ASHRAE’s position paper on hydrocarbons

By Sabine Lobnig, Mar 04, 2009, 17:44 2 minute reading

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has, for the first time, issued a position paper on natural refrigerants. The paper describes hydrocarbons as having excellent environmental, thermodynamic, and thermo-physical properties and expresses the association’s support for research, assessment, and strategic growth in the use of natural refrigerants.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published a position paper on the various uses, properties and potential of environmentally superior natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons in refrigeration and heating systems. With this paper, ASHRAE recognises the potential that natural refrigerants offer in improving the environmental performance of refrigeration systems and expresses its support for research, assessment, and strategic growth in their use. The ASHRAE paper, issued a couple of weeks after the first ASHRAE CO2-only seminar “CO2 Systems, Components and Applications”, further presents the pros and cons of different natural refrigerants uses in heating and cooling systems.

Hydrocarbons at use

Recalling the vital and potential role played by refrigerants, ASHRAE’s paper, also insists on the environmental consequences and potential damages caused by an ever growing demand in refrigerants. In searching alternatives with low Global Warming Potential (GWP) and reduced likelihood of other environmental impacts, natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons are gaining increased interest.

Hydrocarbons are described as having excellent environmental, thermodynamic, and thermo-physical properties, with applications in:

-systems with small charges including domestic refrigerator/freezers and portable air conditioners,
-stand-alone commercial refrigeration systems including beverage and ice-cream machines,
-as the primary refrigerant in centralised indirect systems for supermarket refrigeration,
-chillers in the range 1kW – 150 kW

Regulation and training

While describing natural refrigerants as “environmentally superior”, the paper outlines each refrigerant’s varying efficiency and safety in heating and cooling appliances. Bearing in mind that hydrocarbons can be flammable the paper calls for their handling by trained personnel. The paper further states that extensive research has led to more and more secure use of hydrocarbons.

ASHRAE and AIRAH: on climate change

On 27 February, ASHRAE and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditions and Heating (AIRAH) issued a joint resolution on climate change emphasizing the necessary use of renewable energy, education of the building industry and responsible refrigerant use to insure sustainable future of heating and refrigeration. Yet again, ASHRAE stresses the importance for the heating and refrigeration industry to evolve towards greater sustainability and greater environmental concern integration.

“The use of HVAC&R technologies is an essential element of contemporary life,” Bill Harrison, ASHRAE president, said. “Yet, HVAC&R systems contribute to greenhouse gas releases through energy-related effects and through the effects of refrigerant losses. ASHRAE and AIRAH are emphasising a variety of measures to decrease emissions associated with energy use and its effect on global climate.”


By Sabine Lobnig

Mar 04, 2009, 17:44

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