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York chillers in R513A side-by-side trial

The York chillers are being tested at Watson Library, the oldest and largest of the University of Kansas libraries

USA: A chiller retrofitted with the lower GWP refrigerant R513A is being trialled in a side-by-side comparison with a similar chiller running on R134a at the University of Kansas.

The two 900-ton York chillers units cool and dehumidify the university’s nearly century-old Watson Library building. Until recently both chillers used R134a refrigerants to do the job. 

Refrigerant manufacturer Chemours, chiller manufacturer Johnson Controls and University of Kansas facilities retrofitted one of the two York chillers to R513A. 

Manufactured and marketed by Chemours as Opteon XP10, R513A is a blend of R134a (44%) and R1234yf (56%) and has a GWP of 631. It is an A1 non-flammable, non toxic gas and is compatible with existing York centrifugal and screw chillers.

Watson Library offers university researchers the ability to directly compare the performance of the new HFO refrigerant with the existing HFC system.

“We looked for an opportunity on campus where we could retrofit an existing chiller and study the performance, to see if it had the same cooling capacity and energy efficiency,” said Mark Shiflett, the university’s foundation distinguished professor of chemical & petroleum engineering. “Now we’re going to monitor them side-by-side and compare the performance.

“This is a great example of how industry is partnering with our new Institute for Sustainable Engineering at KU, which is making a positive impact on our environment,” Shiflett said.

That’s also an advantage for the students involved in the project. Mechanical engineering seniors monitored the baseline performance of the older HFC unit as part of their capstone senior design course. A postdoctoral researcher and graduate student in chemical engineering will monitor the new HFO unit’s performance over the summer.

“Industry brings relevant problems that need solutions,” Shiflett said. “The students get to work on applied projects that are important to industry. That way when they graduate, they’ve got this great experience and become familiar with how industry works. It makes them more competitive when they go out in the workforce to get their first job.”

The Institute for Sustainable Engineering at KU aims to advance global sustainability through transformational engineering, science and education by putting a focus on creative solutions that can be applied to real-world issues that promote the societal, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable and green engineering.

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