R290 vs. R22 in mobile air conditioners: who comes out on top?

By Charlotte McLaughlin, Nov 30, 2016, 16:39 1 minute reading

In mobile air conditioners, the performance and environmental benefits of using R290 surpass R22, research has found.

Automobile air conditioning (AAC) systems with propane perform better than those based on HCFC R22, according to Indian researchers. Switching to propane could tackle India’s dependence on R22 for air-conditioning. India still uses HCFCs in 50-60% of air conditioners as of 2016, data from the ozone cell in the Indian environment ministry shows.

This is in contrast to Europe, where the EU’s F-Gas Regulation has prevented the service and maintenance of existing R22-based equipment since 1 January 2015.

The research, authored by Shrivastava and Dahake of the AISSMS College of Engineering in Pune, Maharashtra, India, focuses on Performance Analysis of Automobile Air Conditioning Systems using Propane (R290), “as a potential [environmental] substitute for R22”.

Propane has no ozone-depleting potential and a global-warming potential (GWP) of just three. By contrast R22 depletes the ozone layer and has a GWP of 1,700.

Higher refrigerating effect

“Theoretical analysis showed that the thermo-physical properties and environmental properties of HC-290 are much better than HCFC-22 hence making it feasible for replacement,” Shrivastava and Dahake write.

R290 has a “higher refrigerating effect”.  
- Shrivastava and Dahake, AISSMS College of Engineering in Pune, Maharashtra, India

Their experiments with a car air conditioner comprising original components from an R22-based system revealed that R290 has a “higher refrigerating effect”.

The COP (coefficient of performance) is 8% lower. But the researchers point out this is marginal and “compressor work could be further lowered by specially designing [the] compressor for propane”. 

If propane starts being used in mobile air-conditioning, it could go a long way to allowing India to meet its target of phasing out of R22 by 2030.

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Nov 30, 2016, 16:39

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