Following the June 2014 US EPA proposal to approve hydrocarbon refrigerants in six additional refrigeration and air conditioning applications, hydrocarbons21.com has talked to leading industry equipment manufacturers to understand what this development could mean for hydrocarbon technologies in the US market.
I believe the room air conditioning application is where the greatest impact will occur”, says Ramiro Avila, Engineering Manager, Engineering and Research Department at True Manufacturing. “This is by far the largest “untouched” potential market segment for natural refrigerants, especially since the Chinese manufacturers have a great deal of experience using R290 in such machines. This will improve both the performance and energy efficiency of this segment as well”.
Echoing Avila’s viewpoint Charles Hon, Engineering Manager at True Manufacturing says:I don’t believe there will be much of an impact on the other five segments”, adds Avila. “Where I could be “surprised” is with the R290 applications in domestic refrigerators. R290 is much more effective for freezer and ice maker applications than R600 is. Remember that US refrigerators are large and usually have all three functions in one unit. I believe R600 falls short on performance in the current US domestic applications since it is not nearly as effective at low temperature applications as is R290.”
I believe the use of R290 could have a major impact in the residential refrigeration sector. The ability to get to lower temperature could be a game changer”.
Our understanding is that when R290 is approved in domestic refrigeration, this will be a way to deal with refrigerant size restrictions, as with a given refrigerant quantity R290 can cater for larger capacities compared to R600a”, says Alexandra Maratou, Deputy Public Affairs Manager, shecco. “With 57g of R290 one could possibly cover the capacity needs of larger American domestic refrigerators without having to use 2 circuits, as is currently the case with R600a and which makes it more costly”.
We hear among manufacturers that they would like increased charge limits in that they could better build a business case to support hydrocarbons in that increased limits would allow a broader product introduction of hydrocarbons”, said Roy.
Charge size limits remain a constraint”, agrees Charles Hon, True Manufacturing.
The maximum charge size of 57 grams is fine with me”, says Richard Maruya, of AS Trust & Holdings and inventor of hydrocarbon blend R441A. “Intertek tests prove that an 18ft3 refrigerator runs perfectly on 38 to 45 grams of R441A - way below the 57 gram limit. Refrigerator manufacturers know this, but they aren’t making any attempt to work with R441A because they don’t want to change. The same is true of the compressor manufacturers. It will take a big company asking for it before they do.”
The biggest issues we will face, in the near future will be local building codes“, says Charles Hon, True Manufacturing.
I have been involved in the SNAP application process with the EPA for over 10 years and continued to encounter obstacles to getting my pure hydrocarbon blends approved. I have the most applications in and completed, but I believe there is a lot of discrimination with the process”.
Are there any remaining obstacles? Of course with significant change there always arise obstacles (opportunities)”, says Craig Roy, Galileo TP. “However, the North American market has less obstacles in that a large part of the world has created a tremendous wealth of resource for the industry over the last 20 years, but significantly 10 years of solid history/industry knowledge. The largest obstacle as many know is educated service technicians in the field. Even this issue of trained HC technician is fast coming to solution through already in place certification training available within the industry, as well as, savvy manufactures understand this is an opportunity to interface with the service technician industry directly in training/certifying technicians directly for their specific product.”
By GALILEO TP , published Jul 24, 2014
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