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US funds $5.2m flammable refrigerant study

2782305_sUSA: The US government and trade bodies are to fund a $5.2m research programme into the properties and the use of flammable refrigerants.

Seen as part of the ongoing global effort to phase down the use of high GWP refrigerants and identify appropriate climate-friendly alternatives, the new research is being funded by ASHRAE, AHRI and the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Described as “vital research” the partners say that the intention is to establish a more robust fact base about the properties and the use of flammable refrigerants. Of the total funding, DOE is contributing $3m, ASHRAE $1.2m, and AHRI $1m.

Recognising the efforts of industry In researching potential alternatives in anticipation of a global phase down of high-GWP refrigerants, ASHRAE says in a statement: “Through that effort, several promising refrigerants were identified, many of which are low toxicity but are classified as mildly flammable or flammable. This new research programme will provide the technical knowledge needed to facilitate and accelerate the safe use of these refrigerants.”

ASHARE says the results will immediately be transmitted to the committees responsible for ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15-2013, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems, and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants. While there is no indication of when that might be, ASHRAE says the intention is to use the results to update the standards as soon as possible, subject to full compliance with the ANSI consensus process.

“The International Code Council (ICC) has stated that these revised ASHRAE standards will be eligible to be fast-tracked into the international codes, in accordance with ICC procedures,” ASHRAE says.

The International Code Council is a US-based member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.

“ASHRAE has a strong history and commitment to refrigerants, having written our first standard on the topic in 1919,” said David Underwood, ASHRAE president. “We have continued our work in this area since that time, publishing the industry’s leading standards on refrigerants (Standards 15 and 34) as well as conducting hundreds of research projects on the topic. As such, ASHRAE is fully committed to this project. In fact, the funds we are using for our share represent the largest transfer from our Research Reserve Fund in our 122 year history.”

“AHRI is extremely grateful to ASHRAE, DOE, and the International Code Council for their commitment to accelerating the introduction of suitable alternatives to high-GWP refrigerants,” said Stephen Yurek, AHRI president and CEO. “Our member companies, some of which produce refrigerants and others of which manufacture the highest quality air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment in the world, can use the results of this vital research to continue in those missions, but in an even more environmentally friendly way,” he said.

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