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Industry needs to up the pace on A2L refrigerants

Presenters line-up prior to the Climalife UK customer event

UK: While there is a move to R32 and HFO blends, the industry needs to quicken the pace to adopt A2L refrigerants and avoid future refrigerant shortages and price increases.

This was one of the main messages from last week’s special customer event organised by refrigerant supplier Climalife.

Climalife UK MD Allan Harper said more challenges lay ahead for the industry in 2020 and 2021 with energy efficiency, climate change and F-gas having a part to play in the choice of refrigerants in the future. 

“Its been quite interesting to see quite a lot of conversions to HFO blends but we’ve still got a lot more to do and we all still need to keep on moving the pace to adopt the new A2L refrigerants,” he told the assembled guests.

He spoke of the “lack of understanding” on A2L refrigerants like R32, something Climalife experienced first hand when seeking air conditioning for new offices they are looking to refit. All quotes came back for systems running on R410A. 

On Climalife’s insistence the new three floors are now all on R32 backed up by a Bacharach leak detection system. As a result, when open, the new offices will act as a showroom for customers to see how easy the refrigerant is to adopt. 

“We did all this and it’s cost us 30% less as well compared to R410A,” he said. It’s an interesting dynamic. We would have liked to have gone a bit lower on the GWP but there really just isn’t the equipment for air conditioning available on the market at the moment – not given the time frame we’ve got because we want to move in January.”

It set the scene for the event which saw the two biggest rival refrigerant manufacturers Chemours and Honeywell presenting their own portfolios of lower GWP alternatives. In addition Bacharach spoke about the importance of leak detection equipment for safety, legislative conformance, environmental and economic reasons. This was backed up by Exxon-Mobil talking on the importance of using the correct lubricant and how they can impact the refrigeration system’s overall efficiency.

“The objective of the event was to refocus on where we are now and to support our customers in the coming F-gas challenges, by bringing together some of our suppliers who are considered to be leaders in their markets,” said Allan Harper. “Lower GWP refrigerants such as R448A, R449A and R513A have quickly established themselves in the market but we now need to step up the adoption of A2L refrigerants. Also important is the use of leak detection equipment, and suitable lubricants for equipment to ensure the efficiency of installed systems”.

Climalife UK head of sales Dave Richards rounded of the presentations talking about other low GWP refrigerants, like the “naturals”, and other energy saving heat transfer fluids, cleaning products and components stocked by Climalife.

Peter Dinnage, technical director gave an update on F-gas and repeated warnings of the need to adopt the lower GWP refrigerants. “The more lower GWP product we can convert to the better,” he said.

He noted that 18 months ago very few people were putting in R32 systems. Now that has all changed with all manufacturers offering small R32 splits and many now bringing out larger equipment suitable for the lower GWP refrigerant. 

“In another three or four years time we’ll all be saying what was all the fuss about handling A2L refrigerants?” he predicted. 

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