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Industry must limit refrigerant focus

19352610_lFRANCE: Europe’s aircon and refrigeration component makers have warned that only with a very focused approach will industry be able to achieve the phase down targets within the statutory time frame.

In a recently published position paper, ASERCOM, the Association of European Refrigeration Component Manufacturers, points out that in addition to developing new products to enable the industry to meet the demands of the HFC phase down, many of its members must also ensure their products comply with new Ecodesign minimum efficiency performance standards. And, faced with hundreds of new low GWP alternatives, it must focus on refrigerants that show the highest potential in preliminary tests.

“New product ranges have to show significant improvements in their energy efficiency,” the statement says. “At the same time these products are required to use the lowest amount of refrigerant with the lowest possible Global Warming Potential (GWP).”

ASERCOM maintains that there are currently around 300 different refrigerants on the market, either established or under development.

“In analytical efforts to structure the HVACR products into relevant groups or segments there are often a minimum of 40-50 different segments defined. In addition these different segments need to be distinguished by a minimum of three climate ranges (cold, average, warm climate).”

ASERCOM says it believes that an appropriate segmentation is critical to success.

With ASERCOM members typically designing their products for a 15-20 years life expectancy, many potential refrigerants have already been evaluated for their performance and their applied cost impact. This includes “natural” fluids, such as CO2, isobutane, propane and ammonia, HFOs (under evaluation), as well as zeotropic HFC/HFO blends.

In addition a lot of the new potential refrigerants are mildly flammable, and have a higher glide. ASERCOM says that the thermodynamic consequence of glide can result in some significant deviation versus performance declaration.

The product range development time is at least 12 months for a simple qualification, and up to 3-4 years for a complete new development. Members are also responsible for their products’ warranty in regards to full refrigerant qualification.

“This development effort can only be done for a few selected refrigerants that show the highest potential in preliminary tests,” says ASERCOM. “Only with a very focused approach will industry be able to achieve the phase down targets within the given time frame. This can be achieved with an appropriate segmentation approach per application. The evaluation of the sectors’ relevant CO2 equivalent impact weight, together with development prioritisation of our industry, will result in optimal results and will avoid doubling of development without additional benefit.”

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