JAPAN: Mitsubishi Electric is to launch an air conditioning unit in Japan using the low GWP, “mildly flammable” refrigerant R32.

While fellow Japanese manufacturer Daikin introduced R32 units into its home market last year and is preparing to bring them to Europe this autumn, rival Japanese manufacturers have until now remained tight-lipped on their intentions regarding any replacement for R410A.

Now Mitsubishi Electric has announced that it will introduce 11 new Z series room air conditioning models in Japan in November running on R32.

So far Mitsubishi Electric has not revealed any plans for the adoption of R32 across the rest of its product range or if and when R32 units wil be introduced in the rest of the world. However, Japanese manufacturers are known to be actively pursuing a switch to low GWP gases and R32 is a front-runner.

R32 is a single component, zero ODP gas with a GWP of around 650, significantly less than R410A’s 1,980. It is classified as A2L, or mildly flammable, under ASHRAE classifications. It is one of the two components – R125 being the other – that form R410A.

The development of “next generation” low GWP, A2L refrigerants is a key focus of the Japanese air conditioning manufacturers’ association JRAIA. At its recent agm, the JRAIA chairman, Daikin’s Shinya Okada, said “We’ll establish a guideline for safe use of the A2L refrigerants and drive forward the conversion to low GWP or natural refrigerants as far as possible so that the global warming impact caused by HFCs can be greatly reduced.”

JRAIA also discussed progress with the use of A2L refrigerants at the 33rd OEWG (Open-Ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol) meeting in Bangkok in June. This also included the risk assessment results of tests with mini-split air conditioners using R32. Suitable lubricants, leak detectors, refrigerant recovery units for use with A2L refrigerants, mainly designed for R32, were also introduced to demonstrate the availability of suitable components and service tools.