USA: Honeywell has announced the development of a new lower GWP non-flammable alternative to R410A in stationary air conditioning systems.

Having received a preliminary A1 (non-flammable, non toxic) classification by ASHRAE, the new refrigerant would be a serious rival to R32 and, for the first time, offer a much-needed lower GWP alternative to R410A in VRF systems.

Honeywell says the new refrigerant, unveiled as Solstice N41, is the result of years of research and development and addresses “one of the most vexing regulatory and safety challenges facing the HVAC industry”.

R32 has become the lower GWP refrigerant of choice for smaller air conditioning systems. Its A2L flammability, however, makes it unsuitable, currently, for use in larger systems and there are doubts whether it will ever be acceptable for use in VRF systems. Chemours also offers a blend refrigerant, R452B, but this, too, is an A2L “mildly flammable” refrigerant.

Solstice N41 stands to change all that, addressing contractor concerns over handling flammable refrigerants and avoiding any need for new safety standards or building codes.

“This refrigerant is energy efficient, good for the environment, and the logical economic choice,” said Sanjeev Rastogi, Honeywell vice president and general manager of fluorine products. “The costs associated with moving to Solstice N41 pales in comparison to those required for conversion to a flammable refrigerant.”

Honeywell has not yet revealed a GWP for the new refrigerant, or whether it is a single component or a blend, but investigations by the Cooling Post suggest it may have a GWP close to that of R32.

While not actually claiming that N41 would be a “drop-in” replacement for R410A, Honeywell states that early tests have indicated that switching to Solstice N41 would require minimal changes to equipment and may allow OEMs to easily convert from R410A.

“What we created and developed in Solstice N41 is nothing short of a breakthrough,” said Sanjeev Rastogi. “It is an incredibly promising product that is poised to solve a key problem and become the next global standard for refrigerants.”

The refrigerant is still undergoing ASHRAE certification but Honeywell says it expects it to be available commercially next year.

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