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R32: larger systems could be next

Mitsubishi Electric is one of the leading Japanese manufacturers to have introduced wall-mounted R32 units
Mitsubishi Electric is one of the leading Japanese manufacturers to have introduced wall-mounted R32 units

JAPAN: The mildly flammable refrigerant R32, recently introduced into wall-mounted splits in Japan, could soon be used in larger systems if risk assessments currently in progress prove its safety.

Daikin’s launch of residential air conditioners using R32 refrigerant for the Japanese market was followed this autumn by similar introductions from Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi and Panasonic.

According to the Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA) the total market share of these four companies accounts for about 80% of the Japanese market and cumulative sales of R32  air conditioners have exceeded 800,000 units.

The risk assessments have been jointly conducted by the JRAIA and JSRAE (the Japan Society of Refrigerant and Air Conditioning Engineers). These studies are ongoing and are now being carried out on PACs, VRF systems and chillers.

In its latest newsletter, the JRAIA says: “If the completed assessment concludes there is no critical problem, then manufacturers would step forward to use R32 in those products.”

There is a high pressure gas safety law in Japan which could restrict the the use of R32 to systems under 3 tons but the industry is requesting a relaxation of the regulations.

The HVAC&R Japan exhibition taking place in Tokyo from January 28-31 is set to be the first major showcase of R32 products.

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