborative test environment for our customers and other partners. In this way, we help each other shape the future of HVAC/R", says Stefan Pietrek, Senior Director, Global Applications.
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